O’Fallon schools settle suit with employee who says she was fired for criticizing boss

O’Fallon School District 90 has settled a federal lawsuit filed by a former school secretary who alleged she was fired because she was critical of her boss.

June Isselhardt sued in 2016. She alleged she was let go because she criticized the superintendent to a school board member, which she argued is a violation of her right to free speech.

The district denied Isselhardt’s allegations, according to court documents.

In a statement to the Belleville News-Democrat, school board president John Wagnon said the district’s insurance company chose to settle out of court.

In May, Isselhardt and District 90 leaders signed a $30,000 settlement agreement, which was paid by the district’s insurer. The case had been scheduled to go to trial May 14.

District 90 denied any liability, according to the agreement, which was provided to the BND on Thursday.

An attorney for Isselhardt could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the 2016 lawsuit, Isselhardt told a school board member that she was concerned about Hruby’s job performance and office behavior. Among Isselhardt’s allegations were that Hruby wasted taxpayer money.

Isselhardt wrote about her concerns in emails using her district email address. She alleges that Hruby confronted her in January 2016 about approximately 20 messages in which Isselhardt had criticized Hruby.

Hruby allegedly told Isselhardt that the emails were inappropriate and would be grounds for dismissal. The school board voted to fire Isselhardt on Jan. 25, 2016.