Christina suspends middle school principal with ‘intent to terminate’

 Kirk Middle School Principal Brian Curtis was abruptly placed on leave recently. The district wants to fire him for undisclosed reasons. (Kyle Bressler/WHYY. Inset: Christina School District

Kirk Middle School Principal Brian Curtis was abruptly placed on leave recently. The district wants to fire him for undisclosed reasons. (Kyle Bressler/WHYY. Inset: Christina School District

A Delaware middle school principal was abruptly suspended days before classes end. The district wants to fire him but no reason has been made public. 

The Christina School District has suspended a Delaware middle school principal and are planning to fire him for suspected wrongdoing, sources familiar with the matter have told WHYY.

Brian Curtis, principal at Kirk Middle School near Newark, was abruptly placed on leave on June 2. Tuesday night, the Christina school board approved a “notice of termination” authorization against Curtis, sources said. Five of the seven board members voted yes.

Attempts to reach Curtis were unsuccessful.

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Curtis, a former state Department of Education and Cape Henlopen School District administrator who has been Kirk’s principal since February 2016, has been suspended with pay since June 2. His annual salary is $129,700.

“Mr. Curtis is on paid administrative leave and we will not provide any additional comments,” district spokeswoman Wendy Lapham wrote in an email in response to an inquiry from WHYY.

Board member George E. Evans,  who voted against removing Curtis, said he wouldn’t approve the authorization because the district only “gave us some vague information regarding what it is that “Curtis” is supports to have done or not done.” Evans said.

Asked what the suspected wrongdoing was, Evans said, “There are some of questions of his performance and I won’t know what these things are until they are done their investigation.”

District officials had previously notified parents about Curtis’ abruptly being placed on leave in a June 2 email, but did not specify the reasons. The email was sent by district administrator Noreen LaSorsa just 10 days before the school’s eighth-graders graduated. The school year ends today.

On Tuesday night, Curtis wasn’t named in the school board’s public meeting agenda. WHYY has learned, however, that his case was identified by a six-digit alphanumeric number and the case was discussed in the board’s non-public executive session before members voted publicly to terminate him.

Lapham would not comment on Tuesday’s vote.

Two school board members, president Elizabeth Paige and John M. Young, both of whom voted against naming him Kirk’s principal last year, would not discuss matters specifically involving Curtis, including what he is suspected of doing or why they authorized the district to move forward with his termination.

“On the man in question, I have no comment,” Paige said.

Added Young: “I am not in a position to discuss that actually. That is protected information at this time.”

The next step after authorizing the district’s intent to fire any employee is to give him the opportunity to request an appeal hearing, Paige said. If the decision is ultimately made to fire an employee, the board must also vote on that decision.

At the state level, where Curtis worked from 2011 until becoming Kirk’s principal, his last job was Deputy Officer in the School Turnaround Unit, a post that paid $98,600.

From 2002 to 2011, Curtis worked for Cape Henlopen — as principal at Milton and Marine middle schools and later as associate principal at Cape Henlopen High.

His LinkedIn account includes those positions, but does not mention his principal’s post at Kirk Middle School.

“At every stage of my career, my success and the success of those individuals and organizations with whom I worked rested solely on the ability to build rapport and trust with students, staff, parents, colleagues and community members,” Curtis wrote in his LinkedIn profile “Trust is critical to developing influence.”


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