Teacher seeks return to classroom

EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

October 19, 2008|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS | JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS,john-john.williams@baltsun.com

A county high school teacher recently placed on leave shortly after filing a racial discrimination lawsuit has filed an injunction seeking to return to the classroom.

Michelle Maupin, 40, an English teacher at Wilde Lake High who won a racial discrimination suit against the school system last year, lodged a new suit arguing that her legal action led to harassment in her new school.

Last month, Maupin said her principal, assistant principal and a police officer came to her classroom and ordered her to gather her belongings and leave the school. Maupin, who is black, said she was ordered to avoid contact with employees, parents or students associated with the school.

She said she believes that she was placed on administrative leave because of the new lawsuit.

"In my building there are parents and students," she said. "[The school system] ordered that I have no contact with any of them. That is in violation of my ... rights."

While on paid leave, Maupin said she has spent her time going to the gym, reading and corresponding via e-mails. She said she would prefer to be at work teaching her students.

"Right now, they are paying me to answer e-mails all day," she said.

In July 2007, a jury awarded Maupin $237,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for racial discrimination she said she suffered while a teacher at Centennial High in Ellicott City. A judge later reduced that award by $62,000.

The new lawsuit seeks $1 million and alleges that Maupin has received a series of reprimands, including one after telling administrators that a fellow teacher used a racial slur in front of students. She also alleges that Wilde Lake Principal Restia Whitaker, who also is black, instructed employees to make up incidents to make it appear as though Maupin had harassed them.

The court hearing on the injunction is scheduled Nov. 14.

Hollifield showcased

Hollifield Station Elementary School will be showcased Tuesday for its award-winning Recess Before Lunch program.

The school will open its doors for a news conference that will highlight how students transition from recess to lunch, according to Lisa M. de Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the county Health Department.

"Although it seems like a common-sense adjustment, Recess Before Lunch goes much more beyond a switch," de Hernandez said in a prepared statement. "It helps students eat a full, balanced meal, reduce waste, converse with friends, and settle down from playing outside."

As a result of the program, fewer students complained of stomach aches, and meals were eaten slower and completed, according to school officials.

The program has received so much attention that principal Glenn Heisey has invited interested school principals and assistant principals to discuss ways to implement the program for next school year. The state Department of Education also has expressed interest in the program, de Hernandez said.

Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin, health officer Dr. Peter Beilenson, and County Executive Ken Ulman are scheduled to be in attendance.

Gifted conference

More than 400 educators from across the state - including a group of 50 from Howard County - were scheduled to gather Friday in Baltimore County for the Maryland State Conference on Gifted and Talented Education.

Fifteen educators from Howard were asked to present at sessions at the conference, sponsored by the state Department of Education and the Maryland Educators for Gifted Students. The event, titled "Voices for Gifted Students," was scheduled to be held at New Town High School in Owings Mills.

"The theme reflects the urgent need to communicate effective methods for developing the talents of our most able students to meet the challenges of Maryland's competitive workplace," said Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the state education department.

The conference looks at science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and the underrepresented populations in gifted education, Reinhard said.

The event is intended to present an opportunity for educators to learn best practices from colleagues from throughout the state, said Penny Zimring, instructional facilitator for the system's gifted-and-talented education program.

"These are very practical teacher-to-teacher strategies," she said.

In Howard County, 25 percent of elementary school students, 30 percent of middle school students, and 40 percent of high school students participate in some form of gifted and talented or Advanced Placement programs, Zimring said.

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