Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sheeler v. Nevada Community School District

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 1, 2018

SUSAN SHEELER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NEVADA COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT and DR. STEVE GRAY, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, William C. Ostlund, Judge.

         Susan Sheeler appeals the district court's grant of a directed verdict in favor of defendants on her constitutional claims.

          Andrew J. Zbaracki of Newbrough Law Firm, LLP, Ames, for appellant.

          Kirke C. Quinn of Law Office of Kirke C. Quinn, Boone, for appellees.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Susan Sheeler appeals the district court's grant of a directed verdict in favor of Nevada Community School District (Nevada) and Dr. Steve Gray in Sheeler's deprivation of rights claim. We find Sheeler was not deprived of her right to due process in her termination hearing and did not have her right against self-incrimination infringed upon. We affirm the district court decision granting a directed verdict.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Susan Sheeler was a contract employee of Nevada from 2000 to 2014. Sheeler, a special education associate at the high school, worked for Nevada under yearly contracts. In April 2014, Nevada offered Sheeler a ten-month contract for the 2014-2015 school year, which she signed. The contract provided for its termination via two weeks' notice by either party and reserved Nevada's right of immediate termination for cause. The school board policy on classified employee dismissal also allowed for dismissal upon two weeks' notice or immediately for cause.

         In July 2014, the State filed criminal charges against Sheeler for possessing a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Sheeler's arrest, along with the arrest of her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend, appeared in the local newspaper on July 23. Upon reading the article, Dr. Steve Gray, Nevada Superintendent of Schools, requested high school principal Justin Gross speak with Sheeler about the charges. Gross spoke with Sheeler on July 25, but she asked to wait to discuss the matter until she had spoken with an attorney. Then, upon advice of counsel, on July 28 or 29, Sheeler refused to comment to Gross other than to confirm her arrest. Sheeler did not affirmatively invoke her Fifth Amendment rights during the conversation. Gross asked Sheeler to come in to return her key fob to the classroom and remove any personal items in the room, indicating he expected Gray to recommend termination.

         Based on the newspaper article and the discussion between Sheeler and Gross, on July 29, Gray sent Sheeler a letter regarding her employment. Gray suspended Sheeler without pay[1] and stated he would recommend her termination at the school board meeting on August 11 pursuant to school policy permitting termination for a violation of Iowa law. The letter stated Sheeler could have a hearing to contest the recommendation, and asked her to submit a written request for the hearing if she wanted it by 3:00 p.m. on August 6. Gray noted the hearing to contest the recommendation would be closed unless Sheeler requested it be open to the public.

         Sheeler did not request a hearing to contest the recommendation as directed in the letter or otherwise respond to the letter. Sheeler did not attend the August 11 school board meeting. The school board terminated Sheeler as Gray recommended. Sheeler did not appeal the board's action.

         On September 12, the Story County Attorney dismissed the criminal charges against Sheeler.

         Sheeler filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. On May 5 and May 16, 2016, respectively, the commissions issued right-to-sue letters. On May 26, Sheeler filed a petition in Story County against Nevada, Gray, Gross, and Brian Schaeffer (a Nevada administrator). The petition alleged a deprivation of constitutional rights- ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.