Six former and current teachers at Kemp Mill Elementary School are suing Montgomery County Public schools over allegations of bullying by the school’s principal, says the Washington Post. The suit claims Principal Floyd Starnes bullied and harassed teachers who sought to improve classroom conditions. The teachers also allege that the county board of education was aware of Starnes’ behavior and did nothing to stop it.
According to the complaint, filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, the principal subjected the teachers to unwanted touching, verbal abuse, harassment, and retaliation. The complaint also alleges that Starnes failed to report suspected child abuse or crack down on student bullying.
In a system-wide school climate survey issued every year, the portion of teachers who said they would recommend Kemp Mill as a good place to work dropped from 100 percent to only 10 percent, from the year before Starnes’ arrival to the 2010-2011 school year, according to the lawsuit.
Montgomery schools spokesman Dana Tofig confirmed that the complaints about the principal have been brought up before. “But they were investigated and found to have little or no merit,” he said. Doug Prouty, president of the Montgomery County Education Association, said that union representatives made extra visits to the school in recent years “to work to make sure there’s a positive work environment.”
Source: Washington Post, 3/21/12, By Michael Alison Chandler
[Editor's Note: Staff-to-staff or staff-to-student bullying suits are less common than those alleging student-to-student bullying, but not unheard-of. For example, in December 2011 Legal Clips summarized an article in the Livingston Daily reporting that the mother of a student at Howell High School had filed a federal lawsuit against the teacher she claims punished and humiliated her son after he expressed his religious beliefs about homosexuality during a class discussion. Superintendent Ron Wilson said the board’s policy is simple: it does not tolerate bullying by teachers or students based on gender or sexuality.]