JCPS employee fired in data breach files appeal

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Public Schools employee fired for her role in a data breach is officially appealing her termination.

The district decided to fire Ferry in July after the school board recommended it.

They alleged Ferry transferred sensitive student files to a personal account without permission, putting the data at risk of breach. 

Ferry filed an appeal Monday with the Cole County Circuit Court.

In the appeal, Ferry's lawyers argued the district had no right to fire her. The filing listed the following argument for why Ferry's termination was unjust.

"The decision by Respondent Board to terminate Plaintiff's employment must be reversed because the decision:

a. Was made in violation of Missouri statutes, the Missouri Constitution and the U.S. Constitution by denying her equal protection under the law;

b. Was made in excess of the authority and jurisdiction of the board;

c. Is not supported by component and substantial evidence on the whole record;

d. Is unauthorized by law;

e. Was made upon unlawful procedure and without a fair hearing;

f. Was arbitrary capricious and unreasonable; and

g. Involves abuse of discretion."

The appeal asked the court to reverse the decision and to have the district reimburse her legal expenses.

"Petitioner respectfully requests this court to review the record and reverse the decision of the Board for the reasons described above, and for an award of her attorney fees pursuant to Chapter 536, and for such other relief the Court deems just and proper."

The decision to terminate Ferry came after a weeks long hearing.

Ferry spoke with KOMU 8 News following the decision.

"I did not breach student data," Ferry said. "I didn't put any student data in anybody's hands, nor would I ever."

She said she believes she was fired out of retaliation for testifying in the trial of another employee.

"Since I testified in her trial is when the retaliatory action really started towards me," Ferry said. "I feel like they just wanted me to leave. And so this was just, I guess a way they thought they might be able to fire me and make me leave."

KOMU reached out to JCPS for reaction to the appeal's filing. A spokesperson said the district had no comment.

"We've deferred to the fact and conclusions of law that were included in the board's decision related to Ms. Ferry," spokesperson Ryan Burns said. "Otherwise, we don't have anything further to add."