J-E school board votes 9-0 to approve Sue Gorton’s retirement

— The Jordan-Elbridge school board tonight unanimously approved the retirement of Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Sue Gorton, who is also the district’s Committee on Special Education chair. Gorton’s retirement is effective Sept. 7, 2012.

“We will shortly begin the process of looking for a replacement for that position, and that position will remain a combination of the assistant superintendent and director of special education,” said J-E Superintendent James Froio at tonight’s school board meeting.

School board President Brian Richardson said keeping the special education portion of the job intact was very critical, “because that has such an impact on our federal reimbursement funds.”

Froio admitted that the combination of responsibilities for Gorton’s position is unique.

“That’s why when we go out for it, we’re going to spell it right out, [so] people know what they’re signing up for,” he told the Observer.

Gorton turns 55 in August, making her just eligible to retire in September.

Her tenure at JE comes to an end following some controversy. She was appointed JE Interim Superintendent on July 30, 2010, an appointment ruled void Oct. 1, 2010, by a State Supreme Court judge, who cited the district’s violation of open meetings law.

The suit was filed by tenured J-E Principal David Zehner, who was put on paid administrative leave Sept. 20, 2010. He told the Observer at the time that he suspected his suspension was in response to his suit against the board, because “they haven't given me any other reasons.”

Zehner, who is still suspended and was at tonight’s meeting, declined to comment on Gorton’s retirement. Gorton was not in attendance.

Froio thanked Gorton for her contributions to the district, and emphasized her work to negotiate an agreement between the district and the Jordan-Elbridge Teachers Association allowing the school board to adopt the annual professional performance review plan for 2011-12.

“That was due in part to the hours and hours of work that she dedicated towards that, along with the JETA leadership,” Froio said.

The adoption of the plan, approved 9-0 by the board tonight, makes the district eligible to receive $250,000 in competitive grant funding from the state one day before the Feb. 16 deadline. The funds, if awarded, will go toward the district’s Project Lead the Way program, Froio said.

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