Principal Says L.A. Unified Defamed Him

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Los Angeles Unified School District illegally fired a high school principal for criticizing the school district at a public meeting that made the Los Angeles Times, and because he supported his teachers’ efforts to convert the campus to a charter school, the former principal claims in Superior Court.

     Frank Wells says LAUSD appointed him principal of Locke High School in 2004. He says it was a violent and low-performing school, and that it improved dramatically under his leadership.
     However, Wells says, he thought the school could not improve sufficiently unless it converted to a charter school, in part because of the incompetence of the LAUSD administration. He said as much at a May 3, 2007 meeting attended U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. His comments were reported in the May 4 L.A. Times.
     On May 7, Wells says, his boss chewed him out for his comments, as reported by the newspaper. On May 8, Wells said, teachers at Locke voted to convert to a charter school. He was fired as principal that afternoon and assigned to a meaningless desk job, he says.
     He says the firing was in retaliation for his exercise of constitutionally protected speech.
     He claims that LAUSD administrators then defamed him by claiming, falsely, that he had been removed for “improprieties,” “leadership problems,” and/or “malfeasance”.
     He demands punitive damages for wrongful firing and defamation.
     He is represented by Philip Bucknor Jr.

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