2011-03-31 / Front Page

HLCS board puts Murphy on leave

By Cheryl Holladay

Houghton Lake Community Schools Superintendent Kevin Murphy has been placed on administrative leave, according to Board of Education President Dave Harned.

After coming out of a closed session during the March 28 regular meeting, the Houghton Lake Board of Education approved a motion, made by Vice-president Tom Dean, to “approve the resolution discussed in closed session.”

In a phone interview Tuesday, Harned said Murphy was placed on nondisciplinary paid administrative leave based on some concerns raised about his superintendency. Harned said not airing the details of the resolution during the meeting was intended to save Murphy embarrassment.

Harned said Attorney Ray Davis of the district’s law firm, Thrun Law Firm, East Lansing, was appointed to investigate the complaints.

According to the resolution, which the Resorter obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the resolution states that the “board has received complaints about the superintendent of the district,” and the board “has a duty to assure such complaints are investigated.”

The resolution does not specifically list the nature of the complaints. In a phone interview with the Resorter, Davis did not elaborate, but did say, “I’ve seen no allegations that are criminal in nature.”

The resolution directs Murphy to cooperate with the investigation and to refrain from deleting or altering any e-mail or other communications, including the computer and cell phone issued to him. The document states he is not to talk with potential witnesses, enter district property or attend district-related events without receiving permission from the board president or his designee.

Houghton Lake High School Principal Brent Cryderman, according to the resolution, was appointed “acting superintendent until further board action.”

In its mid-year evaluation in February, the board gave Murphy an overall rating of “satisfactory.” The evaluation was based on the categories of “shared vision” and “social context,” “culture of learning,” “management and ethics,” and “families and community.”

Harned said at the time that Murphy was rated very high for his community involvement and that “His ideas for the public forums have been well planned and appear to be well received.” Harned noted at that time that Murphy is “very task and goal oriented.” However, that strength can also be seen as a weakness without proper balance, he said.

Murphy’s work to establish S.M.A.R.T. (strategic and specific, measurable, attainable, results-based and time-bound) goals for himself, the staff and the board of education was recognized as a positive, Harned said at the time. “He has expressed his desire to mentor and coach his staff to accomplish new levels of instructional excellence.”

Murphy could not be reached for comment.

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