Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 6, 2006
Riply sacked as school district head
Superintendent's leadership called into question
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"I'm not surprised that he would suggest he is going to start legal action."
Assistant superintendent Joan Carr, a district employee since 1974, will fill in as acting superintendent until a new superintendent is hired.
A severance package of $130,000, equivalent to six months salary and benefits, will be paid out to the former superintendent. Ripley made about $165,000 a year.
He became superintendent in August 1999. His contract had been renewed just a year ago for another three years.
In a March 1 interview, Ripley complained he was given no reason for his termination despite his long service with the district and numerous accomplishments as superintendent.
He told the WCR he might consider legal action against the board because he was terminated while on sick leave.
"I'm surprised and I am very disappointed because I have worked with this board for over 30 years, (including) over six years as superintendent, during which time we had enormous successes," he said.
"Certainly the board indicated to me they were looking for a change in direction and we were talking about that but I've been on a medical leave since last Thursday (Feb. 23) and the board certainly was made aware of that fact last Thursday.
"So I was very surprised and disappointed to find out that when I was away ill they held a meeting and terminated my superintendent contract."
Ripley said he may take legal action against the board for dismissing him while on sick leave. "But first of all I have to get my health back before I make any decisions whatsoever."
"We told him it is time for a change."
- Debbie Cavaliere
Ripley said the board was made aware of his sick leave the afternoon of Feb. 23 both through the district's employee health nurse as well as his lawyer.
"I'm not surprised that he would suggest he is going to start legal action," Cavaliere told the WCR March 1.
However, the board believes firing Ripley was the right thing for the school district, she said.
Cavaliere said the board had been negotiating with Ripley for about two weeks but wasn't notified of Ripley's medical leave until about 4 p.m. Feb. 24. By then a deadline had passed for Ripley to respond to a letter related to the negotiations.
"We didn't hear back from him and when we did hear back we heard that he was on sick leave."
At the news conference, Cavaliere denied Ripley's firing was related to media reports last summer about the former superintendent's personal life.
"That's not the reason for the termination," she said emphatically. "It would have happened last summer if it was directly related to that."
Ripley, who is separated from his wife, has been the subject of widespread rumours that he has had a relationship with another district staff member. About six months ago he sent an email to trustees and principals seeking their help to quash the rumours.
The board chair also had some words of praise for Ripley.
"During the seven years that he was superintendent he did a good job," she said. "Our district did well on PAT (Provincial Achievement Tests) scores, we did have a balanced budget and we were well respected by Alberta Education. He's done good work for the district."
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