Kristin Whitley
Maura Thompson
Court Case 10

Rose Zoll
Eastern Allamakee Community School District and its Board of Directors, Superintendent, and Elementary School Principal, individually and as a representative of the school district
Argued June 13, 1978
Decided December 7, 1978
United States Court of Appeals
First grade public school teacher, Rose Zoll, brought suit against the Eastern Allamakee Community School District. She claimed that she was denied renewal of her contract in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights. Zoll wrote two letters to the editor of a local newspaper criticizing the new Principal, Mr. Pronga, School Superintendent Duane Fuhrman, and four school board members. The defendant’s reasoning for non-renewal of Mrs. Zoll’s contract was based on a contingency plan for staff reduction because of a decline in enrollment of first grade students. A jury verdict was rendered and judgment was in favor of Mrs. Zoll. District court ordered the school board reinstate Mrs. Zoll and the superintendent Fuhrman and Principal Pronga compensate her for back pay up to the date of trial and attorney's fees and expenses. Fuhrman and Pronga appealed the motion in hopes of having the verdict overturned; Mrs. Zoll cross-appealed for an extension in the back pay period and an increase in the attorney's fee award.
Decision and Rationale:
The Appeals Court reinstated the decision of the jury, ruling that the School District pay Mrs. Zoll back fees and attorney’s fees. During the appeal the court ruled that everyone under the First Amendment has a right to freedom of speech and Mrs. Zoll’s contract should not have been terminated because of that right. Mrs. Zoll was awarded an extension in the back pay award and an increase in the award for the attorney’s fees.

Although teachers also have a right to freedom of speech, they should still be aware of the consequences they could face for putting their opinions out for the public to see. Mrs. Zoll didn’t do anything wrong, which was reflected in the court’s ruling, but Mrs. Zoll went through a lot of trouble for what she wrote to the papers. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and a right to freedom of speech, but teachers, being a upstanding citizen should really choose their words wisely.
Quiz Question:
Why is it important for an administrator to remain objective when observing/ reviewing teacher performance?