"Plaintiff Blues"
Conflict Continues

The article below appeared on the front page of the Feb 21st, 2008 edition of the Cook News Herald.

February 21, 2008

Former St. Louis County Schools Superintendent Langan hired by Ely

Don Langan, who has been superintendent of schools for the Cook County Schools, the Mesabi East Schools, the St. Louis County Schools and currently is the superintendent for International Falls Schools, was hired last week as superintendent at the Ely School District.
Langan, who lives in Babbitt and whose wife is a teacher at Babbitt-Embarrass, was one of three finalists for the position. The Ely board decided they couldn't afford a full-time superintendent, so hired Langan as a part-time one. He will also remain as superintendent at International Falls.
Langan's tenure with the St. Louis County Schools ended in 2004. The Ely board noted he had been sued by one time St. Louis County Schools principal Judy Pearson while County Schools superintendent, but that lawsuit was dismissed. Pearson was given her job as principal in the County Schools after another of her lawsuits. The Ely board hired Langan after checking into his background. The vote was unanimous for Langan. It is noted that he never had to file a lawsuit to get a job, he got them on his merits.
Langan faces some big challenges at Ely, including whether or not to build a new school at a cost of $18 to $20 million.

Here's my response - my first ever "Letter to the Editor".

To The Editor,

Although I usually refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, it's time to set the record straight. Fiction, half-truth, innuendo, and editorializing masquerading as news reporting dominated a front-page news article in the Cook News Herald on February 21, 2008. The headline read, "Former St. Louis County Schools Superintendent Langan hired by Ely."
Fiction: "Langan's tenure with the St. Louis County Schools ended in 2004."
Fact: What's not included here is the problem. Langan's tenure with St. Louis County Schools did not simply "end" under the usual and customary circumstances. It ended abruptly on April 12, 2004, when the Board (following a closed meeting with the school attorney) summarily placed him on a leave of absence, effective April 13, 2004 - the very next day!
At this point, the Cook News Herald writer chose to drag me into what was otherwise a brief news article on Langan. Why now - after all these years? And who is the writer anyway? My suspicion is that the editor just finished reading my book.
Fiction: "Pearson was given her job as principal in the County Schools after another of her lawsuits."
Fact: "given" hardly describes the 6 years I spent as a plaintiff in a Federal lawsuit on discrimination over the 1986 Cook principal position. That lawsuit ultimately resulted in the unanimous jury verdict that there had been a conspiracy to discriminate against me. The Judge wrote, "It is undisputed that plaintiff established a prima facie case of discrimination. Defendant ISD 710 did assert several non-discriminatory reasons for its decision not to hire her. Plaintiff, however, successfully refuted these reasons and demonstrated that they were a pretext for sex discrimination." Accordingly, the Judge "ordered" the district to hire me for the next available principal position!
This was quite different than having been "given" my job!
"If you had been a man, you'd have had the job," I was told by the Cook News Herald editor in 1986. He was a member of the local Cook committee that interviewed candidates for the principal's position and one of the original lawsuit defendants. Those 6 years, between hearing that in 1986 and being hired as principal for the Orr School in 1992, are thoroughly described and documented in my book Plaintiff Blues, chapters 3-5. Check it out at www.plaintiffblues.com.
Fiction: "It is noted that he (Langan) never had to file a lawsuit to get a job, he got them on his merits."
"It is noted" - by whom? Hard to tell because this article has no byline. Is this reporting or editorializing?
Fact: What exactly are Langan's "merits?" His tumultuous and troubled tenure as St. Louis County Schools Superintendent and its abrupt termination are described and well-documented on pages 357-378 in Plaintiff Blues.
One Final Fact: Every small town seems to have a gathering spot for morning coffee and general chitchat. On Saturday, February 23, 2008, the usual group of men gathered at the Montana Cafe in Cook for their morning coffee. When challenged about the cheap shots taken at me in the current article, the same editor of the Cook News Herald responded angrily, "That Bitch!"
That expletive sums up the bias in the article and the general lack of professionalism in the Cook News Herald.

Judith Pearson
9129 Hibbing Point Road
Cook, MN 55723


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