Lawsuit names Wilson personnel; Farrar seeks restitution as whistleblower


A former Wilson health teacher and coach has filed a lawsuit against DCPS, alleging that she was wrongfully put on administrative leave and investigated for staff misconduct involving a student.

The former employee, Emily Farrar, claims she was unlawfully accused of having an inappropriate relationship involving a student in retaliation for concerns she raised about cheating in the track program.

In February 2020, DCPS launched an investigation into whether Farrar had engaged in misconduct with a student. The results later determined the allegations to be false. 

Farrar filed a legal complaint in the Superior Court of DC in February 2021. The complaint seeks restitution from DCPS, as well as defendants Principal Kimberly Martin, Athletic Director Mitch Gore, and Wilson physical education/health teacher and track coach Tia Clemmons.

In the complaint, Farrar claims that the defendants colluded to raise the allegations in response to her alerting Martin and Gore of issues on the track team involving Clemmons in February of 2020. 

The defendants deny all of Farrar’s counts and a DCPS lawyer responded to her complaint with a motion to dismiss, saying she “has not pleaded enough facts to support liability against these Defendants under any theory of liability.”

In an interview with The Beacon, Farrar said “[This was] single-handedly the worst experience of my entire life.”   

As the lawsuit is still pending, Martin, Gore, and Clemmons declined to comment. The Beacon’s attempts to reach the defendants’ counsel were unsuccessful. 

In late January of 2020, Farrar approached Gore, and eventually Martin, with allegations against Clemmons about the Wilson track program.

According to Farrar’s complaint, in some track meets, Clemmons made members of the team race under the names of students who were absent. This allowed the absent students to qualify for the championship meet. The student that Farrar named, referred to as Student M in the documentation, was a student Farar was familiar with both through teaching and coaching. 

Farrar claims that, after informing Gore and Martin, she was under the impression that her cheating allegations about the Wilson track program would be investigated. 

Then, in early February, Farrar was put on administrative leave for, according to the complaint, “failure of good behavior throughout the 2019-2020 school year,” and was not permitted to contact any DCPS students or employees. 

The investigation into Farrar was prompted by misconduct allegations against Farrar involving Student M.

According to the document, in early January 2020, Student M needed to attend a college recruitment visit but his mother was unable to take him. Student M slept at Farrar’s house for a few hours that night, which the investigation concludes was with his mother’s permission. Farrar and another track coach then drove him to the college. 

Martin, another administrator, and Student M’s parent collectively raised concern about the incident leading to the investigation into Farrar.

On February 10, soon after Farrar was put on administrative leave, Principal Martin released a statement to the Wilson community explaining that there was an investigation into staff misconduct involving a student and that the staff member was placed on leave. Martin stated that she would share information on the investigation when she was permitted to do so. 

On March 13, DCPS concluded that the allegations against Farrar were unsubstantiated. DCPS found that the allegations “appear to have derived from speculation based on circumstantial information,” according to a copy of the DCPS investigation, which was included in Farrar’s complaint.

Martin did not issue a statement to the community informing them about the investigation’s findings. 

Farrar contends that the defendants orchestrated the misconduct allegation against her with the knowledge that it would result in her immediate suspension. She claims that the investigation was a violation of DC’s Whistleblower Protection Act (DCWPA). 

Under the DCWPA, supervisors are forbidden from retaliation based on “protected disclosures.” Farrar alleges that her report of dishonesty in Wilson’s track program was protected, so Martin’s email to the community was retaliatory.

However, the defendants argue that Martin was legally obligated to report the investigation to the community under a DCPS policy, Prevention of Student Sexual Abuse by Staff. They say that since Martin’s email was considered mandatory under DCPS policy, her actions cannot be considered retaliatory. 

According to Farrar, Gore also “unlawfully retaliated” against her by threatening to fire her. This was after she raised the issue of cheating and tensions between her and Clemmons escalated. The defendants’ response claims that since the two seemed unable to work together, Gore raised the possibility of removing Farrar from her coaching position.

In the lawsuit, Farrar claims that in addition to violation of the DCWPA, DCPS’s actions and statements made by the defendants resulted in defamation and significant emotional distress. 

Farrar is seeking income and benefit restorations lost during her administrative leave and investigation, an acknowledgment that DCPS violated her rights, and disciplinary action against Martin, Gore, and Clemmons.

After returning to Wilson briefly at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Farrar resigned and found employment at another DCPS school. 

 An initial scheduling conference for the case is set for June 25. •