Former teacher sues D.C. mayor and the public school chancellor for defamation

After the Washington D.C. public schools chancellor said to the media that she got rid of teachers who hit students and had sex with children in reducing the teaching force, she was sued by a teacher who claimed those statements defamed him. -db

Courthouse News Service
March 8, 2010
By Ryan Abbott

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CN) – A teacher says District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee defamed him in an effort to discredit teachers who lost their jobs to the district’s reduction in force. Rhee told “Fast Company,” a national magazine: “I got rid of teachers who hit children, who had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school, why wouldn’t we take those things into consideration?” says the former teacher, who did none of those things.

Ronnie Jones, who lost his job in the reduction in force, says Rhee’s comments to the magazine were just a ploy to justify the district’s wrongful firing of hundreds of city teachers, which has prompted fierce public outcry.

Jones says co-defendant Mayor Adrian Fenty seconded up Rhee’s defamatory comments, and “reiterated that she was doing a great job and was in fact the premier superintendent in the country.”

Jones seeks damages for defamation, false light and infliction of emotional distress. He says his reputation as a teacher has been ruined and he has suffered irreparable injury. He wants $20 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages.

The offensive article was in the magazine’s Feb. 1 issue, Jones says.

He is represented in Superior Court by Gregory Lattimer.

Copyright 2010 Courthouse News Service