BELLVILLE -- The Clear Fork Valley Local Schools board of education has officially terminated former Bellville Elementary Principal Kirsten DeVito.
The board passed a resolution terminating her contract, effective Friday, during a special meeting Thursday night. The resolution listed eight reasons that the board had “good and just cause” to terminate DeVito.
These reasons included DeVito’s actions related to teacher observations, evaluations and use of teacher signatures.
DeVito was placed on unpaid leave in September 2018 following an investigation into allegations that she had improperly handled evaluations and used teachers' signatures without their knowledge.
“Questionable evaluation forms resulted in a personnel file investigation, which results in discovering numerous issues associated with the evaluation of Bellville teachers that were prepared by Mrs. DeVito,” read the minutes from a board meeting on Sept. 19, 2018.
DeVito requested a private hearing with a referee through her legal counsel. Referee Ronald E. Alexander released his report and recommendation in July 2020, according to Thursday’s resolution.
Alexander found the board proved “by clear and convincing evidence” that DeVito had cut and taped or stapled teachers’ signatures without their knowledge or approval, used teachers’ signatures without their knowledge or approval and asked a teacher to sign a blank document.
Also on Thursday, the board approved a three-year contract for treasurer Bradd Stevens, effective Aug. 1.
The contract included a raise, but board member Carl Gonzalez made a motion to amend the contract, allowing for the board to consider increasing Stevens’ compensation at a later date.
“I believe that the contract’s lacking in allowances for his salary given how important he is to the district and how important he’s proved himself to be in the past,” Gonzalez said. “I think we’re falling short here. Actually it’s embarrassing, considering what he’s contributed.”
President Gary McCue affirmed Stevens’ work, but stated that he was happy with the contract before the board.
“I’m absolutely willing to discuss it over the next few months, but we’ve done our due diligence, we’ve worked on this for the last four months and I feel very good about where we are,” McCue said.
Board member Ryan Knuckles also vouched for the proposed contract, adding that the board has been working on it since November.
“We feel like it's very fair to him and fair to our district in these times,” Knuckles said. “This is a very aggressive raise for the Valley and for him and I think we’re all proud of the work that we have put in.”
The board ultimately approved the contract in a 5-0 vote. A copy of the contract was not immediately available.
The board also approved:
An amended administrative salary schedule beginning with the 2021-2022 school year
An emergency authorization to replace the heating boiler at Bellville Elementary School
The resignation of cafeteria employee Diane Pyle, effective Feb. 11
The suspension of cafeteria manager Jodi Kline and food service cashier and bus driver Suzanne Keller, effective immediately