Wallingford assistant principal criticizes his treatment in email

WALLINGFORD — An assistant principal at Sheehan High School who was placed on administrative leave for two days in June sent an email to central office staff and a union official strongly criticizing the administration and other staff for what he said were “indiscreet, humiliating, and inappropriate communications” within the school.

“Please understand that I am deeply concerned by what I believe to be outrageous behavior directed towards me that is completely inappropriate,” Sheehan Assistant Principal James Francese wrote in the June 25 email. “I fail to understand the double standard that can exist when I am criticized for inappropriate dealings with staff, while my own supervisors mishandle and humiliate me on a routine basis.”

Francese has been an assistant principal at Sheehan since 2004 after transferring from Lyman Hall High School. On June 4, he signed a contract to continue serving as assistant principal from July 1 to June 30, 2015. His salary is $133,862.

The Record-Journal obtained Francese’s email and other documents through a Freedom of Information request. Francese could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Francese sent the email to School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo and Educational Administrators’ Association of Wallingford representative Todd Snyder a day after he returned from paid administrative leave.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Menzo said he couldn’t comment on the situation because it was a “matter of personnel,” but added the school system works “to develop a positive relationship with the staff, which we continue to do and we’ll continue to do so.”

Francese was placed on paid leave June 20 until the central office could “conclude our personnel investigation,” according to a letter in his personnel file from Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Colin McNamara.

Administrators were investigating a teacher’s allegation that Francese “made inappropriate comments during that teacher’s end of the year summative evaluative conference,” according to a June 24 letter in his personnel file from Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Shawn Parkhurst. Administrators concluded the investigation, the letter states, “unable to substantiate that any specific inappropriate comment was made.”

In his email to the central office, Francese claimed the investigation wasn’t handled properly or fairly. McNamara told the teacher, Nancy Houston, Francese would never be her evaluator “prior to even speaking to (Francese),” according to his email.

McNamara could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Francese also met with McNamara on June 16, regarding another email the assistant principal sent to teachers. In the email sent June 11, Francese singled out a teacher for not taking precautions to prevent student cheating on exams.

“I need to meet with you on Monday (June 16) regarding the email...,” McNamara wrote. “... You are welcome to bring union representation to the meeting.”

In Francese’s email to the central office, he also addressed a rumor that he was suspended for 10 days and unlikely to return, which he said he believes was spread by Principal Rosemary Duthie. In his email, Francese writes that Duthie told his secretary Francese was placed on paid administrative leave.

“I believe we now know where the ‘leak’ that started all the humiliating rumors ... about me came from,” he wrote, “although admittedly, we can’t prove it.”

Duthie could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Francese let Duthie know about his absence so it wouldn’t impact the high school students, according to the email.

“The thanks I get for placing students above my own situation is that I am humiliated by such inappropriate communication — communication for which I would have been disciplined,” the email states.

Menzo’s responded to Francese’s email, stating he’d “prefer not to have communications through email.” He added that he wouldn’t communicate with Francese’s attorney and “will continue to work with your union.”

Snyder, the union representative, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Sheehan’s other assistant principal, David Kimball made a request to transfer and announced he was moving to Lyman Hall to fill the vacancy left by Cindy Lavalette, who was promoted to assistant superintendent for personnel.

When asked if Francese made a similar request, Menzo said he couldn’t answer.

evo@record-journal.com (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ



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