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JCPS hearing on potential Tammy Ferry firing continues into night

JCPS hearing on potential Tammy Ferry firing continues into night

July 11th, 2019 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Tammy Ferry sits between her attorneys, David Moen, left, and Roger G. Brown, on July 10, 2019, during her hearing in the auditorium in the Miller Performing Arts Center.

Photo by Sally Ince /News Tribune.

The immediate professional future of Jefferson City Public Schools' employee Tammy Ferry had not been decided as a public hearing on Ferry's potential firing which began Wednesday afternoon continued until 2:20 a.m. Thursday.

JCPS has alleged Ferry violated district policies by transferring district data, some of which included sensitive personal information about students, to a personal email account, as well as disregarding directives given to her in the investigation to not contact other employees about the matter. The district also claims she did not return devices in her possession, including district property, while she was on paid administrative leave.

Ferry has an employment discrimination suit filed against the school district, Superintendent Larry Linthacum and Joe Martin, Ferry's supervisor and director technology. She alleged retaliation, sex discrimination and a hostile work environment.

The trial in Ferry's lawsuit was originally scheduled to begin in February, and Ferry does not dispute that she transferred district files to a personal account ahead of it.

She testified Wednesday night that she was concerned that as the trial start date neared, "that I would not have access to my files," or her access to accounts would be removed.

"Whenever a staff person has been involved in litigation, that's been done before," she testified.

Ferry wanted access to the files because she wanted a record of her employment for the lawsuit, as well as to be able to use files as work samples for future employment.

Dawn Berhorst, JCPS director of student information, planning and assessment, testified that while "there's no direct language" about a prohibition on transferring district files to a personal account, board policies do cover and prohibit it by references to other things.

Berhorst also said it does not matter that Ferry transferred files to herself in a personal account, as that's still an improper disclosure.

JCPS Director of Human Resources Shelby Scarbrough testified while Ferry's violations of the directives given to her as she was placed on administrative leave would not individually justify Ferry's termination, "it was a combination of many things."

Ryan Burns, JCPS director of communication, said the district's Board of Education will have 10 calendar days to receive the transcript of Wednesday's public hearing and then another seven days to review the transcript.

Burns said the board could make a decision about whether to fire Ferry at any time, but no later than those 17 days.

The hearing began at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the Miller Performing Arts Center with about 50 people in the audience; that number decreased as the hours went on.

Ferry's attorneys were lead in the hearing by David Moen, and the district's counselors were led by Duane Martin.

Testimony also included two parents who had received notification that their child's personal information had been impacted.

Attorneys had the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, all of whom were under oath.