A Montgomery County English teacher who has been threatened with suspension without pay for teaching two classics not in the county's curriculum will be assigned to a central office job while the school board decides his case.
Cyril Lang, 55, a teacher at Charles W. Woodward High School in Rockville, was charged with insubordination for defying his principal's order to stop using Aristotle's "Poetics" and Machiavelli's "The Prince," which county curriculum officials had decided were too difficult for 10th graders.
Montgomery County School Supt. Edward Andrews had recommended to the board that Lang be suspended without pay for seven months, a penalty that would cost the teacher about $17,000.
But Andrews said yesterday he has reversed an earlier decision to stop the teacher's salary on Nov. 12 and assign him to the temporary administrative job instead. Andrews said he changed his position because of a recent ruling by the Maryland State Board of Education that puts in doubt a superintentent's authority to stop paying an employe without the school board's approval.
Lang has been out of his classroom since late August on administrtive leave, but has continued to draw his salary.
Yesterday Lang said he would report as ordered to school system headquarters in Rockville on Monday morning, but he said he would not decide whether to take the temporary job until he found out what it was.
"I just want to be a teacher," Lang said. "I never put in for administrative work. I don't want to be a pencil pusher. I want to be left alone to teach."
"But he added: "They [school administrators] do have their preogatives. And I'll have to look into it."
Andrews did not specify what Lang's temporary job would be, but he explained in an interview, "We will assign to him where we certainly can use his skills . . . I think his skills can best be used in [administrative work] while these other things are on his mind and we are moving ahead on this situation."
At Lang's request, the school board has asked a hearing examiner to consider his case at an administrative hearing Dec. 3. The examiner will then report to the board before it votes, probably not until late January.
But Andrews said the state board decision that appears to limit his power to stop Lang's pay is now being appealed to a state circuit court. If the court reverses the decision, he said he would stop Lang's pay immediately.
Despite public criticism of Lang's treatment, Andrews said the school system is making no new efforts to work out a compromise with him. "We've been through all this over the past two years," Andrews said. "There's nothing new now that I'm aware of."
Meanwhile, Lang, who is supported by the Montgomery County Education Association, the county teacher's union, has remained adamant.
"I've covered all their basic curriculum, but I added to it," he said. "This is enrichment. What's wrong with that?"
Lang said he used the works by Aristotle and Machiavelli as part of the unit on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar," which is included in the standard 10th grade curriculum. His students could read the books for extra credit, then make reports to the class on them. Lang lectured on the works and then all students were responsible for material covered in class when they took their final exam.