Students, parents protest transfer of teacher facing sex charges Situation handled 'badly,' they say PASADENA

August 13, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

For about an hour last night, car horns punctuated the rallying cries of about 60 students and parents who turned out at Northeast High School to protest the transfer of Harry Lentz, a teacher and baseball coach there for more than 26 years, after allegations arose that he sexually harassed a female teacher in the late 1980s.

Carrying signs that said "Honk for Lentz" and "Call the Board of Education 222-5304," parents and students lined of Duvall Highway in front of the school, periodically chanting "We want Lentz."

"We don't think he should be transferred," said Mary Arrington, parent of a 10th-grader at the Pasadena school. "If he's such a bad man, why are they letting him teach at another school? Mr. [Roger] Stitt and Mr. Lentz haven't had their day in court. The whole situation has been handled badly."

Mr. Lentz and Mr. Stitt, a fellow teacher also facing harassment allegations, are to be given their new assignments Aug. 25.

Robert Moore, an 18-year-old who will start his senior year at Northeast Sept. 1, praised Mr. Lentz. "You learned what he taught you, and if you didn't, he wouldn't go on until you understood," he said.

Bill Atwell, a 1992 graduate of Northeast, said that what Mr. Lentz "taught me on the field and in school is the way I handle my life."

Last week, the two teachers, who have been on paid leave since mid-June, learned they were being transferred to other positions.

Mr. Stitt, 44, confirmed his transfer and said it appears he also will lose his longtime job as Northeast's athletic director. Mr. Stitt declined to discuss the allegations or what, if any, action he plans to take in an effort to stop the transfer.

Mr. Lentz, 49, the baseball coach whose 1991 team was top-ranked nationally, has not returned repeated telephone calls, but sources close to him confirmed the transfer.

Mr. Lentz and Mr. Stitt, both social studies teachers, were placed on administrative leave with pay about a month ago, after allegations that they sexually harassed Marlene Ramey, a teacher at Northeast, in the late 1980s.

Ms. Ramey never formally complained to Northeast administrators about the alleged harassment, but she obtained a midyear transfer at the time to South River High School, then moved to Southern High School. Ms. Ramey now teaches at Annapolis High School.

The moves follow a debacle at Northeast that began in April with the arrest of Ronald Walter Price, a 49-year-old Northeast social studies teacher who also was a drama and softball coach. Mr. Price has been charged with three counts of child sex abuse and has admitted on national television to having sexual relationships with eight young women while they were his students.

Two other teachers, Laurie S. Cook, a 33-year-old science teacher, and Charles A. Yocum, a 30-year-old special education, social studies and science teacher, have been charged with one count each of child sex abuse involving a student.

An investigation ordered by state school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick found the school system negligent in its handling of the Price case because no action was taken against the man despite repeated allegations by students, teachers and parents beginning in 1986.

The state report also said that "one teacher believes that she was harassed by Price's closest colleagues for having reported his conduct to other school staff and that her complaints of harassment to the principal were ignored."

The report did not identify the alleged victim or which of Mr. Price's colleagues may have sexually harassed her.

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