Teacher aims to bar contact by ex-boss

Instructor accuses ousted principal of trying to run her off the road

March 24, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

Ousted Annapolis High School Principal Deborah Williams faces a civil court hearing Friday on a teacher's petition for a permanent restraining order against her former supervisor, who she alleges tried to run her off the road Thursday.

Milagros M. Cancel, a Spanish teacher who works at Annapolis and South River high schools, told police that Williams followed her onto U.S. 50 in Annapolis a day after the principal was removed from her post and reassigned to a job in the central administration.

Police have not filed charges in the incident. They referred the woman's complaint to an Anne Arundel County District Court commissioner, who issued a temporary "peace order" Friday without ruling on the merits of the complaint.

The order bars Williams from contacting Cancel or visiting her home or the schools where she works.

Last Wednesday, schools Superintendent Eric J. Smith replaced Williams after a rocky eight-month tenure during which parents and teachers demanded she be replaced.

Critics accused Williams, who was brought in by school officials to address the school's academic and disciplinary problems, of being heavy-handed and lacking a clear strategy for improvement. Williams has said that teachers at the school were uncooperative and resistant to change.

Williams, 50, did not return calls yesterday seeking comment about the court order. Her attorney, Alan Legum, declined to comment.

Annapolis High and the school system's headquarters, where Williams works, are about three-tenths of a mile apart on Riva Road, which has an entrance to U.S. 50.

In her complaint, Cancel wrote that Williams followed her about 2:40 p.m. onto eastbound U.S. 50 and "threw her car against my car causing me nearly a fatal collision with the rail." There is no police report of such a collision.

The 46-year-old Annapolis resident said she and Williams made eye contact, and she alleged that the principal's car swerved toward her vehicle a second time.

School officials said they received a phone call from Cancel on Thursday afternoon and referred the matter to police. "It's not our area of responsibility," said Jonathan Brice, a school system spokesman.

In her police complaint, Cancel said she had left the Prince George's County school system to get away from Williams, who was a principal there and allegedly had harassed her in the past. Cancel said she feared that Thursday's alleged incident was a case of Williams "retaliating because of her removal" from Annapolis High, according to a police report.

Cancel also told police that she filed a grievance against Williams in October and took a leave of absence of more than a month late last year, according to the report.

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