School District of Milton Administrator Michael Garrow will be on an “approved leave of absence” through the end of the school year, the board of education announced Monday night.
The Milton Board of Education met for nearly two hours in executive session before reconvening to authorize the issuance of a press release regarding Garrow’s leave. The press release said the board and Garrow “mutually agreed” he would remain on leave through June 30, 2013.
Garrow has been on leave since mid-October.
In the press release, Garrow said his father died recently, “creating a void” in his family and “personal, family issues continuing on to this day.”
“However, this unfortunate event has also allowed time for reflection,” Garrow wrote. “I have had the opportunity to consider what is truly important, as well as to take into account that ‘life is short’ and that we should live each day to the fullest – pursuing our dreams.
“… 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,” he continued. “I appreciate this chance, and plan to use this opportunity in a way that will help me and others in future growth and learning experiences.”
School board president Rob Roy declined to say if Garrow would be paid during his leave of absence.
“I can’t tell you any more than what’s in the (press) release,” Roy said. “It’s a personnel matter and we don’t comment. That’s all that I can tell you.”
Attorney Bob Dreps of the Godfrey & Kahn law firm in Madison – who advises Wisconsin media outlets on open record matters – said there is nothing that legally prohibits the school district from disclosing if Garrow is being paid during his leave of absence. The Milton Courier filed an open records request at the School District of Milton Central Office on Tuesday morning formally seeking that information.
“The open records law would compel it,” Dreps said. “The taxpayers of any community have a right to know how their money is being spent … I don’t think this is even a close call.”
Prior to Monday’s executive session meeting, the school board met four times – Sept. 24, Oct. 8, Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 – to discuss “District Administrator Evaluation,” according to posted agendas. The board’s human resources committee also met in executive session on Nov. 2 to discuss the evaluation.
Roy said Monday night was the first time the board met to discuss the leave of absence, which was posted as “District Administrator Employment.”
“The previous meetings have been part of the regular evaluation process of the superintendent,” Roy said. “They just happened to coincide.”
Meanwhile, the board announced in the press release that steps have been taken to make sure administrative duties are completed during Garrow’s absence. The board intends to appoint an interim district administrator “without delay.”
Garrow began his role as Milton’s district administrator on July 1, 2011, according to Courier archives. He replaced Bernie Nikolay, who served as the district administrator for three years before accepting the superintendent position in Cambridge, his hometown. Garrow served as the principal of Mount Horeb High School for five years before coming to Milton.
In the press release, Garrow said he has enjoyed his time working as Milton’s district administrator and he “appreciated the opportunity to lead the District.”
“The teaching staff with whom I have had the opportunity to work has been wonderful; working extremely hard to provide quality learning for our students,” Garrow wrote. “My own gain in experience with the District is something that I hope has been to the benefit of staff members, as well as to the benefit of our most valuable commodities – our children!”