The lawsuit against former Metro Nashville Public Schools superintendent Dr. Shawn Joseph and the Metro government is still pending, one of the plaintiffs, a school board member, says.
Fran Bush is one of three MNPS school board members who are suing Joseph and the Metro government. The other plaintiffs are board members Jill Speering and Amy Frogge.
“It is still pending in court,” Bush told The Tennessee Star. “It is being heard by our attorney. Right now, it is looking like we will prevail.”
Their attorney is Daniel Horwitz.
The plaintiffs allege that a clause in Joseph’s severance agreement violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, WSMV reports. The plaintiffs claim that they are not able to truthfully talk with constituents, with one another and with others, and that the clause does not allow for “truthful criticism” of Joseph.
Part of Joseph’s severance agreement includes a clause prohibiting the school board from making “any disparaging or defamatory comments regarding Dr. Joseph and his performance as Director of Schools.” Speering, Bush and Frogge voted against accepting the terms of the agreement. The motion still passed, 5-3.
The school board bought out Joseph’s contract in April 2019, The Star reported at the time. Terms included allowing Joseph to earn his normal salary through July 31, 2019 and cutting him a check for $261,250.
Bush told The Star that, “Under the law, you cannot silence or gag any elected official and violate our constitutional rights.”
She said Metro’s legal department knew the clause was allegedly illegal but they permitted the clause to be used.
“We do see a victory,” Bush said.
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