TERRYVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) –The Plymouth School Board has asked Supt. Eleanor Cruz not come to work until further notice.
In a statement issued Thursday morning, Board Chairman Ray Engle said, “The Plymouth Board of Education is fully committed to addressing the matter of the superintendent’s employment as expeditiously as possible. However, in order to protect the school district, it is important that the Board comply with all legal requirements concerning this situation, including the provisions of the superintendent’s employment contract. For now, as board chair, I have directed the superintendent not to report to work until further notice,” he said. “Michael Santogotta, the District’s Business Manager, will be leading the district until further notice.”
“As a Board, we take this matter extremely seriously. We intend to address these issues promptly, thoroughly, and in compliance with all legal requirements. The best interests of our students, and of our community as a whole, will continue to be at the forefront of all our decisions and actions,” he added.
Eleanor Cruz is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the Hebron school district when she worked there as a superintendent and spending the money on clothes, Internet purchases, and other items: details that Plymouth board members said they didn’t know when they hired her.
Cruz turned herself in Aug. 7 to state police, and now she is facing larceny charges. She is free now on a $6,000 cash bond. At Wednesday’s school board meeting, parents had hoped Cruz’s arrest would lead to her losing her job. Instead, the board decided they needed more time before they could take action.
“I just think it’s disgusting,” said a parent with a child in the Plymouth school district. “I just think this is the time that the board could have rectified the problem and they chose not to.”
After waiting for more than 90 minutes while the Plymouth school board left the meeting to have an impromptu executive session to decide the superintendent’s fate, the board chairman didn’t deliver the news parents wanted to hear. Instead a board member read a statement telling parents they will be working with legal counsel to conduct a review of Cruz’s actions and they will also determine if she should be placed on paid administrative leave during their investigation.
“This board is acting irrationally,” said Brian Ireland, a Plymouth parent. “Step up to the plate and take some action.”
The Hebron school district said in a statement that they have recovered about $9,000 of the money Cruz is accused of embezzling, through their insurance policy.
(Terryville is a section of Plymouth.)