Demoted principal wins appeal before school board

June 03, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore County school administrator, demoted by Superintendent Stuart Berger during a controversial shake-up last spring, has won her appeal before the county school board.

Five members of the board last week agreed to "disagree with the superintendent's decision" to reassign Shirley Gordon, who had been principal of Hebbville Elementary School for three years when she was transferred last June.

The board did not reinstate Ms. Gordon as principal because she did not wish to return. But it did order the superintendent to "remove from Ms. Gordon's personnel file, should such documentation exist, references to any negative causation for her reassignment."

"I think this is a significant decision that the board has disagreed with the superintendent . . . and that it will be precedent-setting," said Ms. Gordon's attorney, Howard Needle.

Ms. Gordon was among 40 principals and assistant principals demoted last year in a move that helped provoke discord among staff and parents.

She was transferred from Hebbville to a specialist's position in the southeastern district office in Dundalk, which was clearly a demotion, though the school system tried to argue that it wasn't, Mr. Needle said.

In September "she was, in effect, promoted" to her present position as supervisor of career technology in the office of special education at school system headquarters at Greenwood.

Ms. Gordon is happy with this assignment, which is a 12-month job at the same salary level as a principal's job, he added.

Even so, she appealed her case through the system, and lost before a hearing examiner. She then appealed to the school board, saying that her transfer was arbitrary and caused "humiliation and diminution of respect."

"I've always been reassigned with dignity, until [last June's] reassignment," said Ms. Gordon, who has been a county teacher and administrator for 17 years. She was an assistant principal at Edmondson Heights and Riverview Elementary schools and principal for one year at Riverview before moving to Hebbville.

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