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Former teacher sues college for $4 million


Anne Arundel Community College has been slapped with a $4 million suit by a former teacher who alleges he was wrongfully dismissed in 1992 because of his age.

Robert J. Smith, who spent 20 years in the electronic engineering technology department, alleges he was fired July 7, 1992, because of a conspiracy orchestrated by Thomas E. Florestano, the school's former president.

The suit was filed Friday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

Mr. Smith, 63, of the 600 block of Bayside Drive, Stevensville alleges that unsatisfactory evaluations and peer review reports that led to his dismissal were prompted by a desire to get rid of him because of his age.

Mr. Florestano; Willard R. Mumford, then chairman of the electrical technologies division; and others believed that Mr. Smith "because of his age and relative proximity to retirement, had outlived his usefulness at Anne Arundel Community College and was an expendable member of the faculty," the 28-page suit says.

It names as defendants the college board of trustees; Mr. Florestano, who stepped down as president last year; Mr. Mumford; and several faculty members.

The suit seeks $4 million on separate counts of breach of contract, denial of due process, interference with a contract and civil conspiracy.

Theone M. Relos, the school's spokeswoman, declined comment.

Mr. Florestano was unavailable yesterday, but Mr. Mumford said he had nothing to do with the peer review process that led to Mr. Smith's termination.

Mr. Mumford said he was terminated as well in 1994 because of enrollment declines in his subjects.

"I certainly wasn't aware of any conspiracy or unfair treatment [involving Mr. Smith] at all," he said.

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