Federal court rules in ex-teacher’s case

BRADENTON – A federal court today dismissed former teacher Mary Cropsey’s claim that the Manatee school district discriminated against her when she was fired in 2007 after she refused to participate in an investigation of possible wrongdoing.

Cropsey had alleged that the school board, former Superintendent Roger Dearing and Mills Elementary School Principal Mike Rio did not renew her contract and fired her in order to “punish her and retaliate against her for exercising her constituionally protected rights of free speech, to engage in legitimate criticisms of matters of public concern concerning school conditions and safety, and to exercise her right against self-incrimination and to have representaion of her choosing.”

The ruling of summary judgement filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa states in part: “Viewing the entirety of the record in the light most favorable to Cropsey, there are no genuine issues of material fact as to any of her claims,” according to a news release from the school district.

The Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal last week overturned Cropsey’s firing. The district has not said whether it will appeal that ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.

The school board fired Cropsey in August 2007 after she refused to cooperate with an investigation of whether she had violated procedures for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests. The board ruled the allegations were unfounded but fired Cropsey for insubordination.