News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, April 11, 2013
Special education director placed on paid leave
To be replaced in June

by Jessica Brophy

The Union 76 Special Education Director, Joshua Nichols, was placed on paid leave in mid-February.

According to an email from Superintendent Mark Jenkins, Nichols was placed on paid leave for “personal reasons and by mutual agreement.” In a follow-up interview, Jenkins said Nichols wanted to go “in a different direction” in terms of his career. The roughly four-month term of paid leave was negotiated as a way to balance the agreement with Nichols’ contract, which was extended in 2012 through the 2013-14 school year. The Union 76 board approved the agreement in February.

Jenkins stressed that there was no precipitating incident or wrongdoing on the part of Nichols that led to the mutual agreement.

A new director of special education will be hired this June. When asked why the delay, Jenkins said most hiring for positions like these happens on a yearly cycle and it would be difficult to find someone this time of year. In the meantime, Jenkins said, other central office staff and the administrators at each building are “getting done what we have to get done to serve the kids.” Some long-term reporting and other non-essentials are being deferred until a new director is hired, he continued. He said it would not work long-term for him and the building principals to continue the responsibilities of the special education director position.

Nichols was hired in June of 2011. His salary for the year is approximately $70,000, which means a four-month paid leave will total more than $23,000, plus benefits.