GW counselor says principal, school board spread false info about her

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 28, 2015

CHARLESTON – A counselor at George Washington High School says the principal has pushed her to retire and spread false information about her.

Mary “Kackie” Eller filed her lawsuit Aug. 14 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the Kanawha County Board of Education and GW Principal George Aulenbacher.

In her complaint, the 73-year-old Eller says she has worked for the school board since 1965 except for a nine-year period when she stayed home to raise her children. She says she has been at GW for the last 30 years.

At her first meeting with Aulenbacher in 2010 when he became principal, he asked her, “When are you retiring?” She said he’s asked her that other times since then.

He also has introduced Eller by saying, “She taught George Washington.”

Eller also claims she was wrongfully suspended in February, but she returned to work in March. Upon her return to work, Aulenbacher introduced her to an audience as “a vintage counselor.”

Eller says the reasons for her suspension still are unclear, but that her attorney Jim Cagle worked with school board lawyers to allow her to return to work with limitations “pending the completion of the allegations of irregularities in her dealing with student information.” Eller contends there were no genuine allegations and no real investigations. She also says she was assigned an office near the principal rather than in the counseling wing.

The complaint also says Aulenbacher wrote an email on March 9 titled “Kackie Eller Senior Counseling Issues,” which was circulated to people “who clearly had no reason and no right to the information about the plaintiff and students contained therein which was both false and private.”

She says the information, which also included student names and private information about them, was circulated among parents and students because of Aulenbacher’s gross negligence.

Eller accuses the school board the Aulenbacher of defamation, injuring her professional reputation by saying she hurt the chances of 11 named students from graduating. She also accuses the defendants of false light invasion of privacy as well as violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

She seeks joint and several compensatory damages, special damages and punitive damages. She also seeks attorney fees, court costs and other relief as well as injunctive relief to prevent further violations of the state Human Rights Act.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 15-C-1544

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