The Board of Education unanimously terminated Michael Moore as the high school principal, as of Dec. 31. The meeting was held Tuesday night in the district auditorium to accommodate a large crowd.
The board stated that evaluations given by former Superintendent James Coon and Interim Superintendent Charles Pegan were the reasons for its action. Moore had been hired more than two years ago and was still a probationary employee. He would have been eligible for tenure in August, 2003. Coon had suggested an additional year for further evaluation of Moore's performance.
The board spent 90 minutes of the meeting listening to 33 speakers, including current and former students. They praised Moore and said he helped them in various ways. Several students said he was "always there for us."
Speakers asked the board to reconsider its termination decision. Only two speakers disagreed. Linda Bradigan of Whitacre Road said the evaluation "showed problems with the relationship with the staff." Another resident said Moore did not treat her courteously and "yelled at her in his office."
Coon's evaluation of Moore was printed in last Sunday's edition of the Dunkirk Observer.
Moore told the board, "Not one kid is disposable. I am not perfect. I made mistakes, but I helped and encouraged the kids to do their best."
"I fear a budget defeat if the community is angry with the dismissal," warned Sam Conti of Route 83..
Others in the audience of about 300 wanted to know which board members would be up for election. "We'll get rid of all of you," shouted one audience member.
Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said the high school position would be filled on an interim basis and a full-scale search would be held.