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Edwards-Knox holds off on replacing terminated principal

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RUSSELL — Officials in the Edwards-Knox Central School District don’t plan to hire a new high school principal this school year because they want a larger pool of candidates to apply for the job.

A replacement is needed for Michelle J. Varian, who was terminated from the principal’s job during a Board of Education meeting Jan. 28.

Despite receiving letters of support from the public on Mrs. Varian’s behalf, board members voted 9-0 to remove her from the $81,291-a-year job.

Although her termination date is March 28, Mrs. Varian has not worked since mid-December, when she was placed on paid administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.

Contacted by telephone, Mrs. Varian said she felt “discouraged” by the board’s decision.

A reason for the firing was not provided in the letter she received following the board meeting.

“I don’t have any recourse,” Mrs. Varian said, noting she does not have tenure status, which offers employment protection. “At this point, I’m interviewing for new positions at other places.”

Although she would not discuss details, Mrs. Varian said the situation that led to her termination involved Superintendent Suzanne L. Kelly.

“This is between myself and Sue Kelly,” she said. “The problems were there before I came, and they will be there after I leave.”

Before coming to Edwards-Knox in 2010, Mrs. Varian was employed at Rocky Mount Preparatory School in North Carolina.

She said she has lined up two interviews, one at a private school in North Carolina and one in another part of New York state.

Ms. Kelly said high school science teacher Amy L. Sykes will work as an administrative intern in the high school principal’s office. Her teaching duties have been assigned temporarily to Russell C. Koster, a substitute.

Duties Mrs. Sykes isn’t allowed to handle because of restrictions in her teachers union contract will be handled by Ms. Kelly and elementary school Principal Amy L. Lamitie.

The district is advertising for a chemistry and physics teacher to replace Mrs. Sykes for the remainder of the school year.

However, the principal job won’t be advertised any time soon, Ms. Kelly said in an email message.

“We will not be posting the principal position at this time as we feel there would be a stronger candidate pool at the end of the school year instead of midstream,” she said.

The board meets again at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the media center.

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