A Michigan school district that is being sued by a former elementary school principal is seeking to have the case dismissed in order to avoid having the matter go to trial. Tracy Sahouri, who was once employed as the principal at Creekside Elementary School, filed the lawsuit against her former employer in April of 2012. The legal action is centered around the manner in which Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests were administered at the school in 2011.
In court filings, Sahouri alleges that she brought to light several irregularities regarding the administration of the standardized tests in the district. Specifically, she alleges that Creekside teachers had gained inappropriate access to the writing section of the test prior to the tests being given to students. Sahouri felt that her actions should have been protected under the federal government’s Whistleblower Protection Act.
The act’s essential purpose is to prevent the unlawful or unwarranted dismissal of employees who publicly expose wrongdoing. Accordingly, Sahouri believed that her actions should have protected her against being discharged for reasons connected to the whistleblowing. However, when it was time for Sahouri’s contract as a principal to be renewed, the board of education unanimously voted that the renewal should not go through.
The district alleged that it was Sahouri who mishandled the tests, and that it was investigators from the district who ultimately uncovered the irregularities. Accordingly, the district reassigned Sahouri, who was then working as a high school vice principal, as a special education teacher and Sahouri filed suit.
In May of 2013, an independent panel recommended that the school district offer Sahouri a $525,000 settlement. The district refused to make such a settlement offer, and is now moving to have the case summarily dismissed instead.
Sahouri and her attorney remain adamant about the merits of their case and their willingness to go to trial. The lawsuit includes claims for slander, libel and invasion of privacy, all relating to the school district’s making information about the matter available to the media. A formal hearing on September 23 will determine whether or not the lawsuit moves forward.