Polk superintendent to resign after seedy details surface

Kathryn LeRoy, file photo

POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — As details emerge about an investigation into whether Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy sexually harassed a subordinate, several Polk School board members admit they have lost faith and want LeRoy gone. LeRoy submitted a letter of resignation Friday afternoon.

LeRoy is asking for $119,800 in severance pay, in addition to another $113,517.19 in annuity payment. Read the entire resignation letter and proposal here.

The school board approved LeRoy’s proposal Friday evening.

LeRoy was cleared of any illegal wrongdoing by a firm hired to investigate complaints, but there are a lot of questions about the way she runs the school system and the way she acts.

The most sensational complaints come from Associate Superintendent of Operations Greg Rivers. Rivers claims LeRoy had several inappropriate conversations about him with another employee, “making comments such as “I wonder if he (has sex) hard.”

In an 1,800 page document released this week, Rivers told an investigator that on a 2014 business trip to Tallahassee the two were having drinks when LeRoy began touching him.

“She was trying to get me to stay in her room and I kept saying, ‘No,'” Rivers told an investigator. “When we got in the elevator to go down to our rooms, she was still trying to talk me into coming to her room. And then she attempted to kiss me. I pushed her away, and she was trying to get me to come to her room.”

A former school board member and Lakeland mayor, Frank O’Reilly, says the board knew about and let Rivers’ and LeRoy’s relationship fester.

“The only decision that they can make is to relieve the superintendent of her duties. That’s the only decision they can make,” O’Reilly said.

According to Rivers, his work environment grew hostile. “When I was not social with the superintendent then the superintendent would be, as I put it, irritated with me or I would be in the dog house,” Rivers told an investigator.

LeRoy denies any inappropriate behavior. She became school superintendent in Polk county in 2013. Under her guidance, 43 schools achieved a higher grade from the State Board of Education. She contends the investigation exonerated her of any wrongdoing.

Another complaint against the superintendent is that she does not value input from employees or appreciate their efforts.

Billy Townsend formed Citizens for Better Educational Leadership. “This report is just a crystallization of the way she manages. People have been hearing this for years and haven’t done anything about it and now it’s time to do something about it,” Townsend said.

Rivers also accused LeRoy of manipulation of the hiring process in order to create a position for a former romantic interest, with whom Rivers claims the superintendent said she had a four-year affair.

While the school board decides LeRoy’s fate, auditors continue looking into the purchase of a software system.

The school district has so far paid $885,000 for a system that was supposed to be up and running September 2015. Rivers claims LeRoy ignored staff recommendations and hired a vendor with whom she was familiar.

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