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West High principal probe continues

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 16. 2012 7:54PM
Manchester West High School principal MaryEllen McGorry, right, talks with National Honor Society advisor Jim McGeough, left, outside of a UNH Manchester classroom in 2008. 

MANCHESTER - The investigation of suspended Manchester High School West Principal MaryEllen McGorry could be completed by the end of the month, Mayor Ted Gatsas said Friday.

McGorry was suspended from her duties at West in late September and West secretary Denise Michael was suspended a week later, both for undisclosed reasons.

Manchester School District officials have said those reasons will remain classified, at least until the investigation has been completed.

"I'm hoping the board will be brought up to date in the next week or two," Gatsas said.

At the end of October the district hired attorney Julie Moore, a human resources specialist and founder of the Employee Practices Group, to handle the investigation.

The New Hampshire Union Leader asked toreview any contract or written agreement the school district has entered into this year with Moore orEmployment Practices Group, which is based in Wellesley, Mass., and has an office in Hopkinton.

Dean Eggert, a Manchester attorney representing the school district, responded that much of the information - including the names of the employees and allegations that led to the suspensions - were subject to attorney-client privilege and therefore confidential.

Eggert on Friday did provide the Union Leader's attorney with copies of the district's agreement to hire Moore as an independent fact-finder, but the names and nature of the investigation were blacked out.

Superintendent Thomas Brennan, who was out sick Friday and not available for comment, signed the agreement retaining Moore on Oct. 29 at the rate of $250 an hour. Moore gave no indication of how long she expected the investigation to last, saying she would strive to conclude it as promptly as possible while being objective, precise and thorough.

Moore said Friday that she needed to complete pending interviews before she could estimate when her report would be finished.

"Once I have concluded the interviews, I will be in position to say," she said.

Brennan told members of the Board of School Committee that he was hiring Moore, but did not disclose to board members what prompted the suspensions of McGorry and Michael, both of whom are still getting paid during the investigation.

McGorry's salary is $103,700 and Michael, manager of the high school's secretaries, works full-time for an hourly rate of $27.80.

Board member Arthur Beaudry said his frustration has been building as the weeks passed without any updates to the board, which could ultimately decide McGorry's fate. "I honestly think as school board members we should have been notified of what the allegations are," Beaudry said. "They have told us absolutely nothing."

Beaudry said he was also concerned about the cost of the investigation, although he has not heard how many hours Moore has spent on it.

"We are so far in the dark on this it's unbelievable," he said. "We have interim people taking over the schools one way or another. We want to get the school back to some kind of normalcy. It's difficult when the leader is out."

Beaudry was hopeful the board would get some sort of update when it meets Nov. 28.

McGorry, a former prosecutor who changed her career from the law to education, started as a substitute teacher at West, where she graduated in 1981. She was hired as an English teacher in 2001, assistant principal in July 2005, interim principal in 2007, and principal the following year.

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