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Fired employee sues Fulton schools

Lawsuit alleges teacher dismissed after she called police

A longtime Fulton Public Schools employee sued the district in federal court Tuesday, saying she was fired in September for calling police about a student possibly having a gun at Fulton High School.

Ruth Burt says in the 12-page suit that she’s a Callaway County resident “and at all times pertinent to this lawsuit was employed by Fulton Public Schools for 22 years as Assistant to the Director of Health Service and Health clerk in the nurses office.”

Her lawyer, David Moen of Jefferson City, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court’s Jefferson City office, naming Superintendent Jacque Cowherd, Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Hull and five school board members as defendants.

Burt said she was notified Sept. 14 in a letter “from the Fulton Board of Education confirming her termination from employment effective September 12, 2012.”

And, her lawsuit said: “It is a really bad idea to terminate an employee for calling the police when that employee reasonably believes that a student could have a gun at school.”

Burt said the trouble began when she received a call at work on Thursday, Sept. 6, from a woman who wanted to tell Fulton police she “had just seen a school-aged boy walking near school property carrying a handgun.”

Police told the woman they “had searched but not found the boy,” the lawsuit said.

The next day, Burt said she was getting ice for the nurse’s office from the high school kitchen when she “overheard kitchen employee Lori Lamons say that she had seen a boy (Thursday) walking near the school with a handgun at 1:38 p.m.,” then pointed to a boy standing down the hallway.

The lawsuit said Burt and Lamons eventually reported the situation to Assistant Principal Chris Mincher, and that Lamons later told Burt that “the boy had been sent to class because Mr. Mincher did not have time to deal with him because he needed to deal with a fight first.”

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