2 unions, officials sued by principal

Howard High educator alleges `smear' campaign

She asks $1.5 million in damages

Howard County

July 17, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

The principal of Howard High School is suing officials with the county and state teacher's unions, as well as the unions themselves, claiming that they conducted a "smear" campaign against her.

Mary J. Day, who has served as principal of Howard High School since 1995, names the Howard County Education Association and its president, Joseph R. Staub Jr., and the Maryland State Teachers Association and its union business agent assigned to Howard County, Marius Ambrose in her lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for each of several counts alleging breach of contract, negligence and civil conspiracy. The suit also asks for a restraining order prohibiting the defendants from "further illegal acts against her" and repayment of the union dues she has paid to the county and state organizations during her career.

The lawsuit alleges that Staub took a "malice-inspired" "confidence/no confidence survey" in May 2001, asking Howard High teachers to assess Day's performance as a result of concerns that had been raised by union members.

"This campaign by the Defendants was the latest in an ongoing, long-term campaign of using smear tactics and other illegal actions to attack plaintiff Mary J. Day, specifically, and other African-American administrators and teachers in the Howard County Public Schools, generally," the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also alleges that Ambrose was "directly and indirectly" responsible for complaints filed against Day and that Staub wrote a "misleading, malicious and damaging" letter to the editor for local papers. The lawsuit further alleges that both were trying to distract Day and force school officials to fire her.

Ambrose could not be reached for comment yesterday. James Whattam, associate general counsel for the state teachers union, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

Staub said he was told not to comment on the lawsuit until his attorneys had reviewed it. "She has a right to file lawsuits when she wants to. I guess that's why we have attorneys to respond to this kind of thing," he said.

Day referred all questions to her lawyer, Charles Jerome Ware, who did not respond to messages left yesterday.

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