Guilderland school board upholds teacher transfer

The Guilderland Board of Education decided on Monday, July 14, not to overturn Superintendent John McGuire's decision to transfer social studies teachers Matt Nelligan and Ann Marie McManus to Farnsworth Middle School in a 7-to-2 vote.

The decision comes in the wake of a culture climate inquiry, conducted by consultant Michele Paludi for $5,000.

A redacted version of the report was made available on the Guilderland Board of Education's Web site at www.guilderlandschools.org. A version of a formal sexual harassment complaint was also released, indicating four people had been investigated.

"The Guilderland School Board's redacted reports released [Monday, July 15] are one-sided, filled with mysterious blackouts, and offer unsubstantiated claims instead of proof," said Nelligan in a written statement. "There's no proof for any of the claims made, and the claims are made by unnamed sources about unnamed alleged offenders."

Nelligan said legal action will follow the decision.

"We will see them in court," Nelligan said. "We are going to take every legal step we can take to make sure our reputation is cleared."

He reiterated that his transfer is a result of his critical comments of the board and the teachers union.

McManus said her name does not even appear in the culture climate inquiry and she does not deserve to be transferred.

The transfer will hurt the students the most, she said.

Paludi was hired because informal charges of sexual harassment had been made in December 2007, school board President Richard Weisz said.

Paludi interviewed teachers in the social studies department in an attempt to learn about the workplace environment, and a report was filed on Jan. 30.

Paludi recommended that the sexual harassment policy be distributed, with a letter from the superintendent stating his commitment to a harassment-free environment, and that, "discussions with teachers in the social studies department at the high school be held to resolve trust issues and foster a more welcoming environment for all teachers," said Weisz.

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