Disabled Student Advocate
Dorothy Houlihan, a school psychologist at the Sussex Technical School District, would, in the course of her job, confront individulals in the District who were not complying with IDEA. The District changed her job description so that she could only make such complaints to the high school principal and the vice principal and supervisor of special education. When her complaints were ignored, she went to a school board member to discuss her concerns. After this meeting, she was given several reprimands and negative evaluations. Her prior evaluations had been positive. Finally, the District informed her that it would not be renewing her contract. Ms. Houlihan contends that she was terminated in retaliation for her efforts to bring the District in compliance with the IDEA and sued under the Rehabilitation Act, the First Amendment and Delaware Law. The defendants moved to dismiss.
The District Court of the District of Delaware held that Ms. Houlihan had alleged a claim under the Rehabilitation Act and under Delaware law. However, because her complaints were not made as a private citizen, but rather, as an employee of the District, it found that her First Amendment claim must be dismissed.
The decision in Houlihan v. Sussex Technical School District can be found on Westalaw at 2006 WL 3349534. The case was decided on November 16, 2006 I tried to get a link from the Court's website, but the link would not work. Sorry. Maybe it will be fixed soon.