Ousted Principal Faces Possible Legal Trouble
An attorney told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik he has evidence to suggest Dr. Ruth Baskerville was forcing teachers to report to work at Woodland Elementary Charter School on scheduled countywide furlough days.
I will be seeking for them to get paid for the days they worked,” said Jason Doss.
Doss said his client worked a total of six furlough days during the last school year because of emails Baskerville sent to her staff. Doss provided Petchenik with a few of the emails.
In one, sent on July 22, 2009 Baskerville wrote:
“I urge teachers to come here Monday, Tuesday and Friday, for whatever part of those days you need in order to be ready for not just Open House, but for our kids on August 10th….I can pay you back throughout the year with favors done for individuals and groups.”
The next day, Baskerville sent another email to staffers:
“I invite/beg/suggest that you come to get rooms ready for the year,” she wrote.
Doss said his client and others obliged because they were concerned about repercussions for not coming, including the principal not recommending contract renewal.
Teachers, categorically, are good-natured people who are hard-working who care about others and who are devoted to helping other people,” he said. ” Urging them to work on days when theyre not gonna get paid takes advantage of that good-natured behavior.”
Petchenik spoke to Baskerville by phone Tuesday. She stood behind the emails and told him she never forced anyone to do anything they didn’t want to do.
“This is frivolous,” she said. “Just frivolous.”
Baskerville said it was a common practice for teachers to come to work on their off-days to prepare for school. She said the furlough days in 2009 happened on pre-planning days leading up to the first day of school.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “We still have to be ready for our parents.”
Baskerville refuted Doss’ claims that she would retaliate against teachers who didn’t show up. She told Petchenik she didn’t have that kind of power.
Channel 2 Action News has learned Baskerville took early retirement after the school district removed her from her post because of allegations of unprofessional behavior. Petchenik obtained a copy of Baskerville’s personnel file, which included a complaint letter from Elisa Falco, a high-ranking official with the Georgia Charter Schools Association who was visiting
In it, Falco recounted an incident in which she said she witnessed Baskerville yelling at a student who had interrupted a testing session.
“I would characterize Dr. Baskerville’s manner in which she addressed this student as threatening and abusive,” Falco wrote.
Baskerville told Petchenik she knew the student and his parents very well and treated that student as if it were one of her own. Her retirement will be effective June 30.