Schools should act on Emory case

April 22, 1993

Now that the drug trial of Mitch and Roger Emory is over, Anne Arundel schools have no reason for not allowing Pat Emory, former principal of Severna Park Elementary School, back to work.

There has been cause to wonder why she has not been returned to work before this -- especially in light of the furor surrounding an unrelated case, that of a Northeast High School teacher who admits he has had sex with girls in his charge for at least a decade.

In spite of rumors and warnings, school officials left him in the classroom until his arrest last week.

By contrast, drug kingpin charges against Mrs. Emory, arrested last fall with her husband, Mitch, were dropped in January.

Yet school officials kept her at home, collecting her $63,837 salary, because the grand jury was still reviewing evidence.

That struck many as poor justification, considering that the panel didn't have ample cause to indict her before its term expired in December.

Still, the school system had a compelling reason for delay: her husband and brother-in-law had yet to be tried.

Mrs. Emory was a potential witness, and no one knew if testimony would reveal new, damaging information about her. It made sense to wait rather than put her back in school and risk having to pull her out again.

Now, after 13 days in court, the Emory brothers stand convicted of running the biggest marijuana ring in Anne Arundel County history.

As for Mrs. Emory, her name was barely mentioned. She never appeared in court. Not a shred of fresh information emerged to weaken her story, which is that she was having marital problems and knew nothing of her husband's dealings.

There is no question Mrs. Emory presents a dilemma for school officials. The controversy surrounding her was so intense that her return may prove distracting, especially in Severna Park.

Then, too, there is the question of how badly her credibility has been damaged. Is an individual who wasn't astute enough to recognize that a major drug ring was being operated under her own roof qualified to run a school?

Clearly, school officials have difficult decisions to make about where and in what kind of job Mrs. Emory belongs.

They have put these decisions off as long as possible. Now they have an obligation to put Mrs. Emory back to work.

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