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Foley resigns: Superintendent discusses settlement and future decisions
By Kim Becker
Dr. Mark Foley, former principal of the Granby Memorial Middle School, resigned earlier this month after allegations in the Hartford Courant 0n 0amed him as a part owner of a film company that produced several “slasher” films.
After almost two months of investigation and negotiation with Foley, a separation agreement was reached between Foley and the District. Dr. Alan Addley, Superintendent of Granby Public Schools, in an email to parents announcing the resignation reiterated that Foley had done nothing illegal and that students were not involved with the films or Foley’s production company. He continued to praise Foley’s job performance while acknowledging that the uproar “distracted” from the school’s mission.
The agreement allows Foley, who is not tenured, to receive his salary and benefits through the end of the 2014–15 school year without “any further professional responsibilities.” If during that time he is employed as an educator by another board of education, he will notify the Granby Board of Education and his Granby salary will be reduced by the amount paid by the other position. He will receive no other compensation or benefits after June 30, 2015.
In addition, Addley agreed to provide Foley with a positive reference for further employment in the education field. Foley has agreed not to sue the District and has returned all proprietary information. Though not in the agreement, Addley made clear to The Drummer he has no intention of seeking or participating in any effort to rescind Foley’s administrator’s license. In fact, Addley is unaware of any State of Connecticut investigation into the incident.
At press time, attorneys from Shipman and Goodwin had not yet billed the District for their services in this matter. Addley declined to estimate the legal expense for the investigation or separation agreement negotiations. He acknowledged that “legal services” are a substantial line item in the budget. Generally that $55,000 is used for special education, expulsion, and other student issues as well as contractual negotiations and employee issues. Insurance does not cover negotiations, only litigation so the District will pay for the legal advice needed in this situation.
Addley has promised that the question of leadership at the middle school will be resolved by Dec. 1. He plans to install an interim principal who likely won’t be a candidate for the permanent position — perhaps someone recently retired. While he praised the job Tim Cunningham has done under difficult circumstances, he prefers Cunningham to focus on his duties as the 8th grade guidance counselor and student services coordinator. If Addley cannot find a suitable temporary principal, Bob Gilbert, formerly principal at Kelly Lane Intermediate School and currently director of teaching and talent development, will be appointed to the job. However, that would leave a large hole in the efforts of Central Services to keep pace with changes in the education field and statutory requirements. Addley repeatedly stated that “the kids’ needs take priority,” a sentiment echoed by the Granby Educators Association in a written statement. “While it is most unfortunate that the situation at Granby Memorial Middle School occurred, we would like to thank the entire GMMS staff for continuing to focus on what matters - our students. Their professionalism has meant a great deal during this time.”
If Gilbert were to take the job until the end of the school year, he would remain at his current salary and the shift would have no budgetary impact as some of his Central Office responsibilities would be managed by other administrators.
Addley hopes to start the search for the permanent principal in January. A selection committee consisting of 12 people, including certified and support staff members, an administrator, and parents recommended by the middle school PAC and administration, will be formed to kick off the process.
At this point, Addley sees no changes to the hiring process. He might ask some “different questions” but was unsure what those questions would be. He doesn’t anticipate any changes to the administrators’ contract as all school administrators are bound by the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators, nor will he seek to bring additional background checks, such as a credit check, into the process.