Teacher in abuse case loses plea for job back Laurie Cook, cleared of crime, had asked state to reverse firing


Laurie S. Cook, the former Northeast High School teacher accused of having sex with a student, will not return to the classroom, as the Maryland State Board of Education upheld her firing.

In a decision announced yesterday, the board agreed with an bTC Anne Arundel County school board decision that she should be fired.

County schools spokeswoman Jane W. Doyle declined to comment on the state board's decision.

Cook, found not guilty in a criminal trial, has denied having an improper relationship with a student. Her attorney, M. Cristina Gutierrez, could not be reached for comment.

Although the state board did not rule on charges that Cook had sexual relations with a student, it decided that Cook's associations with students and their families went beyond the professional, and that other actions Cook confirmed were more than enough to justify dismissal, said the board's lawyer, Valerie V. Cloutier.

Cook, who taught science at the Pasadena school, was accused of having sexual encounters with a student.

Although she was acquitted of child sexual abuse in a criminal case, she was dismissed by a 5-2 vote of the county school board in March 1995.

Cook has been fighting to be reinstated. She could appeal the state board's ruling in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, but it was not clear yesterday whether she would.

In her appeal to the state board, Gutierrez questioned the propriety of the 1995 school board vote, saying that one of the five board members voting for dismissal had not been present for oral arguments before the board and therefore should not have been allowed to vote.

Guy J. Avery, an administrative law judge, upheld the board's vote on the merits of the case, saying Cook had sexual relations with a teen-age student in school and at the student's home.

Avery based his ruling on the testimony of the boy and his family.

Avery's ruling differed from the findings of William M. Ferris, an attorney the county school board hired to hear Cook's appeal of her firing by county Superintendent Carol S. Parham.

Ferris said he thought the boy made up the accusation.

Cook told the board that the boy's allegations gained credibility because of the conviction of another Northeast teacher, Ronald W. Price, of having sexual relationships with several students.

Price died in January.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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