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The Baltimore Sun

High school teacher files suit over firing

A former Sollers Point Technical High School teacher is seeking lost wages, unpaid benefits and punitive damages in a lawsuit filed yesterday that contends Baltimore County school officials wrongfully fired him last year.

Joseph F. Vrzalik of Perry Hall was fired despite "extremely laudatory" work evaluations and his completion of coursework to obtain a teaching certificate, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit does not specify an amount for damages, but Vrzalik's attorney, Howard J. Needle, said he is seeking a judgment in "the six figures."

The county school board president, JoAnn C. Murphy, said yesterday that she could not comment on a pending lawsuit. The school system's spokesman, Charles A. Herndon, also declined to comment on the case.

Vrzalik, who owns an industrial repair services business, became a substitute teacher in October 2001 after having spent 40 years coaching high school and college gymnastics and refereeing volleyball games, according to the lawsuit.

In March 2002, Vrzalik received a provisional teaching certificate and was informed that he would need to get a professional teaching certificate by June 30, 2006, to keep his job as an industrial technology teacher.

The Perry Hall resident informed the systems certification office in April 2006 that he had finished the coursework and, according to the lawsuit, Vrzalik was told that the office would contact the state education department to complete the certification process. However, the department was not informed and Vrzalik's certification was not issued, the suit states. On April 28, 2006, county school officials notified Vrzalik that his school contract was being terminated, according to the suit.

Despite several subsequent e-mails and letters that indicated Vrzalik had produced the proper documentation to become certified, he has not been rehired, according to the lawsuit.

Gina Davis

Fire Department

23 to graduate as EMTs

The Baltimore County Fire Rescue Academy's newest graduating class is made up of 23 recruits trained as emergency medical technicians.

The nine women and 14 men of the academy's 92nd recruit class trained as emergency medical technicians for 16 weeks. They will be assigned to the county's advanced life-support medic units and will serve as probationary EMTs for two years.

A graduation ceremony was scheduled for last night at Loch Raven High School.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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