Kings Highway principal still on leave after ‘allegations’
WESTPORT — The principal of Kings Highway Elementary School is still out on paid administrative leave while the district reviews unspecified allegations, schools Human Resources Director John Bayers said Thursday.
“She’s not back yet,” Bayers said, noting Principal Mary Lou DiBella has been on “paid leave without prejudice.”
DiBella’s absence, now almost three weeks, has far exceeded the few days noted in Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer’s email to families on Jan. 28.
“More often than not when someone’s out on paid leave, the person who is in charge is not casting any judement. They’re in the middle of reviewing something and while they do that person is out on paid leave,” Bayer said.
DiBella and several staff members were placed on paid administrative leave for unspecified allegations in late January, “while the District reviews allegations regarding recent events,” Palmer wrote. Palmer did not provide any additional information on the nature of the events.
“You always have goals of what you’re hoping things will take and sometimes they take longer,” Bayers said. “At the end of the day, it’s important reviews are done in a very prudent manner and that you make sure you’ve completed the process. You can always have a set of goals, but you need to make sure you’re doing due diligence when following through on something.”
Although Westport Public Schools has not provided details on the allegations, Westport Now reported on Feb. 5 that they stem from a complaint filed with the state regarding an incident in which a 6-year-old special needs student was restrained, according to a parent reportedly familiar with the matter.
DiBella started as head of Kings Highway in 2016 following 11 years as an elementary school principal in Massachusetts.
Assistant Principal Tracey Carbone is in charge of the school for now, and school administration has taken steps to minimize disruptions resulting from staff absence, Palmer wrote in the emails.
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