Board of Trustees of Weston County School Dist. No. 1, Weston County v. Holso

Decision Date28 August 1978
Docket Number4808,Nos. 4807,s. 4807
Citation584 P.2d 1009
PartiesBOARD OF TRUSTEES OF WESTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, WESTON COUNTY, Wyoming (John Ratigan, William Stearns, Ted Elliott, Robert Engle, Lyle Sylte, Max Decker, Fred Ertman, Jerry Dixon, and James Griffin, in their official capacity) Appellants (Some of defendants below), v. David L. HOLSO, Appellee (Plaintiff below). A. L. ALBERT, Individually, Appellant (One of defendants below), v. David L. HOLSO, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
CourtWyoming Supreme Court

Thomas L. Whitley, Newcastle and William A. Harding, Lincoln, Neb., for all appellants.

Patrick E. Hacker of Patrick E. Hacker & Associates, and Richard S. Rideout, Cheyenne, for appellee.


ROSE, Justice.

Defendants, members of the Board of Trustees of Weston County School District No. 1, in their official capacity, and A. L. Albert, individually, appeal from the judgment of the Sixth Judicial District Court, which reinstated the plaintiff as a teacher in the District with back pay and other benefits, and awarded him compensatory damages and attorney's fees. In addition to his petition for review of his termination, plaintiff asked damages in tort against the Board for malicious interference with his opportunity to pursue his professional career, and damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C., § 1983, 1 against Albert, the Superintendent of the District, for attempting to deprive plaintiff of his teaching career on the basis of constitutionally impermissible reasons. These consolidated appeals concern the propriety of every aspect of the judgment below.

We will affirm the district court judgment, which reversed the School Board's decision terminating the plaintiff, and which judgment also awarded damages and attorney's fees against Albert under the applicable federal statutes. We will reverse the judgment against the Board.

When the issue of his termination arose, plaintiff, David L. Holso, was a continuing contract teacher in his eighth year as an English teacher in the District. On March 12, 1975, the Board met in regular session to discuss contract renewals, with plaintiff's principal, Glenn Gregson, who presented a favorable evaluation of the plaintiff and recommended that he be retained. In spite of this, the members of the School Board and Superintendent Albert questioned plaintiff's performance as a teacher, particularly in the areas of his classroom discipline, his student grading, and his personal health problems. The Board directed Gregson to make a further evaluation of plaintiff and certain other teachers. Gregson On the afternoon of March 13, Albert and Gregson met with the attorney for the School Board, which meeting culminated in the mailing of a letter to plaintiff, the substance of which was that Albert was recommending plaintiff's termination to the Board for the following reasons:

testified at the plaintiff's termination hearing and at trial that he had received the impression that the Board was "out to get" Mr. Holso. On the morning of March 13, Gregson conveyed this impression to Holso, explaining that the Board was upset with his relationship with a female teacher, as well as his classroom discipline, and was also concerned about Mr. Holso's personal health problems. Later that morning, plaintiff and Gregson met with Superintendent Albert to discuss the complaints and there is conflicting evidence concerning the substance of this discussion. Plaintiff testified that Albert specifically commented on plaintiff's relationship with another teacher, saying that he (Albert) had observed plaintiff's automobile parked overnight in front of the female teacher's home during the 1974 Christmas vacation. Plaintiff further testified that the conversation had to do with plaintiff's health, as well as his failure to turn in a requested course outline. All of these matters will be discussed in greater detail later in the opinion. Mr. Holso further testified that Albert said he wasn't interested in Holso's explanations, and if he insisted on a termination hearing there wouldn't be a school in the country that would offer him a teaching job after Albert got through with him. Albert denied that he discussed plaintiff's purported immorality, or that he threatened plaintiff. He insisted that the reason he pursued plaintiff's termination was because Gregson had changed his mind and was urging that Holso be fired. Gregson consistently denied this and testified that he had Never recommended plaintiff's termination.

"1. Your physical handicap and your neglect of the care of your health which results in (a) an unusual number of absences from the classroom; (b) an inability to work up to your potential after your return from absences and when your health is neglected.

"2. Insubordination including but not limited to (a) failure to follow directions in the preparation and coordination of outlines of course contents; (b) failure to hold meetings as directed; (c) failure to attend meetings or contribute to meetings when you do attend.

"3. Other conduct that constitutes good and just cause for termination."

Concerning the general allegation of other "good and just cause," Albert testified at the termination hearing that plaintiff's alleged immorality was included as one of the significant reasons for his recommendation. Also included as is disclosed by the Board's findings was an allegation that plaintiff's grading of students was questionable.

