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Teacher sub says Groves High rumors led to her firing

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac – — A former substitute teacher at Birmingham Groves High claims she lost her job last December after someone fraudulently reported she threatened to blow up the school.

In her Oakland Circuit Court lawsuit filed this week, Tricia Stocco seeks damages from the Board of Education of Birmingham Public Schools; Professional Education Services Group, a former employer in western Michigan; and others for defamation and violation of the state Employee Right To Know laws because she said she has been denied access to her personnel records.

"Her story is rather Kafkaesque," said Stocco's attorney, Nicholas Roumel. "Someone supposedly made an accusation against her but no one will say who the person was that made the claim. She's not even able to defend herself and she's having a difficult time finding a full-time job.

"We've repeatedly asked for information she is entitled to have and all we get is radio silence."

Birmingham school officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Stocco, who lives in Rochester, has a bachelor of science degree in secondary education from Eastern Michigan University with certification in cognitive impairment for grades K-12 and communication and theater arts, grades 6-12.

According to the lawsuit, Stocco began working with Professional Educational Services Group, out of Caledonia, in the fall of 2012 and had been placed at school districts as a substitute teacher without incident.

On Oct. 30, 2013, Stocco was placed as a long-term substitute at Groves for an expected term through Dec. 20, 2013. But on Dec. 17 a supervisor at the school told her that because of alleged "violent text messages" her "employment ends now."

Stocco said she was immediately escorted off school premises by a security guard, had her personal belongings delivered to her car and was barred from returning to any of Birmingham's public school grounds.

On Dec. 18, she received an email and U.S. mail from Fredericka Hayes, a human resources director at PESG, that school officials had expressed concern about inappropriate and unprofessional conduct by Stocco.

"You were heard threatening to blow up Groves High School with a bomb," was the explanation she was given, according to Roumel.

"There is nothing in her character to suggest she is even capable of this," Roumel said. "She is a level-headed person who wants to teach."

Stocco repeatedly denied making any such threat and believes the source was an unknown person or person at the school who also contacted PESG with false allegations. PESG in turn informed her that she was being "inactivated from providing services at any location our behalf ... ."

The lawsuit is assigned to Oakland Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot.

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