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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Long Lots Principal on ‘Paid Administrative Leave’ After Asserting ‘Legal Claims’

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Jeffrey Golubchick welcomed students back to school in September. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

UPDATE Long Lots Elementary School Principal Jeffrey M. Golubchick has been placed on “paid administrative leave without prejudice” because of letters his attorney sent to teachers and subordinate administrators “asserting legal claims against them,” Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said today.

Palmer’s late Saturday afternoon email explanation to parents followed one on Friday informing them of action against Golubchick, 36, who has been principal since July 1, 2015. He earlier served as assistant principal at Saugatuck Elementary.

After the Friday email, a Long Lots parent who asked to remain anonymous said Palmer’s “zero explanation to the community … has made many of the parents up in arms.”

“Today I am able to share some additional information which I believe will answer many of the questions that you may have regarding my initial communication to you yesterday,” Palmer said in her latest email.

“Mr. Golubchick’s attorney has sent letters to a select group of teachers and subordinate administrators asserting legal claims against them, including personal liability, which some recipients found upsetting.

“In order for the district to properly review the impact of these letters on the operation of the school, Mr. Golubchick has been placed on paid administrative leave, without prejudice.”

The superintendent did not give any more details about what was behind the letters. A legal source not involved in the matter speculated that the principal had the letters sent in response to something he did not like that he believed the teachers or subordinate administrators had done or said. 

Palmer said the administration has hired Michael Cicchetti, as interim principal beginning Monday. 

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Michael Cicchetti: named interim principal. Contributed photo

The 62-year-old resident of Farmington served under Palmer as interim principal at Weston’s Hurlbutt Elementary School and has held superintendent and other senior positions in numerous other Connecticut school districts. Before taking over July 1 from Elliott Landon, Palmer was superintendent in Weston.

In an email response to WestportNow asking for comment on the Long Lots situation, Palmer said tonight: “While we work through the issues at hand, our focus remains on ensuring that our students of Long Lots Elementary School continue to prosper in a nurturing learning environment without distraction. 

“The Long Lots team of dedicated professionals will welcome our interim principal, Dr. Michael Cicchetti, when we open our doors on Monday, and the daily work of the school will continue seamlessly.”

Palmer said in her Saturday email to parents that some parents have asked for guidance on how to address the absence of a principal. 

“A simple way to address this leave with young children is to say that ‘Mr. Golubchick is okay and taking care of some business away from school right now,’” she said.

“Our students routinely deal with leaves of staff members for many reasons, and your supportive words will go a long way to allay any concerns they may have.  However, never hesitate to reach out to the school if you feel we can be helpful in any way at this time.”

A parent said Golubchick was present Wednesday but after the snow day on Thursday, he was not present when school resumed Friday.

Palmer said in the Friday email that parents will have several opportunities to meet the interim principal.

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Jeffrey Golubchick: previously served as Saugatuck assistant principal. Contributed photo

Meanwhile, she said Julie Droller, director of elementary education, and assistant Long Lots principals Megan Clarke and Molly Farrell “will continue their dedicated work to support the effective operations of the school.”

Palmer concluded her email by saying: “If and when we have further updates regarding the leave of Mr. Golubchick, we will update you.

“However, in the meantime, our Westport team will ensure that Long Lots Elementary School does not miss a beat and every school day is productive and full of joy for your child.”

Prior to joining Saugatuck, Golubchick, a native New Yorker, had been director of elementary humanities at North Shore Schools in Sea Cliff, N.Y. and assistant principal at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, N.Y., according to a school announcement by Landon upon his appointment at Long Lots.

He began his career as a teacher in a student-diverse elementary school in New York City, it said.

His educational background includes a BFA in printmaking and a BA in scenography from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo; an MFA in theater arts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; an MA in education from Hunter College in New York City; and, an MA in educational leadership from Brooklyn (N.Y.) College.

In announcing Golubchick’s appointment, Landon said: “Mr. Golubchick will bring to Long Lots a strategic vision that is consistent with our efforts to build a strong student community that is proficient with the essential 21st century capacities of critical thinking, creativity, communication, and global thinking within the framework of civic, social and ethical behaviors.”

—James Lomuscio contributed reporting.

This story has been updated to correct the age and residency of the new interim principal.

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Posted 02/11/17 at 06:29 PM  Permalink



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