Milton School District can't conceal pay details: Lawyer
MILTON The Milton School District has no legal basis to withhold information about whether Superintendent Mike Garrow is being paid while on leave, a media attorney told The Gazette on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Garrow is still mum about the situation.
"There should be no question that the public is entitled to know whether he is being unpaid or if he's sitting at home with taxpayers paying for it," said Bob Dreps, a Madison attorney who advises media on records and access issues.
School Board President Rob Roy refused Monday to tell reporters whether Garrow is being compensated during an approved leave of absence that started Oct. 15 and the board and Garrow agreed Monday to extend to June 30, 2013.
Garrow spoke briefly with a Gazette reporter outside his home on Tuesday night, but he declined to say whether he is being paid while he remains on leave. He also declined to comment on whether he intends to return to work in the district when his leave expires.
"It's undetermined at this point," Garrow said.
Garrow would not give specific details about the terms of his ongoing leave, but he said that he does not have employment outside of the district.
Garrow said there is much that he'd like to say but he can't at this time.
"I really can say I've appreciated the support of the community while working with the schools and the working with our staff," Garrow said Tuesday.
In a written statement the board released Monday, Garrow made references to family and personal issues tied to his father's recent death.
He noted that amid that turmoil, he'd taken into account that "life is short," and that "we should live each day to the fullest." Garrow wrote that the board "has decided to grant me leave so that I may continue to pursue my dreams—helping others to grow, learn and become leaders."
The Gazette on Tuesday filed an open records request with district officials seeking to obtain records that would show whether Garrow has been paid since his leave began Oct. 15.
In the request, The Gazette also asked for records outlining the board and Garrow's agreement for his ongoing leave, as well as records relating to his request for leave.
The Gazette in addition requested Garrow's full employment contract as well as performance evaluation materials for Garrow since he started work in the district in 2011.
Dreps cited a 1994 state appeals court decision that upheld the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's right to access a legal settlement struck between Shorewood School Board and a former Shorewood Schools superintendent.
That case rests on state open records law that gives the public access to all public records except under a narrow set of circumstances.
Under state law, Garrow's pay status in the district is not classified, private information, Dreps said.
"It's not sensitive information whether you're being paid or not. It's not like it's your health status," he said.