The Baltimore County Board of Education has settled a lawsuit filed by the system’s chief auditor Andrea Barr, who accused board members of retaliation and unlawfully voting not to renew her employment contract.
After a two-day hearing in Baltimore County Circuit Court in July, the school system settled with Barr this month, paying her $115,000 in non-economic damages and attorney fees, according to a report from WYPR, a media partner with the The Baltimore Banner.
Court documents said both parties resolved the dispute, that the board will take no unlawful retaliatory actions against Barr, a new contract for Barr will be created and that the board will have to pay for her legal fees.
Barr’s attorney, Kathleen Cahill, said she could not comment on the case, as did Charlie Herndon, spokesperson for the school system.
Last May, the school board voted not to renew Barr’s contract, which expired in June. Six people voted for a renewal, none voted against and the rest either abstained or recused themselves from the vote. However, the vote did not pass because the board abides by a guidance that calls for seven affirmative votes for passage.
Barr argued in an appeal to the state board that the vote was unlawful and retaliatory. The contract vote came after she reported irregularities and improper expenditures in the board’s non-salary budget. And she said two board members, Kathleen Causey, whose term recently expired, and Russell Keuhn “initiated a campaign of pressure and threats to influence the work of our office in a quest to develop audit results suiting their agenda and to obscure or erase fact-based findings, including fact-based findings regarding their own conduct.”
The state board left it up to the court to decide since Barr had also sued the county school board.
Barr, who has worked in the county for 36 years, had obtained a court order that allowed her to keep working; a judge extended her contract through June 30, 2023, or until the case is complete. Attorneys representing the school board argued against the accusations. The lawyers, Eric Brousaides and Craig Meuser of Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett and Scherr, did not immediately respond to interview requests.
The order to allow Barr to keep her job was temporary. Barr and the school board’s lawyers went to court for a two-day hearing. After the hearing, Barr testified that board members made her feel like her “head was in a guillotine,” and board member Moalie Jose testified that Causey sent a man to her house threatening a lawsuit if Jose didn’t apologize for accusing Causey of racism.