Kelly Nash, whose hiring as the Fox C-6 school district’s food services director when her mother-in-law was school board president two years ago set off a controversy, is back in the news. The Post-Dispatch reports that she has been placed on administrative leave (paid, of course). But why? The paper reminds us that:
As a condition of her hire, she was to earn a degree as a registered dietitian or get her nutrition specialist certification within two years at her own expense, district officials said at the time. Crutchley said he could not comment on whether she had met the requirement.
Fox CFO John Brazeal told Fox C-6 Watchdogs last month that:
Kelly Nash has completed her pre-requisites and has taken the certification test and the district is awaiting the test results.
Hmmm. I am actually hearing through the grapevine that Nash was initially fired, but that her status was then changed to paid administrative leave. What’s up with that?
Abuse of Admin Leave
So the question is, how long will Nash remain on paid vacation status? Her contract lasts through this June. Will it be that long?
We saw the district completely abuse the notion of administrative leave with disgraced former superintendent Dianne Critchlow. She spent five months on paid leave status because the board was too scared to fire her after she hired high-powered lawyer Chet Pleban.
Here’s an excerpt on administrative leave from a Government Accountability Office report. While this covers federal employees, the principles are relevant here (emphasis mine):
OPM [Office of Personnel Management] provides that while it is presumed that an employee will remain in a duty status during the advance notice period, in “rare circumstances” where the agency determines the employee’s presence in the workplace may pose a threat to the employee or others, result in loss of or damage to government property, or otherwise jeopardize legitimate government interests, the agency may elect from one or a combination of alternatives, including placing an employee on administrative leave for such time as necessary to effect the action.
[O]ur decisions have found granting administrative leave for lengthy periods of time is inappropriate unless it is in connection with furthering a function of the agency.
So, unless a person is a danger to employees or to the workplace, he or she should not be placed on long-term paid leave. If employees are being paid, they should do work, even if it is in a different position. Critchlow could have mowed lawns and cleaned up puke at the school. Nash can stand in the lunch line and scoop tater tots onto kids’ trays. Administrative leave is a crutch for leaders who don’t want to deal with bad employees. It is easier to send them home with pay rather than deal with them. But leaders are supposed to do the unpleasant tasks, not shirk them.