Lawsuit claims bad publicity over viral video led to CMS worker’s firing

Harding University High School
Harding University High School Charlotte Observer file photo

A former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employee contends in a lawsuit that she was unjustly fired after school officials blamed her for an attack by four students in which she said she suffered a concussion.

Student video of the June 2016 attack went viral, Inez Albright says in her lawsuit, filed Friday in Superior Court. She said Harding University High School administrators blamed her for the assault “in a public relations effort to blunt the negative fallout from the video.”

Principal Eric Ward instructed the school’s resource officer to go to Albright’s home the morning after the incident and arrest her on assault charges, according to the lawsuit. The resource officer instead told Albright he had contacted his supervisor, who watched security camera video and concluded that Albright assaulted no one, the lawsuit says.

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office eventually reviewed the video and cleared Albright of any wrongdoing, according to the lawsuit. Authorities issued arrest warrants for four students accused of assaulting Albright, Observer news partner WBTV reported at the time.

“Seeking criminal charges and then terminating her, all to make her a scapegoat for the embarrassing, violent conduct by some CMS students, were not legitimate business justifications” for her firing, the lawsuit filed by Charlotte lawyer Luke Largess contends.

Albright also says she was fired for complaining about slack security at the school that left her without help when she tried to disperse a crowd of students preparing to fight that day.

Efforts by the Observer to reach Ward and CMS spokespersons were unsuccessful Friday.

Albright is seeking her job back as a behavior modification technician, assisting school staff with discipline issues, or at least a comparable position. She also wants compensation for lost earnings and benefits and a ruling by the court that the actions by schools administrators and CMS were illegal.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak