LOUISVILLE (CN) - A school bus driver claims she was fired unfairly after calling a bully a "little bitch" in a Facebook exchange.
Debora Robinson sued the Grayson County Board of Education, its five members and the school Superintendent Barry Anderson, in Federal Court.
Robinson has driven a school bus for the district since July 1999. She says the dispute that led to her firing began when she complained to a girl who had been bullying her son.
"On or about November 10, 2011, the plaintiff had a private exchange on Facebook with a minor female student of the Grayson County Schools," Robinson says in the complaint. "Robinson used her own personal computer at her residence during the exchange and said exchange took place at a time when school was not in session and while Robinson was not working for the Board as a school bus driver."
She says the alleged bully did not ride her bus, and that she did not typically have any contact with her during her work as a bus driver.
"The minor female student and her boyfriend, Stephen, had been bullying Robinson's son at school," Robinson says. "The plaintiff sent a private message to the female student requesting that the student and her boyfriend stop bullying Robinson's son.
"The female student responded with profanity and demeaning remarks toward the plaintiff. Robinson then sent back a private message to the female student, stating 'YOU LITTLE BITCH, what are you going to do when Stephen dumps your ass after you have the baby like he did his other girlfriend.'"
That did it.
Two days later, Robinson says, "Stephen's mother brought a printout of the plaintiff's above-referenced private Facebook message to Robinson's immediate supervisor, the Grayson County School's Director of Transportation, Arnold Hack."
Hack, who is not a defendant, gave Superintendent Anderson a copy of the Facebook message, and on Nov. 15 Anderson suspended Robinson without pay, after a meeting with her, she says in the complaint.
The next day he sent her a letter telling her he was firing her for violating a board policy.
Robinson claims she did not violate board policy: "As of November 2011 the Board did not have any written social media policy or any specific guidelines dealing with the use of social media by any employees of the Board, including but not limited to use of Facebook, for communications with any other persons (including but not limited to students of the Grayson County Schools), either during working hours or during times when an employee was not working as an employee of the board."
She adds: "As of November 2011 the Board also did not have any specific written policy dealing with, or purporting to restrict or limit, private exchanges of information, or conversations, in any manner (in person or by any other means), including but not limited to communications on Facebook, between any employees of the Board and any other persons (including but not limited to students of the Grayson County Schools), either during working hours or during times when an employee was not working as an employee of the Board."
Robinson got a hearing on her firing, on Jan. 4 this year, before an independent hearing officer, after the superintendent chose not to preside. The hearing officer upheld her firing.
Robinson claims she was fired irregularly, as only the superintendent can fire her.
She seeks punitive damages for violations of the federal and state constitutions.
She is represented by Harry O'Donnell IV of Louisville.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.