SW Washington school principal sacked amid investigation

VANCOUVER, Wash .– The Evergreen School Board in Vancouver, Wash., Fired Superintendent Mike Merlino after putting him on paid leave as part of a misconduct investigation earlier this month.

At a special meeting, school board members voted to fire Merlino immediately and without cause, allowing Merlino to receive about a year’s salary at almost $ 306,000, The Columbian reported.

Deputy Council Chair Ginny Gronwoldt argued Thursday that her dismissal without cause would be more fiscally responsible action for the district.

An email obtained by The Columbian revealed that an independent investigation had found evidence that Merlino had attempted to commit abuse of power and retaliatory acts against district office workers.

Tyler Firkins, an attorney representing Merlino, issued a statement on behalf of his client saying that Merlino is anxious to “prove the absolute falsehood of the allegation that his conduct was” flagrant “or inappropriate, so the district has reasons for returning it “.

On December 7, Rachael Rogers, a board member, shared a confirmation of the list of complaints and the results of the investigation via email from Rick Kaiser, a Bellevue-based attorney who had led the investigation.

Merlino was put on paid leave the next day.

The email was provided to The Columbian in response to a request for public documents.

According to the document, an anonymous administrative worker from the district office spoke to the school board and filed complaints that Merlino inappropriately tried to promote his girlfriend.

The investigation found evidence that Merlino treated the administrative employee differently over the following weeks, disinviting her to meetings and alienating her, according to the document.

Other complaints alleged that Merlino threatened to fire several employees whom he personally considered not to be “team players”, including the aforementioned administrative employee.

In another incident, the district hired an investigator to investigate a complaint against Merlino for a hire he made. Merlino allegedly tried to terminate that investigator, then requested an independent lawyer – not the district attorney – to help him terminate the investigator, according to the document.

Merlino has been questioned twice as part of the investigation and has reportedly denied many of the complaints against him.

–The Associated Press

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