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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 8, 2009

Paolino slated for Troy job

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

A snow day Wednesday for the Troy schools put off a school board vote on naming Michael Paolino as interim principal of the city’s middle school.

“It was on the Jan. 7 agenda,” said Caroline Boardman, spokeswoman for the City School District of Troy. For “all intents and purposes” Paolino would have been named but the meeting was canceled because of the weather and, as of last night, had not been re-scheduled, said Boardman.

Paolino had been the principal of Guilderland High School for less than a year when he was placed on paid administrative leave last July without explanation from the district. In September, he agreed to a settlement that paid his $110,000 annual salary until Dec. 31.

Paolino told The Enterprise this fall that he wanted to stay in education, as that is what he cared most about.

“I just know that’s my passion…,” he said. “I’m trying to put my time at Guilderland behind me and then move forward. And if I had a choice, in terms of the direction to move, it would still be in the field of education.”

Paolino could not be reached for comment yesterday.

After nearly a decade as a popular teacher and administrator in Voorheesville, Paolino had taken the Guilderland job in the fall of 2007. He was both confident and enthused then as, at age 35, he said it was a dream job he had pursued before.

Neither Paolino nor the district would comment on the reason for his leave.

Letters from Guilderland’s superintendent to Paolino that The Enterprise obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request said that Paolino was investigated for “allegations of sexual harassment” and that the district investigation “did not result in any findings that you engaged in any racial harassment or racially bigoted behavior at the GHS.”

Superintendent John McGuire had also told The Enterprise, “There are no health, safaety, or security concerns.”

A school board member said that claims of inappropriate comments were investigated.

The Guilderland School District was embroiled last summer in massive highly-publicized protests as two high-school social-studies teachers fought their transfer to the middle school. A consultant had reported there was a hostile work environment in their department.

Paolino said this fall that he understood the need for the administrative leave and, as the protests on the teachers’ transfers got a lot of publicity, he said, “I didn’t want to put any more negative light on the school district or any negative light on myself or my family, and, again, I tried to work as respectfully as I could with the school district to move forward in the process and that’s how I handled it.”

Mark Diefendorf, the principal of Voorheesville’s high school, where Paolino worked first as a teacher and then as an associate principal, said last fall, “He’s a quality guy who got caught in a perfect storm over there.” Diefendorf referred to the upheaval in the social studies department at Guilderland High School and said of Paolino, “He got mixed in as a non-tenured principal with a new superintendent and a lot of things were going on well beyond his control…He was the person that had to suffer because of what was going on.”

Diefendorf described Paolino as a “personable guy, disciplined, a hard worker who could multi-task and was good at details.”

In resigning on Sept. 16, Paolino agreed to waive any grievance against the school district, and the district agreed to “maintain the confidentiality of the report” on its investigation, according to a copy of the settlement obtained by The Enterprise.

When The Enterprise asked Boardman about the hiring process, about why Paolino was selected, and if the Troy district had had any concerns in hiring Paolino as an interim principal, she said she couldn’t comment. “Anything in regard to hiring or firing is confidential,” Boardman said.

The principal’s post that Paolino is slated to fill was left vacant when Diana Germain, who had been principal of the W. Kenneth Doyle Middle School, got another job, said Boardman. The district has posted to find a replacement for her and the interim principal will serve until that time.

The district’s only middle school, Doyle serves seventh- and eighth-graders, Boardman said. The Troy district serves 4,300 students in nine buildings. 

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