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January 31. 2013 8:55PM

McGorry's suspension: The public needs to know more

High school is full of mysteries. How a principal wound up with a year-long paid suspension and a negotiated resignation should not be one of them.

Manchester High School West Principal MaryEllen McGorry was placed on paid leave in September, just weeks after the school year began. Superintendent Thomas Brennan immediately hired a private consultant to investigate whatever it was the administration thought McGorry did to deserve the suspension. As the year went on, the bills racked up.

McGorry continued to collect her $103,700 salary. On top of that, the outside investigation has cost the city at least $48,000. The city also has continued to pay McGorry's secretary, Denise Michael, who was suspended as well. She was paid $27.80 an hour.

The school board on Monday approved a deal that will allow McGorry to resign, effective in April. She will continue receiving health benefits until June 30th. It seems that the whole, mysterious episode is to be swept under the proverbial rug. Parents and taxpayers should consider that unacceptable.

As it stands, McGorry, a popular principal, will leave under a cloud of suspicion. Her reputation has been called into question, but there is to be no resolution. The people of Manchester are not to know whether their administration was in error or whether one of their principals committed a serious breach of trust. The people deserve to know.

The administration has been mum about the reasons for McGorry's and Michael's suspensions, citing state privacy laws. The state's right-to-know law allows government bodies to keep personnel matters secret. There are good reasons for such a policy, but experience has shown that it is so broad as to become an excuse to keep secret information in which the public has a legitimate interest. Legislators need to look for revisions that will protect privacy while making the public better informed about the governance of public institutions.


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