Polk school board members unsure of LeRoy's future

Several Polk County School Board members say they've lost confidence in their leader.

This comes after Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy was cleared of misconduct allegations involving a senior employee. Now, her future is on the line.

After three of the six board members present at a Tuesday work session expressed serious concerns, a vote on whether or not LeRoy will stay or go was set for Friday at 5 p.m.

Tuesday evening, the district confirmed that LeRoy would not be presenting the Teacher of the Year Award that night. Instead, Deputy Superintendent Jackie Byrd would hand it out.

LeRoy started the work session with an apology.

"Please allow me to apologize for any failure on my part to ineffectively manage a relationship with a senior staff member," LeRoy said. "I take responsibility for that and I've learned from it."

She continued, "I am ready to put this behind me and move forward. I remain wholly dedicated to the students and staff of this district and to the goals and expectations of the school board and this community."

LeRoy has been the focus of an internal investigation after Associate Superintendent Greg Rivers filed nine misconduct claims against her, accusing her of sexual harassment, making inappropriate comments, pursuing a relationship beyond professional boundaries and creating a hostile work environment when he declined.

"Anyone can say what he or she wishes to say," LeRoy said. "However, that does not make it true."

An independent investigation cleared LeRoy of any misconduct, but did find she may have crossed a professional line. The report recommended more sexual harassment training for LeRoy and her staff.

However, the investigation did not clear concerns of school board members.

"I have lost confidence in Mrs. LeRoy's ability to continue leading the Polk County school system," said Board Member Lynn Wilson.

Wilson, Dick Mullenax and Lori Cunningham all echoed the same sentiment.

"Our district deserves better," Mullenax said. "It'll be impossible for the superintendent to regain respect needed from all of our stakeholders."

Tim Harris and Hunt Berryman did not make clear which way they were leaning.

"We do need to be fair to everyone involved, but obviously, first, we have an obligation to our students," said Berryman.

Meanwhile, Kay Fields sees a 30-day suspension as appropriate discipline.

"She should be placed on a professional development plan addressing some of the concerns that were in the investigation," Fields said. "I believe she should be given an opportunity to gain the trust and respect from the community."

Board member Hazel Sellers was not present Tuesday because she was sick.

All six members at the work session agreed on one thing - a decision on LeRoy's future needs to happen soon.

After all was said and done, the two key players had little more to add.

"I stand by everything I said in my complaint, that's my only comment," said Rivers.

As she walked out of the meeting, LeRoy said, "I've already spoken this morning with my statement I believe you all should have received it."