Buyout angers Fonda-Fultonville district residents

A petition being circulated by angry Fonda-Fultonville school district residents calls for the re


A petition being circulated by angry Fonda-Fultonville school district residents calls for the resignation of Superintendent James Hoffman for the way he handled the case of former elementary school principal Alicia Henry.

Residents are upset about the extended sick leave and recent retirement agreement between the district and Henry, who left her position around Thanksgiving last year for undisclosed reasons and will get a one-time payout of nearly a quarter-million dollars to resign.

“We’re all completely outraged,” said Delilah Purcell, one of roughly 60 people who attended a citizens meeting Wednesday evening at the Glen firehouse on Auriesville Road.

Purcell and others are awaiting results of Freedom of Information Law requests they submitted in hopes of getting more details about Henry’s departure.

She went on paid leave in November 2009 using sick time from eight years of service. She remained on sick leave up until Oct. 18, when the district’s Board of Education accepted her resignation effective Oct. 1, according to a news release from the district.

Hoffman on Wednesday said he could not comment on the issue and referred questions to attorney Jeffrey D. Honeywell who is representing the district in the matter. He was out of the office and could not be reached Wednesday.

Under an agreement securing Henry’s retirement, she will get a one-time payment that equals 2.5 years of salary, according to the school district’s announcement.

Officials in July said Henry’s salary was $95,167, and 2.5 times that amount is $237,917.50.

The district will not, however, be obligated to pay Henry anything additional for benefits or unused vacation time.

“The decision was made in an effort to allow all parties, including staff and students, to move forward and focus on the education of the students attending the Fonda-Fultonville Elementary School,” the statement reads. “There will be no further comment by the district upon this matter.”

Henry could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

After she went on sick leave for undisclosed reasons, the Board of Education agreed to find a doctor to perform an independent physical exam — again for undisclosed reasons.

Purcell said she’s been hearing reports from several staff members and teachers about Henry’s activities while still on the job, but she said none of it can be substantiated.

She said she spoke with an official from the state Education Department and it’s her understanding the group needs to get at least 250 signatures to submit a petition.

The petition calls for Hoffman’s removal, contending he allowed teaching staff “to be manipulated and bullied.” It seeks a formal code of conduct focusing on “communication, drug use and community involvement.”

It also asks for a review of Board of Education members’ authority and ability to restrict discussion on issues.

The district is conducting a search for a new elementary principal and plans to get one in place by January.

Board of Education President Linda Wszolek later Wednesday said she understands people have questions but she cannot comment.

She said people are welcome to voice their concerns at the next Board of Education meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 15.

According to the district’s Web site, the board is expected to close the session to the public for a half-hour to discuss “confidential personnel matters” before beginning the public portion of the meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Categories: Schenectady County

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