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As School Board meeting looms, supporters of fired media clerk await news on investigation


As School Board meeting looms, supporters of fired media clerk await news on investigation

Susan Riley
Susan Riley

Susan Riley

Update: On April 11, Superintendent David Dude said he does not expect the School Board will take any action regarding Susan Riley’s case during the board’s April 12 meeting.

“No, I don’t anticipate any action at the meeting regarding this matter,” Dude said.

He said he hopes the investigation will be wrapped up this week.

Here is the original story … 

In an interview given late last month, Decatur Schools Superintendent David Dude had indicated an investigation into the controversial firing of a beloved media clerk could be finished by March 25.

But over two weeks later, the status of Susan Riley’s employment remains in limbo. Riley has been on paid administrative leave since the uproar over her unexpected termination in February caused Dude to reconsider his decision.

On March 29, Decaturish asked Dude if he had any updates about the case.

“No, I don’t,” he said via email. An email sent to him on Friday, April 8, was not immediately answered. City Schools of Decatur’s offices are currently closed for Spring Break and will reopen on April 11.

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The School Board will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. There is a closed-door meeting on the agenda, called executive session, to discuss personnel issues and matters related to real estate. There’s no indication of whether Riley’s specific personnel issue will be discussed then.

Local attorney Tom Stubbs, who has been one of Riley’s most vocal advocates, said her supporters will be there on Tuesday. He suspects the board may discuss Riley’s case in executive session.

“I don’t know whether anyone will need to speak (during public comments) but we’re hoping to have a strong showing of continuing support for Susan,” Stubbs said. “We all know the school board and administration are aware of the breadth of support for Susan but we certainly want to take advantage of an opportunity reassert that.”

Riley and her attorney, David Hughes, have agreed not to discuss the case while the investigation is pending. CSD hired Jonathan Poole with Strickland Brockington Lewis to look into the matter. He is being paid $235 per hour for his services.

Riley wasn’t sure why she was fired. Her attorney, Hughes, alleged his client was fired for four reasons, including misappropriating school equipment, failing to adhere to a new job plan, inappropriately complaining about her coworkers’ alleged mistreatment of her and for discussing a human resources complaint into her allegations. School Board members have rebutted his accusations, but have declined to offer specifics.

Prior to the incident, Riley had worked at Decatur High for 19 years and was well-regarded by students and her colleagues. She was named a Decatur Hometown Hero in 2011.

When she received the Hometown Hero award, she was described as, “the heart of the school.”

“Students with no mothers of their own, students facing disciplinary problems, students unable to manage the stress of studies, in over their heads, or without a parent or friend to lean on go to Susan, who makes the media center at the high school – and especially her small office there – a haven where no one is judged, everyone is listened to, and all students are praised and encouraged,” the nomination accompanying the Hometown Hero award says.