2nd teacher reinstated in sex harassment case Athletic director at Northeast High

September 30, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

A second Northeast High School teacher is being reinstated after the teacher who said she was sexually harassed by them refused to testify about it before the Board of Education.

Acting county Superintendent Carol S. Parham told Roger Stitt yesterday that she is returning him to Northeast High School. The complaint against the other teacher, Harry Lentz, was dropped when Marlene Ramey refused to testify at a Sept. 9 hearing. He also was reinstated.

Both Mr. Stitt, also the school's athletic director, and Mr. Lentz, the baseball coach, had been transferred to desk jobs in the system's central offices in June. The moves came in the wake of remarks that Mrs. Ramey made to investigators during their internal probe into the school system's handling of the case of Ronald Walter Price, convicted this month of sexually abusing three female students.

Mr. Stitt, 45, said last night that he is pleased to be returning to the school where he has taught for 25 years. He, like Mr. Lentz, 49, has denied wrongdoing.

Mrs. Ramey said yesterday that she stands by her statements that the two men sexually harassed her more than five years ago, when she was the sole female teacher in the social studies department.

"Everything in my statement is true," she said in an interview. She said that she refused to testify before the school board largely because she had not initiated charges against the men.

"At no time did Mrs. Ramey initiate the idea that either Mr. Lentz or Mr. Stitt should be brought before the Board of Education on charges of sexual harassment. At all times, Mrs. Ramey was simply answering questions about the situation at Northeast High School," says a letter written by her lawyer, Alan Legum, to the school system.

The letter also says that Mrs. Ramey felt "overwhelmed" and "isolated" by having her statements become the basis for removing the popular teachers from the school and by news accounts of the cases.

Mrs. Ramey, now a teacher at Annapolis High School, told special assistant to the superintendent Huntley Cross, while he was investigating the Price matter in the spring, that Mr. Stitt and Mr. Lentz had sexually harassed her. But her remarks took on a life of their own when the administration decided to pursue them as sexual harassment charges and call her as a witness, she said.

The school system, Mrs. Ramey said, was aware in October 1988 that she claimed the two men sexually harassed her. In her letter seeking a transfer from Northeast, she indicated that she had complained to the Northeast administration about being subjected to unwelcome sexual remarks and advances. But then, she said, the harassment was replaced by hostility.

Later that year, she obtained a mid-year transfer to South River High School.

School board lawyer P. Tyson Bennett said that the school system, like other employers, has a responsibility to pursue allegations whether the employee wants that or not.

He said he did not know why the school system did not act in 1988, but said he was unaware of the situation back then.

Meanwhile, Alan I. Baron, hired by the school board to probe its handling of allegations of sexual abuse of students by teachers, is scheduled to speak to teachers at Northeast this afternoon. The school's staff sought the meeting.

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