Judge flunks ex-teacher for late papers

Woman seeks job back after `not guilty' ruling on sexual abuse charges

January 15, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Laurie S. Cook, the one-time Northeast High School teacher who was found not guilty of charges of having sex with a male student, got an "F" in court yesterday for not turning in her assignment on time.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom dismissed Cook's appeal of her firing because she failed to file required court documents explaining the reasons for her appeal on time.

"Cook might have rejected an assignment or a test which a student wanted to turn in more than two months late, as this would be unfair to more diligent students," Caroom wrote.

"That is exactly what we thought this decision should be," said P. Tyson Bennett, school board lawyer.

Cook's lawyers asked Jan. 7 for more time to file the memorandum and wanted to postpone a hearing that had been scheduled for last Monday. They said they had been hired recently, as Cook could not afford a lawyer before.

But Caroom said that was unfair to the school system, which would face more legal fees it probably could not recover.

Cook's lawyers were unsure yesterday if this would end her battle to regain her job.

"An appeal is also a possibility," said Rita Pazniokas, one of Cook's lawyers.

An Anne Arundel jury found Cook, 38, of Catonsville, not guilty in 1993 of child sexual abuse and related criminal charges in her relationship with a male student at the Pasadena high school.

But the Anne Arundel County school board found that her association with the student and his family was improper and fired her in March 1995.

The former science teacher, who denied wrongdoing, has been trying to get her job back.

In June, the State Board of Education upheld the local school board, and Cook went to court.

Cook was one of a string of teachers accused in 1993 of having sex with students. Her case was the last to be resolved. Ronald W. Price, the teacher whose admission of sleeping with a half-dozen students started the accusations, was the only one convicted. He has since died.

Pub Date: 1/15/99

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