UPDATE: Garrow put on leave following complaint
MILTON—The Milton School District placed Superintendent Mike Garrow on paid leave in October while a school board-appointed attorney investigated a complaint filed against him, officials said.
According to district records obtained by The Gazette through an open records request, Garrow was placed on leave with full pay and benefits effective Oct. 12.
A letter from board President Rob Roy that was placed in Garrow’s employment file said Garrow’s leave would allow Fennimore-based attorney Eileen Brownlee to investigate a “complaint concerning your (Garrow’s) conduct” without “interference or impediment.”
The leave at the time was “not disciplinary in nature,” according to the Oct. 12 letter.
The district has not disclosed details of the complaint, and it has not provided details of the investigation or its outcome—or whether an investigation is ongoing.
Nor has the district made clear whether Garrow plans to return to his job or whether his ongoing leave is tied to any findings in the investigation.
The district, citing state statute, has denied The Gazette access to documents that fully disclose the terms and details of Garrow’s leave.
In a letter to The Gazette, Roy wrote that disclosing certain records about Garrow’s leave at this time could have a “significant adverse impact on the record subject and his/her family.”
It’s not clear whether the complaint or investigation involved other district staff or students, and it’s not clear whether the board intends to at some point release details.
Garrow has been on administrative leave since Oct. 15, and last week the board and Garrow agreed that he would remain on leave with full pay and benefits through June 30, 2013. Garrow’s current two-year contract expires July 30, 2014.
The board had intended to consider a contract Monday for an interim superintendent for the rest of the school year, officials said. However, that action was shelved amid Roy’s apparent hospitalization over the weekend, according to board members.
Board Vice President Wilson Leong, who led the meeting Monday, said the board expects Roy to recover soon and resume attending to district business this week.
Leong refused to give details about Garrow’s leave or the complaint and the investigation, although he acknowledged the board seeks to hire an interim superintendent soon. He called the current situation “awkward” and “inconvenient.”
Garrow, however, has spoken out about his leave.
Records supplied by the district to The Gazette include a letter from Garrow dated Nov. 20 and addressed “To Whom it May Concern.”
In the letter, Garrow wrote that “following the conclusion of the investigation, it was found that I had not conducted myself in any way as to give the district any cause or reason for termination.”
Garrow wrote in the letter that for several weeks of his leave he had limited contact with the district and that district officials at the time did not give him details or reasons for the complaint or the investigation, including whether it involved allegations of “misconduct.”
Garrow has said the leave has allowed him to deal with the death of his father and “pursue his dreams.” In the letter, Garrow also offered a rebuttal to rumors that he says have circulated since he bowed out of the district Oct. 15.
Garrow indicated that the rumors involve allegations of “immorality” and other indiscretions, including financial mismanagement while he has been at the helm of the district. He denies the rumors.
“I can share that I am not having, nor have I ever had an affair, nor ever misappropriated any funds, nor have I participated in any immoral or illegal activity,” Garrow wrote.
Garrow wrote that he had the opportunity to return to the district but that the board and Garrow “mutually agreed” this month to allow him to remain on leave “for personal reasons.”
Garrow called the leave “the right choice for me and my family” and wrote that he plans no further comment on his leave or “situations” that he’s dealing with now which he characterized as “wrong, unfair or unjust.”
Garrow has been a district employee since 2011. According to a board performance review obtained by The Gazette, Garrow in May 2012 earned ratings of “acceptable” or better for all applicable administrative skills.
One comment by the board in the review urged Garrow to “take a little more time to think through the process before responding and implementing change,” while another comment criticized Garrow’s late start day and staff development time proposal, saying it should have had “more planning” before it was introduced to the board.
Garrow is paid an annual salary of $122,400 and has earned net pay of $11,294 between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15, according to district records.