Franklin Countys First News

Parents, teachers rally around principal in advance of Thursday’s meeting

LIVERMORE FALLS - A situation that began unraveling Christmas Day is expected to dominate the agenda of the Regional School Unit 73 board meeting Thursday evening.

School Board Chair Denise Rodzen said she woke Christmas morning to a flurry of emails asking if she'd seen a Sun Journal news story detailing Superintendent Todd LeRoy's plan to "trim" the district's administrative team for budgeting purposes.

"It was all of a sudden," Rodzen said, when reached by phone Tuesday.

That trim included removing Spruce Mountain High School Principal TJ Plourde from his position.

In a letter to the newspaper, LeRoy wrote: "Mr. Plourde was not fired. The plan has been to reduce the administrative team by one position and utilize the cost savings to bring additional help and resources to our district's students. The original plan was to wait to implement this plan, but decided to move the timetable up a little to begin the process of transforming two schools, the middle and high schools, into one school, a secondary school."

Despite stating that Plourde was not fired, LeRoy went on to write that the district will provide assistance and positive references for Plourde to find employment in a different district.

The decision was rescinded last week following a closed-door meeting of RSU 73 board members and officials. The board met in executive session for more than three hours Monday evening.

"The board never voted to do his plan of consolidating or whatever he wanted to do. It was never brought before us. There's a process we have that includes meeting with staff, teachers, the community to weigh the pros and the cons before voting on anything like that," Rodzen said.

Attempts to contact LeRoy and Plourde via phone and email made Tuesday morning were not returned by the time this article was posted.

LeRoy's controversial move has been met with significant resistance from parents, staff and students, including several Facebook pages, Bring Back TJ and Remove Todd LeRoy. A petition for LeRoy to step down from his position has been circulated and is expected to be presented to the school board Thursday.

"Due to Mr. LeRoy’s manner of executing sweeping changes with no long-term plan or proof of the wanted outcome, and due to the way he responded to the community’s concerns, he has lost the trust of this community. He is no longer an effective administrator, and his contract should be immediately terminated as such," the petition states.

The petition is also moving for any board members that were aware of the situation to be removed from their positions.

A vote of no confidence was presented to staff by the district's Education Association Tuesday evening resulting in a 155-4 tally.

Aside from three directors who did not vote on the matter, the board collectively approved the hiring of LeRoy back in August. Prior to coming to RSU 73, LeRoy was the superintendent in Madison, School Administrative District 59, for five years before resigning. As superintendent in SAD 59, LeRoy was faced with difficult budgeting situations, along with the overseeing of systematic changes including the withdrawal of several towns.

"Some people are making a reference to his time in Madison, but the situation was totally different. In Madison the board gave approval, this board never even voted. So I don't compare the two situations," Rodzen said.

"Those issues did come up in the hiring process and we were provided explanations. It's not my story to tell," she added.

Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Spruce Mountain Middle School cafeteria.

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4 Responses »

  1. Good job trying to cut the fat in out of control spending. Other local district should follow suit

  2. From my experience as a board member in a fellow district, the Superintendents can easily forget that they work at the pleasure of the board and the community...

  3. Michelle,
    That is the way it's setup to work, but in reality most board members seem to just bow down at the feet of the superintendent.

  4. Doesn't seem to register Michelle, but you are correct in that it appears to be the practice of keeping the board and public blind as to what's going on or what isn't going on at school. I've often thought from what I hear that the public doesn't need to know ANNND not smart enough to realize what is best for the students! Anyway,looks like they know what to do about matters in 73 and help pave the way for others. Thanks SPRUCE!

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