Royle principal resigns just before school start
Royle School Principal Dean Ketchum has resigned his position just before the start of the school year, according to an announcement from Schools Superintendent Alan Addley.
Though the announcement told parents he had resigned “as of Friday, Aug. 16,” a separation agreement obtained by The Darien Times via a Freedom of Information request shows his official resignation date as Aug. 31.
However, according to the agreement, Ketchum was relieved of his administrative duties as of the date of the agreement, Aug. 15, and will remain on paid administrative leave through Aug. 31. Unpaid vacation time in the amount of $10,342.15 will be included in his final paycheck.
The seven-page agreement includes the stipulation that “Mr. Ketchum acknowledges that he would not be entitled to compensation or other consideration described in this agreement if Mr. Ketchum did not enter into this agreement.”
Among the considerations Ketchum agreed to included agreeing that:
He is not entitled to any other payments or compensation outside the agreement
He will not seek any further employment with the Darien Board of Education “in any capacity at any time” and the agreement allows the board to reject any such application
He “knowingly and voluntarily” releases the Board, the Board’s past and present and future members, employees, agents, attorneys, insurers, representatives and “any person acting on bhealf of or in concernt with any of them from any and all claims, as well as liabilities or any sort of damages, including emotional distress.
The list of “acts” that would be considered under the above claims included “any federal, state or local law.” Some of the more specific acts referenced included Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act, Connect Fair Employment Practices Act, Civil Rights Act of 1993, Connecticut Whistle Blowers Act, Age Discrimination Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The agreement does not exempt Ketchum or the school board from making disclosures required by law, such as the Freedom of Information Act.
He also agreed that he was advised to consult an attorney and given seven days to revoke the agreement.
Darien Human Resources Director Marjorie Cion said she could not comment on whether the agreement was standard or why Ketchum was put on leave before his resignation date because she “cannot comment on personnel matters.” Other than the agreement, there was nothing in Ketchum’s personnel file that related to his resignation, or any complaint or disciplinary action.
In Addley’s announcement, he told parents he had appointed Dr. Garan Mullin as the interim principal of Royle Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year. The position will be advertised early spring and a full search process will take place.
“Dr. Mullin is a successful and highly respected Darien administrator. She has been the assistant principal of Middlesex Middle School for two years. Prior to coming to Darien, Dr. Mullin was a special education central office administrator in Fairfield, CT,” Addley said.
Mullin’s appointment as interim principal leaves a vacancy at Middlesex. Addley said he will provide information on that vacancy as soon as possible.
Ketchum was appointed as Royle School principal as of July 1, 2016. Before Royle School, he was director of campus and elementary principal at Hunter College Campus School, a K-12 campus.
This is the second year Darien elementary school parents have been abruptly informed of a principal change just before the start of school.
Last August, interim Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon informed the Hindley School community “it is with sadness that I must report to you that your principal, DJ Colella, will be on leave at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year,” he said.
Colella was appointed as principal of Hindley School on the same day Ketchum was appointed at Royle, July 1, 2016. He replaced longtime Hindley principal Rita Ferri, under whose tenure Hindley was named a Blue Ribbon School.
Colella resigned at the end of September 2018 while still on paid leave, as an investigation into some complaints was ongoing.
Darien students return to school on Aug. 29.