Wednesday, November 4, 2009

School Superintendent Admitted to Romance with Elementary Principal

A Mountain View Whisman School district superintendent admitted to having romantic relations with a district principal.

Maurice Ghysels did not disclose though, how long his relationship with Carmen Mizell has been going on, claiming that it’s “a personal matter.”

Carmen Mizell is the principal of Edith Landels Elementary.Both Ghysels and Mizell are going through divorces with their current spouses.

They informed the school board last July; Ghysels through a phone call and Mizell thorugh a letter.

The board then discussed the implications of the relationship including possible conflicts of interest.

The district’s action was to change the administrative structure by removing Mizell under the direct supervision of Ghysels. Her new supervisor would be Superintendent Mary Lairon, who incidentally is reporting directly to Ghysels.

There is no policy concerning personal relationships but the board admitted to at least avoiding it in practice.

Here is an example of what we can use to differentiate sexual harassment from sexual misconduct.

There is no basis for a sexual harassment in this case since Ghysels never created a hostile working environment and Mizell never claimed to have received unwelcome sexual acts.

However, since Ghysels engaged in a sexual relationship with a subordinate, there may be cause for sexual misconduct.

Sexual misconduct though is not illegal in nature, but it is often against professional codes of ethics.

If the board had a policy for this, then it could have caused him his job.

But since the board admitted that there is none, they will just have to be content in frowning upon the act and make moves to avoid conflict of interests.

Otherwise, if they fire Ghysels, it may be a cause for a wrongful termination lawsuit.