A Prince George’s County Council member is calling on Schools Chief Kevin M. Maxwell to fire a high school principal at the center of two discrimination cases that were recently settled.
Council member Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel) said she is “appalled by the school system’s defense of the pattern of blatantly racist behavior by the principal of Largo High School.”
Lehman said in a letter to Maxwell and Deputy Superintendent Monique Davis that the principal, Angelique Simpson-Marcus, should be removed from her job for the way she has treated former employees. The letter was e-mailed Thursday.
Max Pugh, a spokesman for the school system, said he could not confirm that Maxwell and Davis had received the letter but said, “We welcome the dialogue with legislators and our stakeholders, and we’ll prepare appropriate responses.”
Over the past month, one discrimination case went to trial and another was resolved before its court date.
Last month, a U.S. District Court jury awarded a former county English teacher a $350,000 award after he accused Simpson-Marcus of ill treatment.
Jon Everhart alleged that Simpson-Marcus, who was working as a physical education teacher at the Largo school in 2003, told students that “the only reason a white man teaches in P.G. County is that they can’t get a job elsewhere.” He filed a discrimination claim against Simpson-Marcus to the teachers’ union. He said she then targeted him, telling him if she ever became principal, he would be the first person she would fire.
When Simpson-Marcus returned to the school in 2007 as the principal, Everhart said she told his students and their parents that he “was a bad teacher . . . poor white trash . . . and would be fired,” according to his lawsuit. Everhart was fired in 2010 and then filed the lawsuit.
Keesha Bullock, a spokeswoman for the Board of Education, has said the school system supports Simpson-Marcus, describing her as an effective leader at Largo. Bullock, said the school system has filed a motion to set aside the verdict in Everhart’s case.
But Lehman said she felt “physically ill” when she read Bullock’s comments in a recent Washington Post article defending Simpson-Marcus.
“This principal has ruined people’s physical and mental health, cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, but she gets to keep her job and PGCPS defends her for turning around Largo’s academic fortunes?” Lehman wrote. “I’m stunned by the callous disregard for the school personnel this woman tormented and the message this sends to students and taxpayers that reverse racism is okay.”
Meanwhile, Judge Peter Messitte was scheduled this week to hear the case of another former employee, a black secretary, who sued the county school system because she was allegedly retaliated against for reporting Simpson-Marcus to supervisors. Instead, Messitte said, he was told by the parties in the case that it was settled.
According to Tracy Allison’s lawsuit, Simpson-Marcus called her “chicken head, bird, hood rat and ghetto.”
After Allison complained to Simpson-Marcus’s supervisor, the harassment continued, causing Allison stress and panic attacks, according to the lawsuit. She transferred to another school in August 2010.
Lehman said in an interview that she also sent the letter to her colleagues on the council, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and several state lawmakers. She said she is hoping that others will be willing to come forward.
“It’s important to speak out on this,” Lehman said. “It’s just not okay. . . I’m offended and hurt as someone who has stayed in this county through all the issues we’ve had with race relations.”