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Former principal gets day in court on whistleblower claim

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The Highland Park school district is almost out of cash. The state is working on a solution to keep kids in school.

A former Livingston County principal is getting her day in court.

The Michigan Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Hartland school district to dismiss the case, so now the whistleblower suit is going to trial.

Tracy Sahouri says the school wrongly demoted her from principal to teacher because of several things she reported that were protected under the whistleblower act. Including, that the school asked her to improperly administer the MEAP test.

Her attorney, Tom Pabst, says the lawsuit will help other school employees know that the whistleblower act can protect them. 

“You do the right thing to protect the kids anyhow and the law will protect you as a whistleblower,” he said. “It will give you a cause of action if they act like these administrators acted and wrongfully fire a person who’s got the courage to do the right thing.”

An attorney for the school district says Sahouri’s contract as principal was not renewed because she committed misconduct in the administration of the MEAP test, not the school. Sahouri still works for the district, but she is now a teacher.

But Pabst said the school district used Sahouri as a scapegoat. If the case goes to trial, he said, “I think they’re gonna clobber the school district for what they did to Tracy. And they should – she did the right thing and they punished her for it.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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