Suspended principal wants Ehrlich's help

Former Walbrook leader asks state to investigate student-records issue

September 02, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

Accusing the Baltimore school administration of unfair treatment, suspended high school Principal Andrey Bundley asked Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday to intervene in the school system's investigation of a student-records scandal at Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy.

In a letter to the governor, attorney Warren A. Brown accused city schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland of unfairly banning his client, a former Walbrook principal, from school property and preventing him from clearing his name.

Brown asked Ehrlich and state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to take over the investigation of Walbrook and look into the system's treatment of Bundley.

"We have absolutely no confidence that a review of Dr. Bundley's stewardship at Walbrook by Baltimore City schools will be anything but farcical," Brown wrote.

The system placed Bundley on paid leave in late July and has been investigating whether nearly 100 Walbrook seniors graduated in June without meeting requirements. Several hundred other students also were allegedly promoted to the next grade although they were missing required classes. Bundley said he was interviewed by the school system's chief academic officer, Linda Chinnia, about two weeks ago.

Shareese N. DeLeaver, a spokeswoman for Ehrlich, said she was unaware of Bundley's letter to the governor and probably would not see it until Ehrlich returns tomorrow from the Republican National Convention in New York. Ronald Peiffer, deputy state school superintendent, declined to comment.

At a news conference yesterday, Bundley said he believes the school system has resolved the student-record problems, but is intentionally delaying his reinstatement. Bundley, who ran against Mayor Martin O'Malley in last September's Democratic primary, has said he believes he is being targeted for political reasons.

Bundley said he would file a grievance against the school system. If that fails, he intends to file a lawsuit claiming defamation and breach of contract.

School officials declined to comment on Bundley's accusations, saying it was a personnel matter. As for the investigation, spokeswoman Edie House said: "I think it'll be wrapped up real soon."

Bundley has countered the allegations by saying that the administration was unaware of policies he has been using for years. One policy permitted students to walk across the graduation stage if they were short a credit or two, and another allowed them to take more advanced classes while making up prerequisites they had failed so that they would not fall behind in a course sequence.

Bundley said yesterday that he was distressed that students may perceive his absence from his job as evidence of guilt. He said he is eager to begin work at Harbor City High School, where he was transferred this summer after six years at Walbrook.

"I want to take full responsibility for anything untoward that has taken place under my leadership," Bundley said, but he maintained that he has done nothing wrong.

Brown said he believes the school system has discovered that no students were improperly promoted or given diplomas and is trying to cover up its mistake.

"We know for a fact that the promotion, the graduation issues have been resolved," the attorney said. "We've talked to [guidance] counselors and ... they indicated every one of those cases -- every one -- has been resolved satisfactorily."

Brown said there were discrepancies between students' paper and electronic records that may have confused the school's new principal, who reported the problems to her superiors. Students completed required classes, but Walbrook did not have the staff to update the information in a computer database, Brown said.

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