Larabee 'settlement' sought
Minutes say board sought negotiated settlement with superintendent last month
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:00 AM
The Philadelphia School Board is negotiating a "settlement" with Superintendent Terry Larabee, according to its Sept. 30 minutes made public Tuesday.
No final resolution was reached Tuesday when city school officials met behind closed doors in a seventh special called meeting to discuss a personnel matter involving Larabee, who was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 4.
Four days earlier on Aug. 31, police were dispatched to the Larabee home.
No charges were filed in the incident which stemmed from a personal matter, said Capt. Dan Refre of the Philadelphia Police Department.
According to the School Board's Sept. 30 minutes - approved and made public on Tuesday - members at that time directed their attorney to negotiate a settlement of all claims with Dr. Larabee and present the settlement to the board for approval.
The School Board spent just over an hour in executive session Tuesday with attorney Amy Kilpatrick Taylor and business director Sandra Martin.
School Board President Ron Sparnecht said after the meeting that the board wanted to let "our minutes speak for ourselves."
Sparnecht said the board was "so very close" to a resolution in the matter.
"We've got to be extremely careful to see that everything is legal and binding. We hope to have a resolution by the end of the month."
Sparnecht said he understood the public's concern for a quick resolution.
"We, as a board, understand and we are moving as quickly as possible to resolve it," he said.
Larabee's contract with the school district expires in June 2015, he said.
Earlier this month Sparnecht said it was "common knowledge" that Larabee had brought in an attorney.
"Our attorney and his attorney are discussing our options," Sparnecht said at the time.
About 100 people packed the Philadelphia High School cafeteria on Sept. 17, voicing complaints about Larabee.
After that executive session ended, Sparnecht said that no action was taken and asked those in attendance for patience.
"The board appreciates our community's involvement voicing their concerns in the issue addressed this evening," he said then.
On Sept. 9, the School Board extended Larabee's administrative leave until further notice.
Christie Rowcliff, special education director, and Lee Ann Fulton, curriculum director, were appointed jointly as acting superintendent.
On Sept. 16, the board met with Larabee in the high school library in an executive session for over two hours before ending without any action taken.
During the Sept. 17 regular school board meeting in the cafeteria, the School Board entered into an executive session and heard from a number of people behind closed doors.
For more than an hour, attendees waited for news from the board and periodically a person was called in to talk to the board.
When Leroy Clemons, president of the Neshoba County chapter of the NAACP, was asked to speak, cheering and clapping followed him into the closed meeting.
While what was said during the closed session was not made public, Clemons furnished a copy of his prepared remarks to a Democrat reporter.
"It is regrettable that instead of being here tonight to celebrate the recent improvement in our test scores and the remarkable work of our students, teachers and administrators, we are forced to address an alleged issue of ... behavior," Clemons wrote.
"We, the Neshoba NAACP, ask the school board that if the recent allegations of ... behavior be confirmed, that Philadelphia School District Superintendent of Education, Dr. Terry Larabee be held accountable to the same codes of conduct that govern our state and local school district."
Clemons said he had interviewed more than 100 people, from teachers, students, parents and community members, and that many have expressed fear, anger and lack of confidence in the city school system.
Dr. Larabee was appointed the superintendent of the Philadelphia Public School District in effective July 1, 2011, in a unanimous decision by the School Board.
Eleven people applied for the superintendent's post left vacate by the June 30, 2011, resignation of Dr. Joseph White.
The School Board interviewed five candidates before hiring Larabee.