Teacher wants examiner to hear harassment case

September 02, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Northeast High School's baseball coach says he wants an independent hearing examiner, not members of the Anne Arundel County school board who may be biased, to listen to his defense against allegations he sexually harassed another teacher at the school.

"I've been shown the door on the basis of allegations that I categorically deny," said Harry Lentz at a news conference yesterday at Tick Neck Park, adjacent to the Pasadena school. "I believe that when all the evidence is heard by an impartial party, I will be vindicated. It is my fervent hope to return to teaching at Northeast."

Mr. Lentz and another social studies teacher, Roger Stitt, were accused in June of sexually harassing a female teacher at Northeast sometime in the late 1980s.

Last week, the two men found themselves transferred to "desk jobs" at the school system's central offices as a result. In addition, Mr. Lentz was told he would be suspended with pay for 30 days. Mr. Stitt, who will not be suspended, has had no comment.

"Crushed" by the situation, which he described as "devastatingly difficult," Mr. Lentz told the media and more than a dozen supporters at the news conference that he has hired lawyer H. Richard Duden III to defend him.

Mr. Duden said that in addition to asking for a hearing examiner, he also asked school board President Thomas Twombly to postpone the hearing, scheduled for Tuesday.

He said he also asked Mr. Twombly not to participate in any decisions about his client's case because "it appears that certain issues regarding Mr. Lentz's case have been prejudged."

Mr. Twombly has been quoted in the Annapolis Capital and the Maryland Gazette as saying Mr. Lentz's transfer was unrelated to his suspension.

The lawyer also questioned how acting Superintendent Carol S. Parham could transfer Mr. Lentz before he had a chance to rebut the findings of the investigation.

"My client was provided with a copy of the report Aug. 26 -- a week before his scheduled appeal," said Mr. Duden. "The report contains just the naked allegation with no substantiating facts. It never provides the circumstances, date or time the incident allegedly occurred. The complaint of one incident of offensive touching is never corroborated."

Mr. Duden also noted that the teacher who was allegedly sexually harassed did not initiate the action taken against Mr. Lentz in June.

The allegations first emerged during a state probe in July into how the school system handled the case of Ronald Walter Price, a social studies teacher and coach at Northeast accused of having sex with three young women while they were his students.

State investigators said a former teacher at the school told them she felt she had been sexually harassed in the late 1980s by Mr. Price's colleagues in the social studies department to prevent her from telling what she knew of Mr. Price's activities.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.