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"venter continues to protest firing in court" by jennifer broadwater

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  • Allen Dyer
    Howard County Times ... From: NewsDelivery@mywebpal.com To: aldyer@lawlab.com Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2007 9:51 AM Subject: News Story From allen dyer and
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      Howard County Times
       
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      Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2007 9:51 AM
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      Howard County Times
        November 10, 2007   

       
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      Coleman-8-23-07

      Venter continues to contest firing in court

      11/08/07
      By Jennifer Broadwater


      Email this story to a friend

        A former high-ranking employee of the Howard County school system has appealed his 2003 firing to Maryland's second highest court.

        The schools' former chief business officer, Bruce Venter, said he was wrongfully terminated by former Howard Superintendent John O'Rourke in September 2003.

        According to a brief submitted by school officials to the Court of Special Appeals, O'Rourke's decision to fire Venter was based on Venter's failure to alert O'Rourke and the Board of Education to potential delays in the construction and opening of Marriotts Ridge High School.

        Following his dismissal, Venter asked the Howard school board to nullify his firing and reinstate him so that he could negotiate a severance package.

        After the Howard and Maryland school boards upheld his firing, Venter filed an appeal in Howard County Circuit Court in 2005.

        Judge Louis Becker denied Venter's appeal, leading Venter to take his case to the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland's second highest court.

        Authority to fire at issue

        On Nov. 2, a three-judge panel heard oral arguments by Venter's attorney and one representing the school system.

        Venter's attorney, Allen Dyer, argued that O'Rourke did not have the authority to fire Venter because Venter was appointed by the school board.

        "We are here for a purely legal issue and that is whether a superintendent of schools can dismiss an employee appointed by the Board of Education," Dyer told the three-judge panel.

        Schools' attorney Judith Bresler said O'Rourke was within his right to fire Venter, because Venter did not hold state certification, which his job did not require.

        State law governs the manner in which "certificated" employees are terminated, but the law "is otherwise silent on the procedure to apply to non-certificated employees," Bresler told the judges.

        Upon hiring Venter, O'Rourke presented Venter to the board for their "blessing" although he was not required to do so, Bresler added.

        When contacted by telephone this week, Venter declined to comment on the appeal other than to say, "We'll have to see what happens."

        Venter, who said he is retired, lives in Virginia and gives tours of Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields, he said.

        The judges have yet to issue an opinion on the matter.

        E-mail Jennifer Broadwater at Jennifer Broadwater@...

         

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