Wake County News

Former Montessori school employee says she was fired for cooperating with police

A former Montessori School of Raleigh employee has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school and its head, Nancy Erichetti. She said she was fired for cooperating with detectives.

The former children’s house directress, Janie Jackson, is suing the Montessori school and the school’s head. She claims they fired her for cooperating with the Raleigh Police Department’s investigation into a former middle school teacher accused of sexual abuse with students.

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“In every child abuse investigation, we encourage people to cooperate with police,” said Jackson’s attorney, Robbie Jessup. “We encourage people to tell the police what we know. Ms. Jackson did exactly what we encourage people to do and we’re saddened that she was terminated after speaking to the police.”

Authorities arrested Nicholas Conlon Smith for child pornography and statutory rape in relation to his relationship with his former students. Jessup said Jackson shared information with police that Smith had drank alcohol with middle school students at a bar.

She also told them Smith had acted inappropriately with Jackson's own daughter, and that school administrators were aware of Smith’s inappropriate behavior.

“Ms. Jackson reported to the police department that Nancy Erichetti, the head of school there, covered her ears and said, ‘I don’t wanna hear this,’ when she was being told about Nick Smith consuming alcohol with middle school students,” Jessup said.

Police arrested Nancy Erichetti for aiding and abetting Smith’s alleged crimes. Jessup said Jackson had been employed at the school for nine years. Jessup said Jackson was fired six days after the school became aware Jackson spoke to police.

“As far as I know, the school has never offered any reason as to why the school terminated Ms. Jackson,” Jessup said. “We’d be interested to know whatever reason the schools claiming.”

The chair of the school’s board of trustees Joe Lee sent CBS 17 a statement. It reads in part, “This complaint has no merit. Ms. Jackson was not terminated. Her contract was ending and was simply not renewed. Ms. Jackson’s lawsuit wrongly attempts to tie her employment status to a tragic and unrelated event in our school’s history.”

Lee went on to say the decision to not renew Jackson’s contract had nothing to do with her cooperation with police and they’ve encouraged everyone to speak with law enforcement.


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