Grosse Pointe educator, district spar over transfer
A former Grosse Pointe South assistant principal is accusing the district of transferring her to another school in retaliation for complaints about her supervisor’s conduct, including an alleged comment about sex.
Debra Redlin claims she was threatened with termination and transferred to Parcells Middle School in August 2015 after a year of escalating issues with South High School principal Moussa Hamka, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Detroit.
Hamka’s alleged comment was listed among 39 “inappropriate behavior and comments” submitted by Redlin on Dec. 9, 2014, to Jon Dean, the district’s deputy superintendent for educational services. She claims her complaints prompted the administration to transfer her to another school, decline to renew her contract after this year and to dole out low performance reviews that have prevented her from finding employment.
Redlin’s attorney, Robert Palmer, declined to provide the list to The Detroit News.
“Among various complaints regarding Mr. Hamka’s inappropriate behavior, (Redlin) reported that Mr. Hamka would comment about cleaning himself before praying and note that one should clean themselves ‘just as you do when you would be intimate with your wife,’” Palmer wrote in a complaint filed Nov. 15 of last year. “(Redlin) also reported that based on Mr. Hamka’s behavior toward her, both (she) and her peers felt that Mr. Hamka did not like Plaintiff ‘because she was a woman.’”
Hamka also allegedly commented on Redlin’s clothing, saying she was dressed unprofessionally.
“If I was going to sum it up, I would say this is a woman who’s done a great job and tried to do the right thing, and unfortunately has come up against an administration that has treated her poorly and tried to force her out,” Palmer said. “They’ve kind of taken their hands off her recently, but of course she’s still getting less pay and less prestige” in her middle school position.
District attorneys alleged in a December court filing that Redlin was transferred to Parcells because her “misconduct had irreparably fractured the relationship between herself and her immediate supervisor, Mr. Hamka.”
The lawsuit filed in November names Grosse Pointe’s school district. Hamka is not named as a defendant and said he was unable to comment on the pending litigation. Dean, also not listed in the suit, did not return calls for comment.
“The district has denied in its answer to the lawsuit each of the claims the employee has made,” Superintendent Gary Niehaus said in a statement. “After the employee’s charges surfaced, but before the lawsuit was filed, the district carefully and diligently investigated the employee’s claims, and concluded they lacked merit. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, before whom the employee filed a charge, likewise decided not to pursue any action against the district.”
Redlin came under fire for telling a female teacher that Terry Flint, an assistant principal at South High School, admitted to being “especially hard” on the teacher during an evaluation, according to her attorney. The district denied in its court filing that Flint ever disclosed his method of evaluation.
Redlin was reprimanded again the next year for failing to officially report rumors that a different teacher was seen in a private meeting with Hamka, allegedly sitting on his desk in an inappropriate manner. Redlin instead told Flint after hearing about the alleged encounter from another educator at the school.
The district accused Redlin of actively “spreading rumors” about Hamka and the unnamed teacher.