School board candidate Larry Green under fire
Personnel files posted online
Larry Green, a former Martin County school principal and now a district school board candidate in a run-off election against incumbent Mike DiTerlizzi, says that his record as an administrator has been smeared publicly in retaliation by those who do not like Green.
“It’s all politically motivated,” he says.
Letters, emails, complaints, investigative reports, photos and official reprimands from Green’s school district personnel file surfaced in private mailboxes over the past month, all of which can be obtained through a public records request. Some of the documents also were posted on social media and were a topic of a recent Stuart News article.
“People who have my political signs in their yards are the ones who are being targeted, and they’re getting copies of these files in their mailboxes,” Green says. “It’s all political, and it started back in 2008, when I openly supported Wayne Gent for school superintendent … and after Nancy Kline won that race, I walked on eggshells for a couple of years. Then in the third year of her reign, she got together with a bunch of disgruntled parents and some teachers trying to get me fired.”
An investigation of parents’ and teachers’ complaints was conducted in 2011 by the school district attorney, Kim Sabol. Her investigative report, which Green says was one-sided and “re-written 15 times to please Nancy Kline” resulted in a formal, written reprimand by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Frank Raffone during Kline’s tenure.
Sabol conceded that “many drafts” of the report were prepared; “however, I stand by my report,” she said. “I wanted it to be accurate because my name was on it.”
Reprimands by Laurie Gaylord
More recently, Green also received two written reprimands from current School Superintendent Laurie Gaylord, the latest of which is being investigated by the state Department of Education for Green’s alleged failure to timely report the suspected child sexual abuse of a Pinewood Elementary student.
State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart filed a formal complaint against Green on Aug. 18 alleging that he had not immediately reported suspected child abuse while principal of Pinewood.
The details of the charge, according to Gaylord’s reprimand letter in Green’s file, reveal that a Pinewood teacher was told about comments from a student on a Friday last December that could have indicated an instance of sexual abuse in a fellow student’s home, but the teacher was unsure whether or not to report the claim “because it was hearsay.”
She sought advice from Green the following Monday morning, according to the school district’s records, and he told her to wait until after the school day ended to report the incident to the state Department of Children and Families, which requires immediate reporting.
The school district’s investigation found the report was not made in a timely manner due to “a lack of understanding of reporting requirements,” thus Green was instructed to undergo additional training in child abuse reporting procedures.
In a letter to Green, Stewart wrote that the incident justified sanctions against Green’s education certificate and recommended the state Education Practices Commission sanction Green. Penalties could include an additional written reprimand, fine, probation or the suspension or revocation of Green’s teaching certificate, according to the letter. Green has denied the charge, saying he will appeal any sanctions that may be forthcoming.
In an unrelated incident, Gaylord also reprimanded Green in 2014 for improperly supervising district school system employees who were clocking in and out for each other, one of whom was out of the country for a week, yet payroll records showed their presence at Pinewood Elementary each day.
A criminal investigation resulted in the arrest of two of the school’s employees for grand theft, both of whom were dismissed from their school district jobs.
Included in the same reprimand letter were the results of another school district investigation that found Green also had not followed the superintendent’s directives regarding staffing, which resulted in the school being unlocked at night for 26 of 41 consecutive days, Gaylord said in her reprimand.
Some SeaWind parents, teachers complain
The 2014 reprimand wasn’t the only time Green was disciplined for failing to follow administrative directives, or for other infractions of district policies during his 38 years as a Martin County educator, in which he rose from a physical education teacher to assistant principal and to principal at SeaWind Elementary in 2006 and at Pinewood for the last five years.
The eight-page investigative report filed in 2011, which Green maintains was simply a Kline vendetta, included interviews by the school district attorney of 24 persons, including SeaWind parents, volunteers and teachers, as well as a spot-audit of Green emails, to investigate charges of improper conduct in the workplace, violating school district policies and procedures, and violating his teaching contract.
Findings included Green’s perceived favoritism toward young, attractive female staff members, revealed by his hiring practices, assignments and in rule enforcement. Witnesses reported to school officials – and Green conceded during the investigation – that he had said, “I am not going to hire some middle-aged woman who decides to make a mid-life career change and become a teacher.”
The report also found – and went unchallenged by Green – that he and his wife had used airlines “buddy” passes for trips, which had been the gift of parents of a student who wanted to attend SeaWind Elementary, although their home was outside the school’s attendance boundaries, and that Green had also allegedly accepted other highly valued gifts from the parents of other students.
In the eight-page report, Sabol said that parental testimony alone was insufficient to show a “preponderance of evidence” to justify a hearing of all the allegations. The school district required that all 12 teachers who wrote complaints be willing to testify at a hearing; however, only one of 12 teachers interviewed would be willing to testify due to their fear of retaliation, Sabol reported.
As a result, Sabol recommended, at the minimum, additional training for Green in leadership/effective management skills; sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retribution; age discrimination and retaliation; ethics and professionalism. She also suggested additional training in bullying.
Green completed training in effective leadership and management skills, age and sex discrimination, and ethics and professionalism, as ordered by Raffone, according to school officials. He also was reassigned from SeaWind to Pinewood Elementary for the 2011-12 school year, where he remained until retiring in May.
District asks for return of sick pay
Green also has disagreed with the school district’s assertion in May that he miscalculated his accrued sick pay, thus he needed to reimburse the district for $1,361 overpaid to him when he retired.
After two meetings with Green to resolve the discrepancy, according to the district’s payroll manager, the amount remains unpaid. Green declined to comment for this article on his intentions to reimburse the district, demanding instead to know how the information was obtained. (The district’s detailed documentation is part of Green’s personnel file.)
When Green retired, he was earning a salary of approximately $92,000 annually. His retirement pay is $4,999 a month, which began in May 2016 and is a lifetime benefit.
“The thing to remember is that I started at SeaWind in 2006,” Green said in a recent telephone interview, “and when I left, that school was an A school, but it’s not an A school now; and in the last five years, I took Pinewood from a D to a B status, and it’s the only Title 1 elementary school in the entire district with a B grade – and that’s ALL that’s important.”
Indeed, all the other Title 1 elementary schools, which include Hobe Sound, SeaWind, Port Salerno, J.D. Parker and Warfield Elementary in Indiantown, have C grades, with Pinewood the only exception with a B grade; however, Pinewood also held a B grade when Green took over as principal in 2011, according to district records.
Green expresses confidence that the release of the contents of his personnel file will not affect the election, although Green’s file also includes what many would consider an embarrassing photo of the former school principal with a buxom Hooters waitress that likely also will make the rounds of social media.
“I am not withdrawing from this school board race,” he says. “I am in it to win.”