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Edwards-Knox holds off on replacing terminated principal

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RUSSELL - School officials at Edwards-Knox Central School don’t plan on hiring a new high school principal this school year because they want a larger pool of candidates to apply for the job.

A replacement is needed for Michelle J. Varian, who was terminated from the principal’s job during a Jan. 28 school board meeting.

Despite receiving letters of support from the public on Mrs. Varian’s behalf, board members voted 9-0 to remove Mrs. Varian from the $81,291 a year job.

Although her termination date is March 28, Mrs. Varian has not been working since mid-Decemer when she was placed on paid administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.

Contacted by telephone, Mrs. Varian said she felt “discouraged” by the board’s decision.

A reason for the firing was not provided in the letter she received following the board meeting.

“I don’t have any recourse,” Mrs. Varian said, noting that she does not have tenure status, which offers employment protection. “At this point, I’m interviewing for new positions at other places.”

Although she would not discuss details, Mrs. Varian said the situation that led to her termination involved School Superintendent Suzanne L. Kelly.

“This is between myself and Sue Kelly,” she said. “The problems (at the district) were there before I came, and they will be there after I leave.”

Prior to coming to EK in 2010, Mrs. Varian was employed at Rock Mount Preparatory School, North Carolina.

She said she’s lined up two interviews, one at a private school in North Carolina and one in another part of New York state.

Ms. Kelly said high school science teacher Amy L. Sykes will work as an administrative intern in the high school principal’s office. Her teaching duties have been temporarily assigned to Russell Koster, a substitute.

Duties that Mrs. Sykes isn’t allowed to handle due to restrictions in her teachers union contract will be handled by Ms. Kelly and Elementary Principal Amy L. Lamitie.

The district is advertising for a chemistry and physics teacher to replace Mrs. Sykes for the remainder of the school year.

However, the principal job won’t be advertised any time soon, Ms. Kelly said in an email.

“We will not be posting the principal position at this time as we feel there would be a stronger candidate pool at the end of the school year instead of mid-stream,” she said.

The school board meets again 6:30 p.m. Monday in the media center.

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