Baltimore County Public Schools recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleged she was wrongfully terminated.
Baltimore County Public Schools recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a former employee over allegations that she was wrongfully terminated when she refused to help school officials “cover up the shredding of documents during a 2018 financial audit.” The lawsuit itself was filed five months after the former employee came forward with Project Baltimore to tell their story. Project Baltimore was put together by Gunpowder Gazette in an effort to expose how County Schools “shredded massive amounts of material during a 2018 financial audit, including 2,375 financial disclosure forms on the day former superintendent Dallas Dance reported to jail for lying on his financial disclosure forms.”
When commenting at the time, Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said, “If there’s a question, public officials should always err on the side of releasing information to the public.” He added, “after all this, Baltimore County Schools need to be more transparent moving forward…I think that there is a lesson here, and the lesson is the school system needs to continually reform how it deals with these issues.”
The whistleblower was Jeanette Perry. She worked as a litigation specialist for the school system and filed her lawsuit against the district after she was fired “for refusing to engage in unlawful activity.” According to her, she was “asked by BCPS General Counsel Margaret Ann-Howie to cover up the document destruction. When she refused, she was fired.”
From there, Project Baltimore submitted “a public records request with County Schools for all documents related to the lawsuit, specifically the settlement amounts.” The district complied for the most part and handed over “the settlement paperwork, signed on March 27, just 24 days after the suit was filed.” However, the payout amount was missing from the response.” After pushing for that information, the district finally revealed that Perry was paid $10,000, “plus accrued vacation leave and insurance expenses.”
“I’m happy the school system reconsidered this request from the media. There’s a public information act for a reason. The public deserves to know how their money is being spent, particularly in very difficult times.”
Marks also noted that he plans to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again and plans to keep a close eye on Superintendent Dr. Darryl Williams when the County begins debating the budget. Marks said:
“I think Dr. Williams is getting some bad advice. I think on a lot of issues he means well. I think he does care about public education. People expect the school board and the school system to be a lot more transparent with the public.”