NEWS

Southern teacher sues district

By Amanda L. Snyder
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Sep. 15, 2010

Share this Story:

A Southern teacher claims he warned then-Principal LaGreta Brown students were orchestrating attacks on Asian students prior to last December’s assaults and, in an act of retribution, was reassigned to a school for instructors facing disciplinary action, according to a lawsuit filed Sept. 3 in U.S. District Court.

Bucks County resident William D. Aitken, 56, filed seven counts against the School District of Philadelphia; Superintendent Arlene Ackerman; Regional Superintendent Michael Silverman; Brown; and Assistant Principal Juanita Johnson contending first amendment retaliation; conspiracy to violate his civil rights; violation of the right to due process; violation of the Pennsylvania State Whistleblower Law; violations of freedom of expression; infringement of the freedom of association; and defamation. Aitken seeks monetary damages plus attorney fees.

Oct. 5, a student was attacked in the social studies teacher’s classroom that was organized via text messaging, according to the lawsuit. Students also were letting non-students into the building, according to the lawsuit. Bringing a cell phone to school could result in detention or in-school suspension, according to the district’s Code of Student Conduct.

The Southern teacher of five years had a meeting with Brown the following day, where he “repeatedly stressed his concern over the continuing and unnecessary compromise of the safety of Asian students” and “Brown’s obvious failure to enforce the rules banning electronic devices would have on the safety of students,” according to the lawsuit. Brown, who was hired at the start of the 2009-10 school year and, according to the lawsuit, Sept. 1 articulated her wish to staff members to dismantle the “Asian dynasty,” allegedly promised it would not happen again. Two days later, Brown “publicly denigrated Aitken’s teaching abilities” at a teacher’s meeting, the lawsuit stated.

Oct. 15, another Asian student was attacked followed by the Dec. 2 and 3 incidents, which also were orchestrated via cell phones, according to the lawsuit. Thirty students were assaulted over the two days in and around the school at 2101 S. Broad St. that culminated in an eight-day boycott by Asian students.

Assistant Principal Johnson, who had previously failed to appear at other scheduled pre-observation conferences, according to the lawsuit, sat in on Aitken’s class Dec. 7. Pre- and post-observation conferences were mandated in November ’09, according to a letter by Ackerman. Dec. 22, Johnson held a follow-up meeting where she gave Aitken an “unsatisfactory performance review.”

Feb. 3, a school officer told Aitken Brown had ordered him to confiscated his school-issued computer.

Upon hearing Brown found his memos offensive and amounted to harassment, according to the lawsuit, Aitken filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Education against Brown in March. At that time, Aitken discovered Brown “did not possess the legally required valid certification to serve as school principal in the Commonwealth,” the suit stated. He received official documentation of the claim from the Department of Education May 12; Brown stepped down the following day. Otis D. Hackney III is the current principal.

May 14, Aitken, a Philadelphia cop for more than 20 years, was “forcibly removed by police officers from his classroom in front of his astonished students,” the lawsuit stated. The complaint prompting the action stated he had threatened a school officer more than two times.

Silverman immediately assigned Aitken to Comprehensive High School, 3133 Ridge Ave., which serves teachers facing disciplinary action until June 21 and again starting Sept. 1, where he remains in a “windowless electrical storage closet” for the eight-hour school day, according to the lawsuit. SPR

Contact Staff Writer Amanda Snyder at asnyder@southphillyreview.com or ext. 117.

Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend

COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 1 of 1
Report Violation

1. jay said... on Mar 20, 2011 at 04:12PM

“You know it's bad when a teacher can freely oogle nude photos of UNDERAGE school kids... while another is getting disciplined for attempting to stop a gang beatdown. If it helps I'll never buy philadephia cream cheese again, there's something wrong with that place.”

ADD COMMENT

Rate:
(HTML and URLs prohibited)

Related Content

Mutual resolution
By Amanda L. Snyder

A former Lower Moyamensing teacher has settled his differences with his previous employer out of court.

Related Content

Rude awakening
By Amanda L. Snyder

A man was pulled out of a deep slumber early Sunday morning and, moments later, was struck in the leg by a bullet.

Related Content

Lost and found
By Amanda L. Snyder

A man accused of robbing another in Grays Ferry and escaping in a red minivan prompted the arrest of the former, as well as the driver of the vehicle.

Related Content

Jail time in Sound of Philadelphia arson
By Amanda L. Snyder

A Whitman man who set a fire at Philadelphia International Records, 309 S. Broad St., in February will serve up to 10 years in prison.

Related Content

Heavy metal
By Amanda L. Snyder

Four Point Breeze residents were nabbed for allegedly stealing hot water heaters and copper pipes from a City-owned property late Saturday morning.

Related Content

Bullets to the legs, chest
By Amanda L. Snyder

A man was riddled with bullets — possibly by two shooters — Monday night in the West Passyunk section.

Related Content

Fractured
By Amanda L. Snyder

A man suffered a broken bone when a bullet struck his leg in Newbold last week.

Related Content

The Thrill is here
By Amanda L. Snyder

The 2010 Philadelphia Hero Thrill Show is 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday outside the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., and will feature the Highway Patrol Motorcycle Drill Team, K-9 Unit, Strike Force Bicycle Stunt Team and the Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums. In addition, there will be crime-fighting displays, food, games and appearances by local mascots, Phillie Ryan Howard and Eagle Brent Celek. The rain date is Sept. 19.

Related Content

Monthly meetings set
By Amanda L. Snyder

The 1st District will hold a Police Service Area 1 meeting 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18; a community meeting 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 21; and a captain’s townhall meeting 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at its 2301 S. 24th St. headquarters.

Related Content

Don’t block the box
By Amanda L. Snyder

Motorists must not “block the box,” especially at the sports complex where officers will increase efforts to keep intersections clear, or suffer a $126.50 fine.

Related Content

Southern to combat bullying
By Joseph Myers

Exactly one year after Asian students ended an eight-day, violence-induced boycott of South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St., the School District of Philadelphia vowed to keep them and their educational brethren free from harassment, agreeing to guidelines from two probes into its safety procedures.

RELATED: Southern alum up for Peace First Prize Southern no longer persistently dangerous Better safe than sorry Back to school DOJ investigates tensions at Southern Southern leaves unfortunate past behind