Former school administrator continues to receive salary despite not working

Sat, 2015-03-07

Liza Huber, the school’s former Director of Pupil Services, has apparently left her position several months ago but continues to receive full salary, and the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District (ABRSD) administration refuses to say whether she is performing any duties for the school.

We asked several questions to the Superintendent of Schools, Glenn Brand, about the departure of Ms. Huber. All we have been told is that she is “leaving the District at the end of the school year" or “she is retiring on June 30, 2015.” None of our questions about her pay, her current duties, any benefits being paid, and the reason for her leaving the District were answered, citing “personnel matters” and “matters of privacy.”

We last saw Ms. Huber at a regular School Committee meeting in early September, just after the students came back to school. Ms. Huber did not attend any subsequent meetings. At a meeting sometime in October or November, Superintendent Brand introduced an Interim Director of Pupil Services with no public explanation for Ms. Huber's absence.

Requests for documents related to Ms. Huber's departure have been denied, citing the above reasons as well as "attorney-client privilege." The only documentation we have received are copies of Ms. Huber's W-2 and a current paystub, showing that she continues to receive her salary.

We respect an individual’s privacy. However, when a top school administrator is working under an employment contract with certain benefits, general reasons for an abrupt departure in the middle of the school year would seem to be legitimate. We don’t need any private details, but we do want a public explanation.

As to “personnel matters,” this is a highly subjective issue. Under what circumstances would a public school employee continue to receive full salary, and possibly benefits, for not working for almost a full year? We cannot imagine many circumstances where this would be good public policy and should not be disclosed.

Did the school system do something so egregious that it warrants roughly $100,000 in compensation using public funds without any explanation to taxpayers? If so, the ABRSD has a duty to describe what happened so that the public can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The School Committee held an Executive Session on October 9, 2014, to discuss a personnel matter. We have asked for the minutes to this meeting and our request was denied. We have filed an appeal to the Secretary of State’s office.

We also requested copies of any emails, memos, or correspondence related to Ms. Huber's departure or current pay. All of our requests, other than the payroll records, have been denied, and we filed another appeal with the state.

Last month, a search committee was formed to hire a permanent replacement for the Pupil Services position.

It is hard to imagine a scenario under which a public school employee would continue to be paid full salary and possibly benefits without any work being performed and a blanket denial of any reasonable explanation. Perhaps the state will agree that such secrecy involving public employees and public funds is not warranted.

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