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The Patrick County School Board is seeking to shorten Roger Morris’ contract by a year.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Patrick County’s embattled school superintendent is on a track to leave his post ahead of schedule, after complaints that he retaliated against teachers helping a state investigation gripped the rural community.
School board chairman Ronnie Terry said Friday that negotiations of the terms are underway. He said the decision was a mutual one of the board and superintendent Roger Morris.
The board wants to cut a year off of Morris’ contract so that he would leave the system at the end of the next school year. His recently extended contract was due to expire in 2015, Terry said.
“It’s kind of out of control with the atmosphere now,” Terry said. “The way things are going, it’s just good if we go our separate ways.”
He said the decision did not mean the board was dissatisfied with Morris’ work.
Morris declined to comment on the decision to shorten his contract.
The school board decided to negotiate Morris’ departure hours after five teachers, a parent, a high schooler’s guardian and a retired teacher joined former Attorney General Mary Sue Terry to bring their concerns about the superintendent before the state Board of Education in Richmond on Thursday.
Tensions in the school system have been rising in recent months, in part after a state Department of Education investigation found that several high school students were awarded diplomas and credits they didn’t earn.
Karen Wood, former director of instruction, told the state board that when she gave Morris evidence of improper recording of grades, he grabbed the paper, threw it on the floor and said there was nothing to it. She was transferred from her position after the state report came out.
When high school librarian Linda Maxie was transferred to a position serving several elementary schools, her school board representative told her the board had been told she and the elementary schools’ librarian had requested the change, which they had not.
English teacher Janice Largen said she was transferred as well after raising concerns about the release of teachers’ Social Security numbers and a series of management problems at the high school.
Math teacher Elizabeth Wallace said Morris directed the high school bookkeeper to transfer $3,000 from the senior class fund two years ago to pay for a class gift of a statue of cougar, although the class had not voted to spend its funds that way.
“Everyone has a right to speak before the Board of Education. Unfortunately I do not agree with most of the statements made,” Morris said.
Even before the state investigation, tempers rose last year when the school board reduced incentive payments to teachers who had retired early, and didn’t cool when it restored payments but said retirees had to work as substitutes or teachers for twice as many days.
Last year, the then-chairman of the county’s board of supervisors said the school superintendent needed to go, and the superintendent sued him for defamation, seeking $10.35 million. The case is still pending.
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