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Suspended J-E principal barred from school board meetings

Jordan-Elbridge Principal David Zehner, suspended by the district in September, received a letter from Jordan-Elbridge Interim Superintendent Larry Zacher yesterday barring him from all future school board meetings or any other activity or function on school property.

Zehner said Zacher admonished him for causing "substantial disruption" at school board meetings by speaking out against the board and individual members and attempting to call attention to what he saw as unfair practices by the board, violations of Open Meetings Law, and consistent failure to follow its own policies and procedures. Zehner must receive written permission from the interim superintendent before entering school grounds.

Zacher said he made the decision based on the district's code of conduct, which he felt Zehner had violated.

"The conduct that has been occurring at these board meetings is not acceptable," Zacher said. He declined to comment on the details of the letter delivered to Zehner, and expressed frustration that the decision had been released by Zehner and his attorney, Dominick D'Imperio.

"This is an action taken by the school district with a suspended employee and it was meant to be a private exchange of information between the district and Zehner," Zacher said.

Zehner defended his actions that led to Zacher's decision in a prepared response to the interim superintendent's letter.

"Though I have put my reputation and livelihood at risk, I cannot remain silent when I feel that clear violations of the law and of district policy have occurred and continue to occur ... I had always hoped and I still continue to hold out hope that by pointing out these wrongs, the board (or at least certain members of the board) would realize these grave mistakes, do the right thing, and attempt to correct them."

Zehner said his decisions to take the school board to court were not made without serious contemplation.

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