Former Hartland Principal Suing School District
Tracey Sahouri has filed a lawsuit against Hartland Schools.
Former Creekside Elementary School principal Tracey Sahouri filed a lawsuit against Hartland Schools in the Genesee County Circuit Court seeking damages that “far exceed $100,000,” according to a report from the Press & Argus.
On March 26, the Hartland school board voted 6-0 for the non-renewal of Sahouri’s administrative contract. Sahouri, who is currently a vice-principal at Hartland High School, was transferred in November after allegations that she mishandled the MEAP test during her time at Creekside.
In the lawsuit, which was filed on April 9, Sahouri is suing the school district for slander and libel, invasion of privacy and gross negligence and claiming the district "spoon-fed" information to the press with a "reckless disregard of the truth,” according to the Press & Argus. The suit also alleges that the school system violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by not renewing her administrative contract.
A press release by superintendent Janet Sifferman released on Monday addressed Sahouri's lawsuit by saying:
"It appears this lawsuit is in response to the nonrenewal of Ms. Sahouri's administrative contract," the statement reads. "It is unfortunate that it has come to this. On the advice of the district's attorney, the district has followed the required procedures necessary, as outlined by the state of Michigan, for a nonrenewal of an administrative contract."
During the March 26 school board meeting, school board president Kevin Kaszyca explained that the motives behind the school board’s decision to not re-new Sahouri’s contract were based on results from the MEAP test investigation that was conducted by Superintendent Janet Sifferman and Assistant Superintendent Scott Van Epps and were unrelated to the underage drinking allegations that Sahouri faced last summer. Charges in that case were dropped in December.
“I also want to clarify for any of you that have read the state report and our own summary of our investigation, that this is not ... just about opening some test pamphlets and having them in an unsecured room," Kaszyca said.
"Our administrators are held to the highest standard," Kaszyca continued. "Leadership, trust, honesty, you cannot be an administrator in this district if you do not have those qualities. This board has never shied away from tough decisions."
Over the past months, Patch readers have either vocalized their support or non-support for Sahouri on the comment section and when news of Sahouri’s lawsuit was posted in Hartland Patch’s Facebook page yesterday, several readers commented on the latest development.
“Unbelievable,” Patch reader Kathleen Helppi wrote. “My thought is if she truly wanted to do what's right for students she'd let it rest and let the administration do their job not spend their time on this matter any longer.”
Hartland parent Michele Gonzalez however, disagreed with the board’s decision of non-renewal leaving this comment on the March 27 story.
“Even IF Ms. Sahouri did handle the test improperly, termination of her position is an EXTREME disciplinary action and completely out of line,” Gonzalez wrote. “Maybe a written reprimand would be the most that I would see in this situation. To have her removed was a vengeful action from Sifferman. Sifferman used her political talents to gain what she wanted... Sahouri gone.”
Sahouri is also involved in another lawsuit involving the Argentine Township and Police Officer Arch Ravert which she filed in January which is related to the underage drinking charges from this past summer.
During the 2012-2013 school year, Sahouri will be placed as a teacher within Hartland Schools and maintain her current salary until the end of her contract in 2013.
"But my love will still remain with the children," Sahouri said after the March 26 vote. "I'll continue to be an assistant principal at the high school until the end of the year and give it my all."