Secretary Says Firing Was Retaliation

     PALM SPRINGS, Fla. (CN) – A Florida high school secretary claims in a lawsuit that she was fired for reporting a principal who was bringing marijuana to school and fraternizing with students.
     In a complaint filed in Palm Beach County on June 1, Jackelin Cruz claims she was fired from her job with Mavericks High School in retaliation for telling police about a weed stash that she spotted inside Principal Krista Morton’s purse.
     Cruz says she found out about Morton’s marijuana use after entering a staff bathroom and discovering the principal’s purse on the floor. She says she picked it up to return it, and immediately detected a “strong odor of marijuana.” Upon further examination, she says, she saw “a bag of marijuana and a thick looking cigarette.”
     She claims she “went straight to an on-duty Palm Springs police officer,” but no charges were filed against Principal Morton.
     A few days later, Cruz was called into a meeting, and Morton allegedly asked her to resign. Cruz refused, so Morton fired her on the spot, the complaint says.
     Then, around May 2015, police arrested Morton after they found her in a vehicle, purportedly smoking weed with a teenager.
     According to the police report, the principal’s shirt was “unbuttoned,” and the vehicle smelled like marijuana.
     The caller who had phoned the authorities “was unsure but thought there were people in the back seat, engaged in sexual activity or being attacked,” the police report states.
     Morton at first told police she was lonely and had just met the young man, according to the report. When police questioned the 18-year-old, however, they determined that he was a senior at Morton’s high school.
     In the civil suit, Cruz claims she had long been clamoring about Morton’s behavior, yet no one heeded her words. She’s demanding damages for wrongful termination pursuant to Florida’s whistle-blower law.
     Citing alleged violations of Chapter 110 statutes, the lawsuit also claims Morton pressured employees to attend a local election event in support of a candidate. The complaint claims Cruz and her coworkers were told that attending the event was mandatory.
     Cruz’s objection to the politically slanted job obligations contributed to Morton’s decision to fire her, according to the complaint.
     School administrator ACH of America and Mavericks in Education, the charter school operator that ran Mavericks High, are named as defendants.
     Cruz is represented by Ed Rosenberg in Miami.
     Morton was reportedly suspended from teaching responsibilities following the May arrest.
     Police gave her a misdemeanor marijuana citation.
     Representatives of the defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.

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