HUDSON–City School District Board of Education Vice President Elizabeth Fout resigned unexpectedly at the January 14 public meeting, following a private discussion by board members that lasted more than an hour.
The board is involved in an ongoing controversy surrounding last year’s sexual harassment allegations against High School Principal Thomas Gavin, who has been on paid leave for since early October 2012 for alleged misconduct toward Superintendent Maria Suttmeier. The board has not made any public statement regarding its course of action in the wake of the accusations.
Ms. Fout, shortly after board members returned to open session, said that following the closed-door meeting she could no longer be a part of the Board of Education, but could not comment on the details of her reasons for leaving. Her term was not set to expire until June 2014.
District Tutor Alice Hoffman, without directly using Mr. Gavin’s name, as per board of education policy, asked the board why questions regarding Mr. Gavin have not been answered. She said that while she understood the confidentiality concerns in the investigation, information such as whether he is allowed in the high school building is a safety concern and should be known by the staff.
Board President Peter Merante said the issue is a personnel matter, which cannot be discussed publicly.
Following his forced leave, Mr. Gavin filed a lawsuit against the district, claiming that the allegations against him were false and that his placement on leave was improper, because the Board of Education never took a vote on it. Mr. Gavin also said that an investigator hired through Questar III BOCES found no basis for the allegations.
In the days following the lawsuit, the Board of Education moved to appoint Mr. Gavin to a temporary position at Questar III BOCES, without details or a job description.
According to November 26 meeting minutes, in its last public business of that evening the board voted 4-1 to spend $5,000 on a district computer audit, but have not released details about the reasons for the audit or who will conduct it.