Files lawsuit against NEA, Mexico School District superintendent, board members
Dr. Mickie Shank and her husband Michael Shank have filed a lawsuit seeking judgment for damages "exceeding $1 million, compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs of the lawsuit and other such and further relief as the court deems just and proper in the premises."
The lawsuit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, Independence, names the following defendants: labor union National Education Association represented by Anne Morrison-Smith; Mexico School District Supt. Kevin Freeman; Mexico School Board members M. Elwood Rice, Beverly MacFarlane, Dustin Pascoe and Patrick Maguire.
Freeman, MacFarlane, Maguire and Rice declined offers to comment this morning. Efforts to reach Pascoe was unsuccessful.
The petition for damages states Plaintiff Dr. Shank is contactually employed with the Defendant Mexico School District No. 59 as the director of the Hart Career Center in Mexico. The lawsuit stems from the Feb. 19, 2013 school board members' votes for non-renewal of her contract for the 2013-2014 school year. Dr. Shank accuses Freeman of libel, for statements she claims were based on false statements and deliberately intended to defame her and expose her to public hatred, contempt and ridicule. She also claims libel and tortious interference with business expectancy against NEA stating NEA deliberately, intentionally, maliciously defamed her before the public and the board members prior to the Feb. 19 meeting, to intentionally interfere with her future employment.
Defendant Kevin Freeman is sued in his official capacity as the superintendent and individually. Each board member named as a defendant is being sued in his/her official capacity as a board member and individually.
The petition for damages further states Dr. Shank began employment with the Mexico School District in school year 2011-2012, by written contract as director of HCC. On March 23, 2012, Mexico School District extended Dr. Shank's contract for the 2012-2013 school year.
The petition identifies two Mexico School District policies – staff grievances and discrimination policy – and the board's policy, custom and practice related to complaints against administrators from staff and the public. The petition states neither the formal written board policies identified to resolve employee grievances, nor the policy, custom and practice of the board of education to terminate rumors and lies were enforced or allowed regarding Dr. Shank.
In addition, the suit includes breach of contract against all defendants except NEA. The suit states the defendants voted for non-renewal based upon lies created by NEA and refused to allow Dr. Shank to dispel those accusations with evidence.
The lawsuit states that as a direct and proximate result of the defendants' actions, Dr. Shank has suffered annual economic damages of future employment totaling $95,390 and in addition will lose $1,102,320 less in retirement benefits paid out over a 30-year period.
In addition to Dr. Shank seeking judgment against the defendants "for actual damages exceeding $1,197,320, costs of the action and such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper," Michael Shank is asking for an amount exceeding $75,000 for compensatory damages, costs of the action and further relief as the court deems just and proper. He claims as a direct and proximate result of the acts and conduct of defendants toward Dr. Shank, he was caused to sustain the loss of consortium, society, love, affection and companionship he previously enjoyed with his spouse.
The lawsuit document was submitted to the court by the Shanks' attorney Larry Bagsby, Bagsby & Lee, LLC, of St. Charles.