Supreme Court Enters Order
in Thruston v. Jefferson City School District
The Supreme Court entered an order in the collective bargaining case that was argued in November; however, the order did not address the issue of collective bargaining. The Court remanded the case back to the Court of Appeals to deal with the procedural issue of whether or not the case was moot. In short, the Court avoided the substantive issue MNEA had hoped would be addressed.
Thruston et al. v. Jefferson City School District was argued before the Supreme Court on November 6, 2002. The case was initiated in 2000 when Cheryl Thruston, a teacher in the Jefferson City School District, Fern Ward, a principal in the Jefferson City School District, and Luana Gifford, their representative with AFT, filed suit against Jefferson City School District.
Cheryl Thruston's portion of the suit alleged that the school district violated Article I, Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution (granting employees the right to engage in collective bargaining) and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by forbidding her to discuss her working conditions outside the school and by giving her job targets and low evaluations only after learning of her activity with the AFT.
Fern Ward's claims arose from the school district's denial of her attempt to file a grievance. Ward also alleged violations of the First Amendment by virtue of the school's refusal to allow her to file a grievance and to choose a representative to resolve issues regarding her employment.
The Cole County Circuit Court dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim. The Court relied on the Missouri Supreme Court's 1947 decision in City of Springfield v. Clouse, which held that Article I, Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution does not apply to public employees. Plaintiffs appealed, and the Western District Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot, because Thruston and Ward were no longer employed by the District.
Plaintiffs then sought transfer to the Supreme Court, which was granted on August 27, 2002. One of the issues on appeal is whether the Clouse decision should be overruled. The briefs of all parties can be viewed online . The Supreme Court oral argument can be heard online as well.