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Patrick County Schools transfer review: Four complaints founded
Friday, August 16, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin staff writer
A review has determined that four of five complaints lodged as a result of Patrick County teacher/staff transfers were founded, the Patrick County School Board learned Thursday.
The fifth complaint still is being reviewed, officials said.
That does not mean that complaint is unfounded, according to Ronnie Terry, chairman of the Patrick County School Board. Rather, it is more complicated because it was filed by a school administrator whose position was eliminated, he added.
Dr. Karen Wood has said she had worked in the central office until her position was eliminated, and she was reassigned as part of a group of transfers approved earlier this year.
“The complaints against the superintendent (Roger Morris) were upheld,” Terry said. The four “complaints of retaliation were founded ... confirmed,” according to the report from Dr. Larry Massie, Terry said.
Massie, a retired superintendent from central Virginia, reviewed the complaints, Terry said.
Following a two and a half hour closed meeting Thursday, the school board unanimously voted to reassign six people — including the four teachers who had been transferred and filed complaints against Morris alleging retaliation. The other two were not involved in the complaints.
“All of the teachers with complaints (about their transfers) were moved back” to their original positions, Terry said.
The reassignments will take effect on Monday, according to the unanimous vote.
Last fall, complaints from school staff prompted a review by the state Department of Education (DOE) of alleged irregularities in testing, diploma administration, communication and personnel matters. As a result, the state sought improvements in professionalism among employees, more training and better communication, among other areas.
The school division put together a reorganization plan to address the state’s concerns. Included in that plan was the transfer of about 10 teachers and/or staff members, school officials have said.
After the school board approved the transfers, five employees filed complaints against Morris, according to several school officials, including Terry and Morris.
Those affected have said they believed the transfers were in “retaliation for them speaking out” to the DOE, Terry has said.
He did not know when a decision on Wood’s complaint will be made.
“We’ve got to do a little bit more investigation and” Massie wants to talk to the school board further on that case, Terry said.
The board decided to act on the four cases “because we wanted to get those teachers” and other staff members back in their original positions as soon as possible, Terry said.
Morris did not attend the meeting Thursday. Terry said he is on paid medical leave, and is not slated to return to work until Sept. 6.
As a result, “it is not wise” to continue discussions about Morris’ role in the transfers while he is on leave, Terry said.
The school board recently approved shaving a year off of Morris’ contract, pending approval by attorneys.
Terry said Thursday that decision is “not official yet.” He did not elaborate.
A full report of the investigator’s findings will be released at a later date, Terry said.