Schools took 'appropriate response' after investigation of principal

Officials will not describe actions against principal who asked Filipino teachers to sell cosmetics

  • The principal at the Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship High School recruited teachers to sell cosmetics.
The principal at the Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship… (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
March 16, 2010|By Liz Bowie | liz.bowie@baltsun.com

Though several public officials have criticized a city principal who recruited Filipino teachers to buy and resell Mary Kay products, Baltimore school board President Neil E. Duke said Monday that the system responded appropriately in its handling of the case and that the board would not investigate any further.

"A very thorough investigation was undertaken which resulted in an appropriate response by the administration," Duke said, adding that he would not comment on what that response was because it is a personnel issue.

But other officials said they were outraged by the actions of Janice Williams, the principal of Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship, who sometimes went to her teachers' classrooms last school year to ask for their credit cards to purchase lipstick, perfume, foundation and eye makeup, according to three of the Filipino teachers. The teachers, who did not want to be named for fear of retribution, said they bought thousands of dollars of Mary Kay. They never intended to use the products and were unable to resell most of them, but they thought that buying the cosmetics would keep them in good standing with their boss.

Williams, who is an independent sales director for Mary Kay, stood to gain financially. Documents show that she was the subject of an internal investigation last year, but it is unclear what, if any, action was taken against her. She remains the principal of IBE. She has denied recruiting the teachers to sell cosmetics.

City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she was upset that the teachers had been taken advantage of. "Shame on the principal," Clarke said. "Reimburse those teachers and make sure that this cannot happen again in that or any other school."

Clarke said she had contacted school chief Andrés Alonso on Monday and that he had assured her some action had been taken.

She said she is concerned that other teachers or people who work in the school may also have been encouraged to participate in the business.

Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English said she knew about the incident last fall and went to the administration to complain. She too was told that there was an investigation, but that the principal would remain in her job. "I was surprised that the principal was still there," English said.

"I find it odd that she is still in the building when teachers are removed for less than that," English said, although she stopped short of calling for the principal to be dismissed.

English said she believes some principals in the system are taking advantage of the international teachers, including Filipinos, in a variety of ways. For instance, she said, some principals are giving Filipino teachers additional responsibility that they should be paid for under the union contract but aren't.

City Councilman Carl Stokes, who helped found a charter school, said no manager should approach an employee and ask them to buy something, particularly when they will gain financially.

"Generally, management should not put an employee in a situation where it is obvious [the employee] would be uncomfortable," Stokes said.

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