Parris Easley, a biology and special education teacher at DuVal High School in Lanham, Md., claims in court that his superiors retaliated against him for reporting that a school security guard was shaking down special education students for money.
Easley is suing the Prince George's County Board of Education in Federal Court after the school's assistant principal allegedly failed to address the security guard, Ulysses Lee, regarding taking money from students for personal use. He seeks $1 million in damages for retaliation and "embarrassment, humiliation, stress, anxiety and inconvenience." (Read the full complaint below.)
Easley went to school officials after 18-year-old Jasper Braswell, one of the students in his special education program, told him that Lee "was regularly taking money from him and other special education students," according to the complaint. The student also said Lee threatened to have the students suspended for gambling if they didn't give him the money when he demanded it.
"Individuals with attention deficit disorder are generally prone to addictive behavior, such as, gambling," Easley says in an Office of Civil Rights complaint form. "Mr. Lee allowed Jasper and other special education students to gamble on the condition that they gave him money on demand. In Jasper's case, Mr. Lee demanded money from him every couple of days."
Upon reporting the incidents, Lee allegedly "pledged to go after the student," and accused Easley of threatening his job. Easley notes in the complaint that he was then subject to disciplinary actions, such as being removed from the classroom for a week, and told by the principal that he could transfer to another school if he were so inclined.
According to the complaint, Lee falsely charged Jasper with gambling on campus. The student was later expelled and referred to the state's Department of Juvenile services. A judge threw out criminal charges against him. When another student complained that Lee was taking money from them regularly, Easley said he saw the security guard "put his forearm to the student's throat, slammed him up against the wall, and then applied a choke hold."
That student was later expelled, as well. Easley alleges that this occurred around the same time as him receiving an "unsatisfactory" rating by the principal "under the vague category of 'professionalism.'" This was the first time in Easley's 16 years at DuVal that he had received a negative rating.
Also in Maryland, Lynsai Green filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore School Board, the mayor and City County in the spring after learning that her 7-year-old son's teacher at Gwynn Falls Elementary School reportedly assaulted the child and stole his lunch money.
In the complaint, Green claimed that the teacher, Marcelius Lockes, took money from her son and another student to buy herself soda. The teacher also allegedly told the special education student that he owes her a quarter every time he "acts up" in class. The son told his mother that the teacher would tug on his ears and "jacks us up around our neck by our clothes."
One central New York teacher in June 2010 admitted to stealing students' charge cards to buy himself lunches.
In January, another New York educator, Liza Cruz Diaz, was removed from her position as principal of Public School 31 in the Bronx for stealing $5,000 from the school, in part to pay for her daughter's "Sweet 16."
Diaz was reassigned to administrative duty, though some lobbied for her termination despite her tenured status.
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