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Maryland board of education upholds firing of Key High School teacher

THE BALTIMORE SUN

State education officials have upheld the Carroll County school board's dismissal of a former teacher who claimed that racial discrimination led to unfair evaluations of her work and ultimately to her dismissal.

Thelma P. Smith, who taught business education at Francis Scott Key High School in the 1996-97 school year, appealed a performance evaluation and her January 1998 firing to the Maryland State Board of Education.

In a decision released Tuesday, the state board determined that racial discrimination did not play a part in Smith's unsatisfactory evaluation or her subsequent dismissal. The board upheld the findings of a state administrative law judge, who declined to question the Carroll board's conclusions.

The Sun was unable to reach Smith for comment.

Smith joined the staff of Francis Scott Key High School in September 1996 as the school's only African-American teacher after teaching in Baltimore City schools for four years. She said she encountered "backwoods behavior and hostility" at the Uniontown school. She said racism was pervasive and administrators repeatedly ignored or minimized her complaints about disrespectful students and parents.

The state board found no basis for Smith's claim of discrimination. It noted the Carroll board's assessment: "It is unfortunate that Ms. Smith is of the opinion that nearly any circumstance in which she had a disagreement with another person is the consequence of racial bias towards her."

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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