Alpine School District attorneys plan to file a response to a $2.5 million lawsuit brought against the district by a former employee, who says she was fired because she revealed truancy problems to the news media.
Delores A. Bradshaw, Pleasant Grove, alleges in the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for Utah, that she was deprived of her constitutional rights when Alpine officials refused to renew her contract in June 1986.Bradshaw declined comment on the lawsuit, but her attorney, Ann Wise, contends that the former attendance coordinator for Alpine was fired because she told reporters about widespread truancy problems in the district and that some students who had not been taken off Alpine's attendance rolls were attending Master Academy, an alternative school that since has been closed.
"(Bradshaw) suspected that both the district and Master Academy were receiving money for the students," Wise said. "She had concerns regarding the possible waste of public funds. This is basically a free-speech case. That's what this is all about."
The school district's attorney, Brinton R. Burbidge, said Bradshaw's charges have no base.
"They are without foundation in law or fact. She was presented every opportunity to discuss her case (while she was working in the district). Her constitutional rights have not been violated," Burbidge said.
Bradshaw was fired "for cause," said Burbidge, who declined to specify the district's reasons for the dismissal. That information will be included in Alpine's response, he said.
Bradshaw was notified in April 1986 that her contract would not be renewed in June. She had worked in Alpine in various positions since 1969.
The lawsuit requests that Bradshaw be reinstated to her former position in the district and that she be awarded punitive damages, compensation for lost earnings and benefits and damages for pain and suffering. The suit names as defendants the district, the Alpine Board of Education, Superintendent Clark Cox and former Alpine administrators Kolene Granger and William Stubbs.
Bradshaw's problems with the district actually began at the conclusion of a yearlong sabbatical she took in 1982-83, Wise said. Bradshaw had spent the year earning a doctorate, and the position she was given when she returned was not comparable to the one she took leave from, she claimed. Because Bradshaw believes this was a violation of her leave-of-absence agreement, she filed a grievance against the district, which Wise said resulted in no action from school board members, who reviewed the complaint.
Burbidge said the location of Bradshaw's office was changed as a result of the grievance, but the district believed she had been given a comparable position. Her salary was the same.
Wise said Bradshaw has been unable to find employment since her termination, though she has applied for several positions, including the recently filled opening for a new Alpine superintendent.
"I have advised her that she should seek job opportunities wherever she could," Wise said. "She's still trying to get work."