Release:?Complaints led to paid leave

ST. JOHNSVILLE – Administrators at two local school districts placed on paid administrative leave of absence Thursday were the subject of complaints sent to the head of HFM BOCES, a news release said.

The release did not reveal the nature of the complaints, only that they were not related to students or financial improprieties.

Oppenheim-Ephratah Superintendent Dan Russom and St. Johnsville’s D.H. Robbins Elementary School Principal Christopher Fatta were placed on leave Thursday.

The move came after Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Patrick Michel received complaints Wednesday, the release said.

Michel interviewed staff members in both school districts, the release said. Information gathered in those interviews led to Russom and Fatta being placed on paid leave while investigations continue, the release said.

“Members of the Oppenheim-Ephratah board feel strongly that the allegations made against Mr. Russom in no way should detract from his past accomplishments as an educator and administrator,” Michel said in the release. “However, the board also recognizes that his recent actions have compromised his ability to be an effective leader for our schools.”

The Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School Board of Education on Thursday appointed Michel to acting superintendent.

St. Johnsville Superintendent Laura Campione-Lawrence will oversee the district’s elementary school, the release said.

Fatta, who had been principal at Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School, began working at St. Johnsville in January 2012.

Russom had previously expressed interest in serving as the superintendent for the merging Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville school district.

The decision on the merged district’s superintendent is expected to be made after the seven new school board members are elected March 19.