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Hornsby faces $4 million in suits from former principals

by Alexander Krughoff
Staff Writer


Dec. 11, 2003

Schools CEO Andre Hornsby is facing slander lawsuits filed by two principals he demoted in August, when he publicly announced he was reassigning them because of their schools' poor academic performance.

Sinie Evans, a former principal at Nicholas Orem Middle School, and Cecile Kahan, a former principal at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, were among 12 principals reassigned by Hornsby just days before the start of the school year.

In meetings with reporters, Hornsby said he reassigned the principals because of poor student test scores.

"Hornsby has the experience to know that personnel matters are always confidential," said Stuart Grozbean, the attorney representing the two principals. "If you don't like a principal or their performance since when do you publish it in the [news]paper."

Each plaintiff is seeking $2 million in damages from Hornsby and $200,000 from the school board.

Athena Ware, a spokeswoman for Prince George's County Public Schools, declined to comment on the suit, because the court has served neither Hornsby nor the school board.

Both Nicholas Orem and Thurgood Marshall middle schools are on the state's local reconstitution list for poor student performance. The county must restructure local reconstitution schools if gains are not evident after four years of being on the list.

One of the restructuring options available to Hornsby was replacing all or most school staff related to the schools' lack of improvement. Other options included reopening poor performing schools as public charter schools, having the state Department of Education take control, or contracting with a management company to run the schools.

Only replacing the principals was considered, according to Leroy Tompkins, director of Assessment and Accountability for the school system.

The Association of Supervisory and Administrative Schools Personnel, the union representing principals, has also filed a grievance with the school board over the 12 demotions.

E-mail Alexander Krughoff at akrughoff@gazette.net.

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