UPDATE: Details released in Garrow resignation
MILTON–Superintendent Mike Garrow is receiving full pay while on leave the rest of the school year, but Garrow has agreed to resign June 30, according to Milton School District records obtained by The Gazette.
In a resignation agreement that the board supplied to The Gazette today through an open records request, the district disclosed it is paying Garrow for his leave plus paying him $35,000 in severance pay.
The agreement is dated Nov. 12.
Garrow earns $122,000 a year, according to district records.
The resignation comes on the heels of a board investigation into complaints about Garrow's conduct, which officials said led to Garrow being put on leave Oct. 12. The board later granted Garrow paid leave through June 30.
The Milton School District today turned over documents detailing an investigation into complaints that Garrow had “inappropriately” fraternized with district staff during social gatherings, and that last June he had used a school district computer to access a “possibly inappropriate” picture of a woman.
In a rebuttal Garrow filed with open records materials released today, Garrow wrote that he’d used a district computer to pull up a Facebook photo of female friend who he'd suggested a staff member should date.
He said he’d wanted to show some other staff a photo of the friend, and at the time, he’d made remarks that the woman was intelligent and pretty, and that other staff viewing the photo agreed.
School was not in session at the time, Garrow wrote.
The investigator found the photo was “possibly inappropriate,” according to records, and that it “certainly caused discomfort to the staff members to whom it was shown,” according to the records.
A school district policy prevents anyone from using district computers to access or share material that is “profane or obscene.”
Garrow said the woman in the photo he showed was clothed, and he doesn’t believe the photo was in any way inappropriate.
The investigator wrote that during questioning in late October, Garrow said the woman in the photo “might have been wearing a bikini,” while staff who saw the photo reported the woman may have been unclothed.
Garrow said he doesn’t think anyone investigating his conduct ever saw a copy of the photo, and the investigation report said the photo was no longer on the district’s computer system.
Garrow at one point said that he offered to show the board the photo. “They said, ‘It’s no longer relevant,'” he said.
The investigator also looked into complaints that Garrow had fraternized “inappropriately” during social gatherings, but the report said the complaints were unfounded.
In his rebuttal, Garrow sought to clear the air about his conduct in public. He wrote that he’d admitted he was a member of a tavern volleyball league and indicated that he’d consumed alcohol in public after games.
Garrow called the activity “commonplace” and he said that other city officials and local business stakeholders and teachers were routinely involved in the activity.
Garrow also wrote that he was not “suspended” for the rest of the year and argued that he was never on leave due to “misconduct.”
“The board and I reached a mutual agreement and are now living by the terms of that agreement,” Garrow wrote.
The board has not indicated whether it found Garrow guilty of misconduct or whether the investigation's findings have anything to do with Garrow's resignation.
The district wrote in a news release Friday that after the investigation, the board had offered Garrow a chance to continue to work in the district under a “formal set of performance expectations” drafted by the board, but Garrow indicated he wasn’t interested in working under the set of expectations.
The board has not made that document public, despite a request by The Gazette. The district wrote that when Garrow declined to work under expectations, “it became clear to the board that Dr. Garrow’s style and approach were not consistent with the district’s mission.”
That’s when the board began negotiating a separation agreement to end Garrow’s employment with the district “much earlier” than June 2014, when Garrow’s contract was set to expire, according to the district.
Garrow sees it differently. He said that amid heavy media coverage of the situation and rumors about him that he says have continued to circulate among the public, it would have been impossible to return to work in the district.
Garrow said the experience has been “a nightmare” for him and his family, and the fallout from it has made him feel like a “second-class citizen.”
“Read the blog entries. Read what’s in the newspapers. Think about the process,” Garrow told The Gazette in an interview at his home today.
Garrow said he had “no indications” of concerns about his conduct at social gatherings prior to receiving the letter from the district,” informing him that he was being put on leave pending an investigation.
Garrow acknowledged that showing staff a Facebook photo during work hours was “not a great choice,” but he wrote that he “strongly disagrees” that his conduct required a “full-blown” investigation before anyone gave him details about the complaint.
Garrow stopped short of saying that the board handled the complaint or the investigation improperly. “If I were a principal and this were a staff member, I would follow what board policy is. I’m not gonna judge how they conducted it. That’s not for me to do,” Garrow told The Gazette.
Click here to read a pdf of the investigation documents
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