Sheehan’s new assistant principal receives $51,000 raise; Francese keeps $133K salary

WALLINGFORD — Although James Francese will no longer be the assistant principal at Sheehan High School, he will still receive a $133,862 salary in his new post as a curriculum coordinator. Greg Dirkson, who was appointed Sheehan’s new assistant principal, will receive a raise of just over $51,000.

The changes were made at a special Board of Education meeting Thursday and supported by Chairwoman Roxane McKay, Vice Chairman Joe Marrone, members Chris Shortell, Kathy Castelli and Karen Hlavac. Board members Jay Cei, Michael Brooder, Chet Miller and Michael Votto were absent.

Before his promotion, Dirkson was a curriculum resource teacher. In his new position, Dirkson is receiving a $51,632 raise, moving his salary to $128,633, according to Linda Winters, the school system’s business manager.

Francese signed a contract June 4 to serve as an assistant principal from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015 with a salary of $133,862, according to documents obtained by the Record-Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request. Winters said his salary will remain the same as a curriculum coordinator for English Language Arts and Humanities.

Francese was hired in 1999 to become the assistant principal of Lyman Hall High School. In 2004, he transferred to Sheehan.

In June, Francese was placed on paid administrative leave for two days as school officials investigated a teacher’s allegations that he made “inappropriate comments” to the teacher during an end-of-the-year evaluation, according to school documents.

In May 2012, Francese met with supervisors to discuss concerns raised by a parent who said Francese made “inappropriate” comments and that he was “a professional bully,” according to personnel documents. At that time, a school official cited a 2011 incident when Sheehan teachers reported being offended by comments made by Francese.

“In each situation, your professionalism was called into question because of your words, behavior and tone,” wrote Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Jan Guarino.

When asked if the complaints against Francese concerned Marrone or other board members, he said he couldn’t comment.

“No one brought anything forward to the board,” Marrone said. “We found out about this stuff after the fact. So there’s nothing we can add.”

McKay said Francese’s new position will cater to his strengths.

“His background is in language arts and his reputation in the district is he’s a very strong writer and had good communication skills,” she said.

School board members Shortell, Castelli and Hlavac couldn’t be reached for comment. Francese and Dirkson also couldn’t be reached .

Funding for the changes involving Dirksen and Francese were freed up by retirements, said School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo.

It’s unclear the specific amount of money the school system saved from retirements, but earlier this year the Board of Education was anticipating a $68,157 savings. (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ

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