JAY — The Regional School Unit 73 board unanimously accepted the resignation of Superintendent Todd LeRoy on Thursday evening, effective immediately.

Directors were expected to appoint an interim replacement later Thursday.

More than 100 teachers, parents, students and community members attended the board meeting, some asking why the board hadn’t taken formal action since LeRoy’s decisions in late December to remove Spruce Mountain High School Principal TJ Plourde, reassign other principals and merge the middle and high schools.

LeRoy, of Madison, was hired in August to lead the district, which includes Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls.

One person asked why the brakes weren’t put on the administrative changes so students could come back to school to their own principal after Christmas break.

“When this hit us, everybody, the superintendent had just left,” board Chairwoman Denise Rodzen said. “We needed to have factual information of what took place. He returned Jan. 1. We never voted, hadn’t gone through the process that was followed when we merged the elementary schools. We needed to have the person here to pull it back. Once he was here, we met with him and he did.”

Pam Spaulding, a substitute teacher with more than 30 years experience, said she thought there was a personality conflict involved.

“A person who’s paid a lot of money went rogue, didn’t discuss it with you. Will we ever know how much we’re paying him to get rid of him? That’s coming out of our taxes. We deserve to know,” she said.

Vice Chairman Michael Morrell said there were two options the board considered. The first was the one chosen: to accept his resignation and sign a release.

He said dismissal would have been much more costly because it would have required hearings to determine if what the superintendent did was enough to terminate him. From there it goes to the commissioner of education with more legal hearings. The commissioner can decide to return the superintendent to his position or decide the board was wrong and pay the rest of his contract.

“He would be on paid administrative leave throughout, about $400 per day. That would be a more expensive burden on taxpayers,” Morrell said.

Rodzen said other options were to do nothing or keep him and put him on an action plan.

Morrell said, “I know it doesn’t sit well, doesn’t feel good. This option hurts less.”

Several people spoke of the lack of communication and the need to rebuild trust between the board and community members.

Board member Shannon McDaniel said she has lived in Livermore six years and  has never been part of  a community that is so loving, so caring, so tight-knit.

Staff learned Dec. 21 that Plourde had met with the superintendent and would no longer be the principal. That evening, middle school staff learned via an email from middle school Principal Scott Albert that he was being transferred to the primary school effective Jan. 2.

On Dec. 24, a Sun Journal article was posted online saying that Plourde was no longer employed by the district and that there was a plan to restructure the middle and high schools into one entity. Staff were not informed prior to the publication of the article.

On Dec. 26, middle and high school staff received an email from Kevin Harrington, the Spruce Mountain Primary School principal, saying that “Spruce Mountain Secondary School would begin its journey” and that late-arrival staff development time on Jan. 2 would be used “to discuss the logistics of a 6-12 facility … ”

However, on the morning of Jan. 2, LeRoy told high and middle school staff there would be no consolidation of schools, but there would no longer be middle and high school departments and staff would work as a 6-12 school with a single leader to help “heal the wounds.” Harrington was introduced as the new principal for grades 6-12.

After an emergency school board meeting Jan. 2, the superintendent said there would be no school restructuring and Plourde was merely out on administrative leave and that his employment had not yet been terminated.

On Thursday, Jan. 3, Harrington announced at a high school assembly that on Jan. 7, Plourde would return as the high school principal, Albert would return to the middle school, and Harrington would be returning to the primary school.

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