By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO January 26, 2007 An end has been brought to the saga involving sexually explicit and, in some cases, racist e-mails sent and received by Monticello Middle School employees.
After an investigation which started in September, longtime Monticello Middle School Assistant Principal Alfred Heins was cleared of the most serious charges that some of the e-mails were racist.
Two secretaries were involved in sending and receiving those e-mails. They have been suspended for two months without pay and transferred to an undisclosed department where they will have no direct contact with students.
Heins will also not be returning to the school, but on Wednesday Superintendent Patrick Michel said that the school wants to clear Heins’ name of any involvement in the sending or receiving of any racist e-mails.
However, Michel said some of the e-mails Heins was sending and looking at were inappropriate in nature and a violation of the district’s regulations. Heins will be able to retire in June after an otherwise unblemished record of three decades of service to the district.
“We thought it is very important that we clear his name in regards to the serious e-mails we are dealing with,” said Michel. None of the e-mails sent out by any of the employees were criminal in nature, he added. None of the computers contained child pornography.
One of the other secretaries initially accused was allowed to return to work in October after it was found she had not been involved in the scandal. The whole investigation started after the e-mails were sent to various district employees.
The two-month suspensions for the two unidentified secretaries is the second harshest the school can give under New York State Service Law. Michel said it would be difficult and costly to attempt to fire them. Lawyer fees could have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars with the likelihood they wouldn’t win. Michel said he didn’t want to release the names of the two in question, nor their new job location in order for them to be able to have a fresh start.
They will also have to go to sensitivity training. Michel is considering wider sensitivity training for other school employees. However, he doesn’t want to to rush into it.
“We sent a very strong signal. We have to be careful about the e-mails we send out because it reflects on the entire organization,” he stated.