Advertisement
Education

Court orders Baltimore County school board to reinstate chief auditor following ‘unlawful’ termination lawsuit

A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge approved a temporary restraining order against the county school board, requiring Andrea Barr’s contract as chief auditor for the school system be renewed.

On May 17, the school board voted 6-0 to renew Barr’s contract. The remaining five school board members present chose to either abstain or recuse themselves from voting. However, since seven votes were needed, the board announced that the motion to renew her contract did not pass; her last day would be June 30.

Advertisement

Barr began her career in the school system’s Office of Internal Audit in 1986 and became chief auditor in 2013. Starting in 2019, Barr said she began to experience a hostile work environment from select board members who attempted “a campaign of pressure and threats” meant to influence her work.

She filed a lawsuit against Baltimore County’s school board with the circuit court, claiming that she had been terminated unlawfully. Monday, Barr asked the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctive relief. A circuit court judge signed the order that same day and filed it in the system Tuesday morning,halting the campaign to unlawfully end her 36-year career,” according to a news release from Barr’s lawyers..

Advertisement

An appeal has also been filed with the Maryland State Board of Education, requesting that the May 17 vote be stricken and board members investigated. The county board has until July 1 to respond to the appeal. School board chairwoman Julie Henn did not not respond to a request for comment.

The temporary restraining order, which lasts 10 days unless otherwise extended, tells the school board they cannot interfere with Barr’s employment or conduct “any further retaliatory action.” The board is also ordered to correct the May 17 vote to show that it was in favor of renewing Barr’s contract as well as renew Barr’s contract for July 1 through June 30, 2023. The board must “take all other actions necessary to ensure plaintiff’s employment does not end effective June 30, 2022.”

In Barr’s appeal to the state board, she asserts that the customary course of action for her contract renewal only required signoff from the superintendent. The current superintendent is Darryl Williams, whose upcoming contract renewal is being scrutinized by certain Baltimore County councilmembers. Yet, twice during her career as chief auditor, the board put her contract renewal up for vote — once in 2020 following an independent investigator’s report and again on May 17.

The preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for July 6.


Advertisement