Former Male High principal David Mike sues JCPS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Nearly a year after he was fired, former Louisville Male High School principal David Mike has filed a wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit against Jefferson County Public Schools and three district staff members.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Jefferson Circuit Court against the district, Superintendent Donna Hargens and two Male High School staffers -- assistant principal Todd Barber and teacher Joshua Poore -- seeks a jury trial, attorney's fees and compensatory and punitive damages.
Mike was fired in October 2014 for "conduct unbecoming of a teacher." He received his termination letter nearly a year after testing improprieties involving the ACT Compass Test were first alleged at Male High. The letter said Mike did not create a proper testing environment and that he told a teacher to destroy documents.
In the lawsuit, Mike states that Barber and Poore conspired to spread lies about Mike's actions administering the ACT Compass Test in the fall of 2013. Mike says that Poore and Barber had retaliated against him for overstaffing their positions in May 2014.
During his testimony at a December 2014 state tribunal hearing, Mike testified that he did not help students cheat on the ACT Compass test. JCPS officials never accused him of helping students cheat, but stated that as principal of the school, he should have been aware of what was going on.
The three-person tribunal said they got the sense that Mike was trying to gain praise by quickly raising test scores at Male. They recognized that Mike was trying to make "great changes" at the school, but ended up dividing the school and lowering its image.
"The entire campaign was orchestrated by Barber and Poore, whom Mike had attempted to overstaff," William Walsh, Mike's attorney, told WDRB News on Monday.
A JCPS investigation released in July 2014 shows that the district was unable to substantiate allegations he bullied students and teachers.
Poore and Barber told JCPS investigators that in April or May 2014 – after news of the overstaffing got around the school – several students brought them written statements alleging cheating on the Compass test. The statements collected by Barber were used in the Kentucky Department of Education's investigation, according to the JCPS report.
Walsh released the following statement explaining why the lawsuit was filed:
"We have filed this action to redress the wrong done to my client, David Mike last year at Male HS by both staff there and by the Jefferson County Public School District. David was subjected to a conspiracy to drive him from the career to which he had dedicated his life, and the District failed to support him, and effectively confirmed the falsehoods that were maliciously fostered against him by wrongfully discharging him. It was necessary to do what we have done to try to obtain redress for the injuries inflicted upon David, and to try to change how the District is treating many of its best servants. We hope that those who are interested in this matter will seek to know all the facts, and we are confident that if they do they will come to understand the justice of David’s case."
A JCPS spokeswoman said the district does not comment on pending lawsuits.
Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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