Due to the rumors which had circulated concerning the termination proceedings initiated against him, plaintiff, on April 3rd, spent portions of several class periods answering student's questions and explaining his understanding of the grounds for his termination. Although testimony at the hearing varied as to the amount of time spent in such discussions and on the question of whether plaintiff initiated the discourse, none of the students who testified thought plaintiff had attempted to solicit student support. Superintendent Albert was notified of the class discussions by a board member. After investigation by the school attorney, Albert, on April 6, ordered plaintiff's suspension pending the outcome of the termination proceedings.

Subsequent to a hearing before the Board, commencing April 17, the suspension of April 6 was approved and plaintiff was terminated, based on the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law:

"1 The illnesses of David E. Holso (diabetes and ileostomy) interfere with his professional responsibility in the classroom and cause him to be absent from classes for substantial periods of time. On the occasions of his absences, he has failed to notify the principal's office and "2 Mr. Holso failed to complete and hand in a specific assignment of work required by his superior, Mrs. Betty Shurley. He was reminded to do so on several occasions at meetings by Mrs. Shurley and by his principal, Glenn Gregson. The assignment was the preparation of a class outline or syllabus which was to be a significant part of a booklet designed to coordinate the curriculum of English classes from kindergarten through 12th grade in Newcastle schools. Mr. Holso did not complete or hand in this work until six days after his notice of termination was given and after the booklet was assembled without his work. Mr. Holso admitted that he failed to cooperate with the head of the English department and failed to hold a high school English teachers meeting that he was directed to hold. The failure to hold the meeting was not excused by any facts shown.

the absences result in inattention to school work by the students. Mr. Holso has not carefully observed his diet and has on occasion not carefully controlled his diabetic condition. Mr. Holso failed to follow the direction of the principal that he notify the principal's office each time he found it necessary to leave his room during a class period.

"3 Mr. Holso's grading is questionable and the record of the grades he has given shows an excessive number of D's and F's over the last seven years, all of which indicates that his teaching is inadequate.

"A teacher's right to grade any particular paper or student as the teacher sees fit to do should not be limited but Mr. Holso's grading, when studied over the last seven years, shows such an unusually excessive number of F's and D's that it indicates that he has been and is an inadequate teacher.

"4 On April 3, 1975, David E. Holso spent the major part of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th period classes talking to his students in those classes about the specific grounds for his termination. The discussions were initiated by him and were not initiated by questions from the students. In his second period class he also initiated the discussion but spent less time talking about the matter. On April 3, 1975, although no specific charge of immorality had been made in the notice of termination, he injected that problem into the discussion he initiated with the students."


"1 Mr. Holso's illness and his failure properly to care for his health interfered with his performance in the classroom to the extent that it is good and sufficient cause for his termination.

"2 Mr. Holso, because of his failure to perform specific assignments of his superiors, his failure to cooperate and his failure to hold a meeting as directed by his superior and his failure to notify the principal's office each time it was necessary for him to leave his classroom was insubordinate and such insubordination is sufficient cause for his termination.

"3 The record of the grades Mr. Holso has given over the last seven years shows an unusually excessive number of F's and D's and it indicates that he is and has been an inadequate teacher and that fact is good and sufficient cause for terminating his contract.

"4 Mr. Holso's actions in the classroom on April 3, 1975, constituted...

To continue reading

Request your trial
40 cases
  • Oyler v. State
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • October 29, 1980
    ...Damage Actions in Wyoming, Minge, Wyoming Land and Water Law Review, Vol. VII, No. 1, 1972, 229, at p. 242.11 In Board of Trustees, etc. v. Holso, Wyo., 584 P.2d 1009 (1978), we considered the question of an individual's alleged injuries by public officials and employees under the Civil Rig......
  • Maine v. Thiboutot
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1980
    ...377, 413 N.Y.S.2d 530 (1979); Lange v. Nature Conservancy, Inc., 24 Wash.App. 416, 422, 601 P.2d 963, 967 (1979); Board of Trustees v. Holso, 584 P.2d 1009 (Wyo.1978); Thorpe v. Durango School District, 41 Colo.App. 473, 591 P.2d 1329 (1978), cert. granted by Colorado Supreme Court (1979). ......
  • Four Nines Gold, Inc. v. 71 Const., Inc.
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • April 12, 1991
    ...reasonable justification for interference with a contract. Id. (citing Wartensleben, 415 P.2d 613; Board of Trustees of Weston County School Dist. No. 1, Weston County v. Holso, 584 P.2d 1009, reh. denied 587 P.2d 203 (Wyo.1978); and Kvenild v. Taylor, 594 P.2d 972 (Wyo.1979)). Furthermore,......
  • Texas West Oil and Gas Corp. v. Fitzgerald, s. 86-9
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • October 21, 1986
    ...since the contractual dispute was between only two parties, and a like result was earlier found in Board of Trustees of Weston County School District No. 1 v. Holso, Wyo., 584 P.2d 1009, reh. denied 587 P.2d 203 Two Wyoming cases with some general relevancy are Allen v. Safeway Stores Incor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT