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Ousted Annapolis principal sues system

Ousted Annapolis High School Principal Deborah Williams is suing the Anne Arundel County Board of Education and Superintendent Eric J. Smith, saying she is being wrongfully terminated from the school system at the end of this month because of racial discrimination.

The lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court alleges that Smith caved in to pressure from parents and teachers who "retaliated against [Williams] for her efforts to dismantle the longstanding system of racial discrimination, segregation and favoritism that existed" at Annapolis High School.

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Williams is seeking more than $500,000 in compensatory damages and an undetermined amount in "back and front pay."

School officials declined to comment on the complaint. "It's currently under review," said Jonathan Brice, a school system spokesman. School board President Paul Rudolph could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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Williams, an African-American, became Annapolis High's principal in July. She was removed in mid-March and transferred to a job in the central administration. The school's new principal, Donald Lilley, is also African-American.

During Williams' eight-month tenure, a group made up primarily of white teachers and parents campaigned for her removal, saying she was an ineffective leader whose focus on minority students polarized the school along racial lines.

Williams has said in previous interviews that she was appalled by what she felt were certain teachers' low expectations toward black students, who make up nearly half of the school's students.

After publicly supporting her for months, Smith abruptly transferred her, noting "security concerns" at the school under her leadership.

A few weeks later, Williams received a negative performance evaluation. Smith later wrote her a letter informing her that her contract would not be renewed at the end of her one-year probationary period, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

Williams claims in the lawsuit that the terms of her employment did not include a period of probation and that she is being targeted because of her race.


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