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Howard teacher files third lawsuit against school district

A Howard County high school teacher who successfully sued the school system for race discrimination several years ago filed a third lawsuit against the system Sept. 24 in a bid to address matters not covered in a pending lawsuit that alleges retaliation.

"The [Sept. 24] lawsuit was filed to reserve my right to be able to file suits at a later date," said Michelle Maupin, who in July 2007 was awarded more than $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages by a jury in a racial discrimination suit she filed while teaching at Centennial High School in Ellicott City.

She was transferred to Wilde Lake High School, where she was placed on administrative leave in September 2008. In the second lawsuit, she alleges that the action was taken by school officials in retaliation for her having won the discrimination lawsuit.

Maupin is representing herself in the lawsuit filed Sept. 24 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. It names the Howard County school system, Board of Education and schools Superintendent Sydney Cousin as defendants.

Maupin said in a phone interview Monday that "legal wrangling" prevented issues from being filed in the second lawsuit, namely, she said, matters regarding being placed on administrative leave, allegedly without reason. Her filing, she said, allows her matters against the Board of Education to move forward without facing a statute of limitations expiration.

"The main issue is that the Howard County Board of Education has a practice and a pattern of violating the civil rights of its teachers," Maupin said. "That's the issue that I have. There are matters that can be rectified by simply having school systems not abuse and bully its teachers."

Howard County schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan said Thursday, "The most that we can say is that this is the third lawsuit that she has filed against the school system and parties of the school system." She declined to comment further because of a related appeal before the Board of Education.

A trial date has not been set for either of the pending lawsuits.

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