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Mancos principal, staffer put on administrative leave

Superintendent Hanson says move was due to dishonesty

A Mancos school principal and another staff member were given two-day leaves of absence on Oct. 16, according to district Superintendent Brian Hanson.

In an interview with The Journal on Oct. 25, Hanson said high school principal Adam Priestley and food services director Janet Fogel were both put on leave on Oct. 16 and asked to return to work on Oct. 18. Priestley, who is also the football coach, did not return until the following Monday, Oct. 23, but both staff members have returned to work. Hanson said the district has no plans for further disciplinary action.

Hanson said on Oct. 30 that he kept no written records about the disciplinary actions, adding, “That’s not my style.” He said he verbally placed them on leave because the two had been dishonest with him regarding a relationship they’d had during the summer.

“I have two expectations for my department heads,” Hanson said. “Expectation one is loyalty: I expect them to be loyal to me. Expectation two is honesty.”

He said his policy is to take disciplinary action whenever a department head breaks one of those rules. But he said he had discussed the issue with both staff members and didn’t believe it would be a problem in the future. He decided not to pursue further action, he said, because neither staff member had done anything illegal or harmed students, other staff members or school property.

“The issue’s been taken care of, it’s been dealt with, it’s behind us, and we’re moving on,” he said.

The disciplinary move sparked rumors in the district. An anonymous letter was mailed on Oct. 23 to the district office, the school board and The Journal that accused Priestley of misconduct and criminal behavior. The letter offered no sources or proof for its claims, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said it has no record that Priestley has been arrested. Hanson called the letter “slanderous” and said he planned to pursue legal action against its author if he found out who wrote it.

In the week since the disciplinary action, several people in the Mancos school district contacted The Journal with concerns about Priestley and Fogel and Hanson’s decision to leave them on staff. None were willing to go on the record, citing fear of retaliation.

Priestley said he regretted allowing mistakes in his personal life to affect his position as a role model in the school, and said he hoped to make it right in the future.

“There are a lot of great things going on here, and I’d hate for my personal life to overshadow all the positives,” he said.

Fogel did not respond to requests for comment.

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