By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Kerri Nowak has been replaced as principal at Huth Road Elementary School after the Grand Island Board of Education approved two agreements at Monday's board meeting.
Grand Island Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Graham called Nowak's departure a "sabbatical leave."
Neither resolution mentioned Nowak by name or a "sabbatical leave." The board has not revealed, during the meeting itself or after requests from the Dispatch, what the agreements even say.
The public meeting began late as the board met in executive session past the 7:30 p.m. start time of the regular meeting. In the middle of the meeting, the Board of Education added four items that were not on the original agenda.
Without discussion on the substance of the resolutions, the board voted 4-3 on the first agreement and 7-0 on the second.
Voting yes for a resolution on the first unknown agreement were trustees Glenn Bobeck, Sue Marston and Joy LaMarca and board President Lisa Pyc. Voting no were trustees Ashli Dreher and Rich D'Agostino and Vice President Donna Tomkins.
Immediately after approving the agreements, the board approved a leave of absence request for Dr. Ami Alderman, a teacher-on-special-assignment. The board then appointed Alderman as interim principal at Huth Road Elementary School, effective the next day.
Graham said Alderman is in her second year as a teacher-on-special-assignment in the district and she has all necessary administrative credentials as well as a doctorate degree.
"She's been covering the building on a day-to-day basis," Graham said.
Nowak was not present for the meeting. When contacted by the Dispatch after the meeting, Nowak confirmed she is on "sabbatical leave." Asked if there was a timetable for her return, Nowak said no.
After the meeting, Graham said, "We had a resolution to approve an agreement that we looked at in our executive session, and we had a second resolution to approve a second agreement that was discussed in executive session."
Regarding what the two agreements were, Graham said, "They were matters of personnel."
Asked if the matters of personnel pertained to Nowak, Graham responded by asking if he could respond to the Dispatch's questions off the record and was told no.
Asked if Nowak could come back, Graham said, "It's a sabbatical leave. So we approved a sabbatical leave for her to engage in educational studies."
Nowak is still on the payroll, Graham said, adding, "People who take a sabbatical are still paid."
Nowak has been principal of Huth Road School since the August of 2009.
Asked if Nowak could be on the payroll indefinitely on sabbatical, Graham said, "She's just on sabbatical leave."
Alderman's salary as a teacher-on-special-assignment is $81,309, according to Graham.
"Her salary does not change as she assumes the role of interim principal. So, there is no change to our budget and no increase or decrease for Ami," he said in an email Thursday.
Asked why the agreements and the votes regarding Alderman were not on the original agenda, Graham said, "Because we just reviewed the agreement."
Graham said the district would send a letter home to families telling them Nowak is on sabbatical and that Alderman is the new interim principal.
Freedom of Information Act
The Island Dispatch filed a Freedom of Information Law requesting the agreements printed below in writing. The district has yet to provide the agreements in writing and has 20 days from the day of request to send the information or a reason for a denial of the FOIL request.
"PI 4. RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Grand Island Central School District hereby approves, as presented and revised, the first agreement discussed in the immediately preceding executive session of the board.
"PI 5. RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Grand Island Central School District hereby approves, as presented, the second agreement discussed in the immediately preceding executive session of the board."