Third Circuit makes decision in appeal of fired Rapides school teacher

RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The Third Circuit Court of Appeal has both affirmed and remanded parts of a 2016 judgement that reversed the termination of a former Rapides Parish teacher, Patricia Powell.

In October 2016, Judge Tom Yeager, while he was still sitting on the civil bench, reversed the termination of Powell, a tenured teacher, after she was terminated during a Rapides Parish School Board hearing in 2001.

Powell, who had a lengthy career of teacher in schools throughout Rapides Parish, began working for the public school system in 1989. She consistently received excellent evaluations.

However, in 1998 comments made by Powell related to a lawsuit between the school board and the former superintendent of schools, Betty Cox, were published in The Town Talk. Shortly after, she was evaluated again at work and received a mostly unsatisfactory evaluation.

Powell was later let go in 2001.

Powell alleged in a lawsuit she filed against the school board that the school board essentially punished her for her critical comments in the paper, leading up to her termination.

Judge Yeager agreed with Powell and also awarded her $1,147,732, plus interest and court costs last year. But, the school board filed an appeal.

In a decision from the Third Circuit, the court "affirmed the portion of the district court's judgement reversing the termination of Ms. Powell but remand to the district court the portion of the judgement awarding damaged to Ms. Powell to the set amount of damages with proper decretal language." All cost of the appeal are assessed to the school board.