IT'S SAFE TO SAY that schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has plenty on his plate these days.
School closings. Doomsday budgets. District layoffs that never seem to end.
Meanwhile, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, a Maryland woman hopes Hite can clear his calendar for one minute so he can be served with legal papers.
Carol Barbour, 44, of Upper Marlboro, Md., is slapping Hite, 51, with a second federal lawsuit, accusing him of defamation and other charges. The claims stem from a federal lawsuit Barbour filed in March 2012 against Hite and his previous employer, Prince George's County Public Schools, alleging racial and age discrimination as well as retaliation.
Barbour, who is Latina, worked for Prince George's County schools as an assistant principal and principal from 2002 to 2005. She claims to have applied for more than 20 jobs there since 2008. Hite worked for Prince George's County schools from 2009 until 2012, when he came to Philly.
It was during the proceedings in the first case that Hite, who "had agreed, then unagreed" to answer email questions from Barbour's attorney, Richard Patrick, signed a sworn statement that is the basis of the most recent lawsuit, said Patrick, of Fairfax, Va.
In the affidavit signed March 28 by Hite, the superintendent acknowledges that he knows Peter Gorman, the head of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, where Barbour once worked, and is also named in the suit.
Hite stated he called Gorman for a reference and Gorman "specifically said that Ms. Barbour was 'one of the worst principals he had ever been associated with' and he said she was 'terrible.' "
Gorman's negative reference prompted Hite to instruct the Prince George's County human-resources chief to remove Barbour's name from "any list of candidates for positions to ensure that she was not hired," according to the affidavit.
Hite said he had no idea Barbour was Latina.
"We were baffled," Patrick said yesterday. "We did not know until his affidavit that that was why Ms. Barbour did not get any job at Prince George's County."
Barbour's evaluations from Charlotte-Mecklenburg, filed in the first lawsuit, show that Barbour received a "proficient" rating in her only year as principal of Winget Park Elementary School. The evaluation was signed by Elva Cooper. She was eligible for rehire by the North Carolina district, according to notations made on the school's letter accepting her resignation.
"You really don't know why it was said," Patrick said, referring to Hite's remark. "The second lawsuit is going to find out."
Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard referred comment to Hite's Maryland attorney, Robert Baror. Phone calls to Baror were not returned.
In related news, a $100 million federal lawsuit alleging racial and sex discrimination by Hite and the Prince George's County School Board that was filed in November by the principals' and administrators' union was withdrawn by the group in April.
Doris Reed, director of the Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel, said last week that she and Prince George's officials are working to get their members, who were part of the class-action suit, back to work.