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January 10. 2013 11:02PM

Almost $48,000 spent so far to investigate Manchester principal


Manchester West High School Principal MaryEllen McGorry, shown last May at a naturalization ceremony at the school, remains on paid leave. (UNION LEADER FILE)
MANCHESTER - Manchester schools have spent nearly $48,000 so far investigating West High School Principal MaryEllen McGorry, who was placed on paid leave at the end of September, school officials said Thursday.

The bills have been racked up by the investigator, Julie Moore of the Massachusetts-based Employment Practices Group, whom the school district hired at a rate of $250 an hour to investigate McGorry. On Thursday, the school district said it had spent $47,955.40 on the investigation so far.

The New Hampshire Union Leader has requested access to invoices submitted by Employment Practices Group.

"We're continuing to wrap it up," Brennan said earlier this week. But he said he could not predict when an investigative report will be completed.

"As soon as that's done to my satisfaction and ready to go, I will take steps to move forward, depending on what it says," Brennan said.

In late September, Brennan announced he had suspended the West High School principal and placed her on paid leave from her $103,700-a-year job. A week later, McGorry's secretary, Denise Michael, was placed on paid leave from her $27.80 hourly position.

Brennan's office confirmed Thursday that their pay is continuing. The office said no one else has been suspended as part of the matter.

School board members have said they don't know what the investigation is about and don't expect to be told until the matter goes before them. Months ago, Vice Chairman David Gelinas has said the allegations against the two must be serious for Brennan to suspend them with pay.

Brennan has said that the investigation does not involve the safety of students. In early October, he said it was a high priority to resolve the case as soon as possible.

The money spent so far on the investigation could fund a year's salary for at least one teacher. The starting salary for a first-year teacher is $34,800, according to the district contract with the Manchester Education Association.

But MEA President Ben Dick said he understands the need to do a thorough investigation.

"I've got to assume they have their reasons," he said. He said the MEA is not a part of the investigation, and the MEA did not make a complaint that resulted in the McGorry investigation.


mhayward@unionleader.com

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