SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A school security guard will have a chance to contest his firing for complaining about safety and disciplinary issues, the 9th Circuit ruled.
The district court granted summary judgment to the Lake Pend Oreille School District No. 84. However, Judge Hawkins ruled that the question of whether Robert Posey’s speech carried constitutional protection is not simply a question of law; it also presents questions of fact.
Posey complained to Sandpoint High School Principal Jim Soper that Posey’s hands were tied in dealing with drug and weapons violations at the school.
When he wasn’t satisfied with Soper’s response, Posey wrote to the head of the school district. Posey claimed that sexual harassment, and possibly rape, had been committed by school staff, and that a Columbine-style shooting “can happen here and almost did.”
The school district argued that Posey’s speech was not protected because it was part of his job duties. Posey countered that he was not required to report on wrongdoing by co-workers or deal with student discipline beyond the supervision of the parking lot.
This confusion, Hawkins ruled, indicates the need for a trial, as opposed to summary judgment.
“The court must reserve judgment on … the protected status inquiry until after the fact-finding process,” Hawkins wrote.