GREENBELT, Md. (CN) – A high school teacher claims in court that his bosses retaliated against him for reporting that a security guard was shaking down special ed students for money.
Parris Easley sued the Prince George’s County Board of Education in Federal Court. They are the only parties to the complaint, which names names.
Easley, a biology and certified special ed teacher, says he’s taught at Duval High School for 16 years. “Mr. Easley is an African American teacher,” he says in the complaint.
Easley claims that one of his special ed students told him, “that a security guard, Ulysses Lee, was regularly taking money from him and other special education students.”
“According to the student, Mr. Lee threatened to have the students suspended for gambling if they did not provide him with money when he demanded it.
“According to the student, Mr. Lee usually kept the money for his own personal use.”
Easley says he reported this to an assistant principal, who “summoned Mr. Lee.”
“Mr. Lee pledge[d] to go after the student,” the complaint states.
It continues: “However, the accusation that Mr. Lee was taking money from the students for his own personal use was not addressed by the assistant principal.
“Mr. Easley then reported the student’s accusation to the head of security at Duval High School.
“Mr. Lee then approached Mr. Easley in a physically threatening manner and accused Mr. Easley of jeopardizing his job.
“Shortly thereafter, Eric Harrison, the principal of Duval High School, scolded Mr. Easley for filing a complaint against Mr. Lee.
“When Mr. Easley insisted that Mr. Lee was taking money from his students, principal Harrison told Mr. Easley that he could transfer to another school.
“Mr. Easley chose to remain at Duval High School, but he immediately became the target of a series of unwarranted disciplinary actions that included being removed from the school for a week.”
Then, Easley says, “the student who complained to Mr. Easley about Mr. Lee was falsely charged with gambling on the school property by Mr. Lee.”
“The student was expelled from Duval High School.
“The student was also charged with gambling and referred to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.”
Easley claims another special ed student complained that Lee “was regularly taking money from him and other special education students.”
This time, Easley said, he complained to the school board hot line.
“At about this time, Mr. Easley witnessed Mr. Lee physically assault the second student who complained to him about Mr. Lee.
“Mr. Lee put his forearm to the student’s throat, slammed him up against the wall, and then applied a choke hold.
“The student was then expelled from Duval High School.”
After this, Easley says, “for the first time in his life,” he began suffering attacks of extreme anxiety. One was so bad he had to go to a hospital emergency room.
For the first time in his 16 years at Duval H.S., Easley says, he was given an “unsatisfactory” rating by his principal, “under the vague category of ‘professionalism.'”
He says he complained to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which investigated.
After he complained about the retaliation to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which investigated.
Finally, in April this year, Easley says, he saw principal Harrison violently grab a 15-year-old special education student and slam him to the floor.
Easley says the “assault” was recorded on a security camera, and that he told a school board investigator that he had seen it.
Harrison suspended the student in May and gave Easley an unsatisfactory rating for the 2011-12 school year, the complaint states.
Easley says Harrison resigned in June.
Easley seeks $1 million in damages for retaliation and “embarrassment, humiliation, stress, anxiety, and inconvenience.”
He is represented by Bryan Chapman of Washington, D.C.