City principal removed over hiring practices

A Baltimore elementary school principal has been placed on administrative leave without pay after an investigation revealed she used the school's budget to hire siblings and a contractor she had a personal relationship with, according to the president of the administrators' union.

Erma Jefferson, the principal of John Eager Howard Elementary School, was removed from the West Baltimore school Monday after serving as its leader for at least 10 years, said Jimmy Gittings, president of the administrators union.

Gittings said the administrators' union would provide legal counsel for the principal to fight the accusations.

Attempts to reach Jefferson were unsuccessful Tuesday. The school system declined to comment on her removal, citing restrictions on discussing personnel matters.

Gittings said that although an investigation was done by city school officials, he believed the allegations that Jefferson used the school's funds to hire family and personal friends would be unfounded. He did not know what positions Jefferson allegedly hired them for.

"You have one side of the story — the management side," Gittings said. "And you don't have her side of the story yet. That's why I thought it was very important to supply an attorney."

According to the school system's hiring and nepotism policy, members of an employee's immediate family can be considered for employment, if they meet all of the qualifications for the position. The policy also requires that all hired family members be reported to the school system.

The policy also stipulates that "under no circumstances may one member of an immediate family hire, directly supervise, promote, evaluate, or discipline another member of an immediate family, nor shall two members of an immediate family be assigned to the same school or office/administrative unit."

The policy also says that if two employees become involved in a relationship, one should be reassigned.

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