HINTON — A former Hinton Public Schools administrator, who left his job shortly before an investigation uncovered numerous testing violations at the district, was paid more than $96,000 after he resigned, records show.
Patrick Duffy, the rural district's former superintendent, resigned June 15 as numerous testing violations within the district were being investigated by the state Education Department.
The district's former testing coordinator, Cheryl Garrison, resigned during a recent school board meeting.
As a result of the Education Department's inquiry, 15 current and former Hinton High School students will have end-of-instruction exam scores invalidated.
Students still in Hinton schools will have to retake the exams, current Superintendent Richard Brownen said, while those already in college “will be held harmless” by the Education Department.
Brownen said about 170 district students take end-of-instruction exams, meaning nearly 10 percent of test-taking students were affected by the infractions.
According to Hinton Public Schools, Duffy was paid $96,393.76 after resigning as part of a settlement. That is the amount of his contract, signed in January, for this school year.
Duffy, now an assistant principal at Jefferson Middle School in Oklahoma City, said his resignation had nothing to do with the testing infractions. He said he complied with the Education Department's request for information related to the testing investigation but never heard anything further.
When contacted by The Oklahoman in August, Duffy said he had “no earthly idea” why education officials were investigating Hinton schools.
“Prior to receiving the data quality assurance check letter from the state Department of Education … my relationship with members on the Hinton Board of Education had reached a point where my resignation was forthcoming based on the best interest of the students of Hinton Schools,” he said. “(It had) nothing to do with testing irregularities.”
Duffy's contract with Hinton Public Schools states he was to work as superintendent from July 1, 2012, to June 13, 2013, to receive compensation. It says nothing about him receiving a year's salary should he resign before the dates of employment specified in the contract.
According to the contract's terms, he quit about two weeks before his new salary was to go into effect.
“My resignation as superintendent of Hinton schools was due to no longer being a unifying leader for the Hinton Board of Education and our inability to work as a team for the best interests of the students and community,” Duffy said. “My vision and goals for the district no longer aligned with all the members on the board.”
Ken Spady, Hinton Board of Education president, could not be reached for comment. Other board members did not return phone messages.
Spady was listed as a reference on the employment application Duffy submitted to Oklahoma City Public Schools, dated May 24. Board member Steve Murray and former member Marsha Craddick also were listed.
Former testing coordinator Garrison will be paid about $28,000 between now and the end of the calendar year, according to her resignation agreement. The agreement also states the school district will not contest any unemployment claims made by Garrison during the school year. Garrison could not be reached to comment on this story.
Effects are unclear
While teachers are required to be certified in Oklahoma, superintendents and other administrators are required to have additional certification to serve in management roles for school districts.
The Education Department's findings include a laundry list of infractions related to the district's end-of-instruction testing procedures.
According to Hinton school officials, the district's testing activities will be monitored by the Education Department for the rest of the school year.
Brownen said the district was told by Education Department officials that “the invalidated scores arose … from how testing procedures and security were enforced” during exams. Infractions included improper documentation reported to the state, testing materials improperly secured before and after testing, and inadequate training of testing personnel, he said.
Education Department spokeswoman Tricia Pemberton said it's not clear how the testing infractions uncovered in Hinton will affect certification statuses of Duffy and Garrison.
“We are reviewing the files and evidence to determine whether board action is necessary,” she said.