Schools investigate Scotland principal

Ridgefield Public Schools are investigating the conduct of Scotland Elementary School Principal Joanna Genovese after a group of about 100 parents showed up at a June 26 school board meeting to call for her removal.

Acting Superintendent Dr. Robert Miller confirmed the investigation to The Press Friday, June 29.

“We consider any violation of state law or board policy as serious, and when it occurs, we take the necessary actions as needed,” said Miller, who stepped down as acting superintendent this week. Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote, who was hired by the district as interim superintendent in early June, will be continuing the investigation, he said.

“We’ve been investigating, I’m going to pass it over to her,” Miller said.

Personnel Director Karen Dewing will also take part in the investigation into Genovese’ conduct, Miller said.

“I think we need to emphasize that we treat the employee with respect to themselves, and the process, and the law,” he added.

Parents initially raised their concerns to the superintendent’s office about a proposed staffing shuffle that would see several teachers moved from one grade to another.

But parents said they grew alarmed by Genovese behavior; alleging that she at times had only scheduled a single paraeducator to supervise students at recess and lunch, and that she had reposted several memes — images, videos, pieces of text copied and repurposed with slight variations — that encouraged drinking, or included profanity.

Scotland parents also said that Genovese was initially dismissive of their concerns over the staffing changes, and cut short a meeting with parents on June 22 to explain the shuffle, claiming she had a meeting later that day, which parents allege was never scheduled.

“We consider any violation of state law or board policy as serious, and when it occurs, we take the necessary actions as needed,” Miller said.

He declined to say whether Genovese, who resigned as principal of Hurlbutt Elementary School in Weston in September 2012 after it was determined she did not currently hold all of the required credentials, has hired an attorney to represent her over the allegations.

“Anytime a teacher or administrator is going through this type of situation, they typically have a representative from their association that represents them,” he said.

As of June 29, Miller said the staff moves at Scotland would go forward as planned.

Asked directly about whether the district cares what staff members post on their personal social media accounts, Miller deferred to the schools’ policy on social media use.

“According to the social media policy, people need to be posting things in a certain way,” he said. “If people have questions as to whether the policy was violated, they’re welcome to review the policy, which is posted on the district’s site.”

The Press could not reach Genovese for comment on Monday, July 2, because she is currently out of the office on medical leave. Miller said on June 26 that the leave had nothing to do with the allegations against her.