Fulton H. S. Employee Sues Board, Superintendent After Firing

4 years 1 month 3 weeks ago November 21, 2012 Nov 21, 2012 Wednesday, November 21 2012 Wednesday, November 21, 2012 1:14:00 PM CST in Coverage From Callaway
By: Kerry Leary
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FULTON - A Fulton High School employee filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Fulton Public Schools Superintendent Jacque Cowherd, Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Hull and five school board members in U.S. District Court, claiming she was fired for calling police about a student possibly having a gun at the school.

According to the court documents obtained by KOMU 8 News, Ruth Burt, a Fulton High School employee for 22 years, claims a school-aged boy was seen with a gun by Fulton High School employee Lori Lamons on Sept. 6. Burt's friend Anita Stuckey called her about the incident and then called the regular number for the Fulton Police Department and made a report to the police. The police did not find the described boy.

The next morning, the suit claims Burt overheard kitchen employees talking about the boy and acknowledged his presence as school that day. Burt went with the kitchen employee to speak with Fulton High School Principal Jason Whitt about the second appearance of the boy. The suit claims Whitt said he was busy with a parent meeting and they were directed to Assistant Principal Chris Mincher. The group began to search for the boy on campus. The suit claims Burt returned to her office and learned Mincher sent the boy back to class because he had to deal with a fight.

According to the documents, Burt was then "fearful for the children in the school building because of the boy who was seen with a hand gun the day before" and decided to speak to Superintendent Jacque Cowherd or Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Hull, who were not yet at the building.

Burt waited for "some time" and eventually decided to call the school's resource officer. Burt was then directed to speak with Whitt and wrote a statement of the occurrences up to that point.

The boy admitted he had a handgun style air pistol near the school the day before.

Burt was sent home after the superintendent stated "he wasn't happy with the way things had happened that morning [and] he didn't know what he was going to do with [Burt]."

On Sept. 14, Burt received a letter from the Fulton Board of Education confirming her termination from employment at Fulton High School.

Burt claims Fulton Public Schools caused damage to her regarding "lost wages, lost benefits, emotional distress," and "the loss of enjoyment of life."

KOMU 8 News spoke with the Fulton Public Schools superintendent Wednesday, but he refused to comment on the pending litigation, directing KOMU 8 News to the lawyer representing Fulton Public Schools. The lawyer did not return KOMU 8's message.

KOMU 8 News left messages for the plaintiff's lawyer as well who is in court all day Wednesday.

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