Teacher Claims He Was Fired for Being Honest
WASHINGTON (CN) - A public schoolteacher claims in court that the District of Columbia fired him for refusing his principal's orders "to change and falsify student records, to alter test scores on standardized assessments, and to fabricate levels of student achievement."
Bruno K. Mpoy sued the District of Columbia and Donald Presswood on Aug. 14 in Superior Court.
Mpoy claims Presswood gave him the illegal orders during the 2007-08 school year, while Mpoy was a special ed teacher at Ludlow Elementary School and Presswood was his principal.
Presswood is identified in the header of the lawsuit as working now for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.
Mpoy claims that Presswood ordered him and other teachers a Ludlow to falsify the records.
Since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, individual public schools' very existence may hinge upon results of standardized test scores. The pressure has led to widespread cheating, and complicated litigation in school districts around the country.
Mpoy claims that when he refused to follow Presswood's "fraudulent, unethical" orders, he was "investigated, harassed, threatened and suspended."
He claims that he reported the harassment to administrative higher-ups, including then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
"Instead of being praised for his forthrightness and courage, Mr. Mpoy was investigated, harassed, threatened, and ultimately terminated from his teaching position at the direction of Chancellor Rhee, DCPS, and Mr. Presswood," according to the complaint.
He says he has been unable to find a teaching job since he was fired.
He seeks lost wages and damages for wrongful firing and whistleblower violations.
He is represented by Stewart Manela with Arent Fox.
On July 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a ruling that Chancellor Rhee et al. were entitled to qualified immunity for Mpoy's 2009 lawsuit.
Mpoy claimed then that "special education students to make it appear that they had demonstrated acceptable progress. When Mpoy told Presswood that he would not do it, Presswood enlisted two other teachers 'to falsify the records of plaintiff's special education students,'" according to the D.C. Circuit. (Citations omitted.)
Presswood then sent Mpoy two warning letters - one accusing him of excessive tardiness and failing to follow lesson plans, and the second accusing him of failing to monitor and escort his students during a fire drill, according to the D.C. Circuit.
On June 2, 2008, Mpoy sent the email complaint to Chancellor Rhee. "The five-page email included a one-sentence reference to Presswood's alleged direction to falsify the records of Mpoy's students," the D.C. Circuit wrote.
Two days later, Presswood called Mpoy into his office and started the procedure that would give him the ax.
According to the ruling from the three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit: "Mpoy contends that one sentence in that [June 2, 2008] email constituted speech protected by the First Amendment, and that his termination therefore violated the Constitution. The district court determined that the email did not constitute protected speech, and that even if it did, the individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. We affirm the judgment on the latter ground."