2007-05-10 / News

Halley accepts buyout offer

By Donna K. Drago

Dr. James Halley, the embattled head of the North Kingstown school district will take a buyout of his remaining contract rather than pursue a lawsuit against the North Kingstown School Committee.

The NK school panel, at their May 3 executive session, voted 4 to 3 to pay Halley the remainder of his contract, which is up Dec. 31 of this year. Additionally, Halley will receive healthcare benefits through June 30, 2008, as well as accumulated vacation and sick time.

Jamestown's liaison to the North Kingstown School Committee, William "Bucky" Brennan, said he was not at the closed session meeting where the vote took place because the Jamestown school board was meeting at the same time.

Brennan, who has often expressed frustration with members of what he calls a "dysfunctional" school panel across the bay, said, "They should have never gotten to where they were with the whole thing." He added, "They had to buy him out because the lawsuit he (Halley) filed would have cost them a bunch more on top of what they (the school panel) have directly cost North Kingstown and indirectly Jamestown."

Jamestown school panel chairwoman Cathy Kaiser said, "I have had the opportunity to work with Jim Halley on numerous South County initiatives as well as in his role as district leader. I respect Jim, wish him well and thank him for contributing to the strong foundation from which North Kingstown can move forward."

Kaiser said, "Obviously, whenever there is top-level change, one has to be concerned about a shift in district priorities or mission. Jamestown is a stakeholder and as such we will closely monitor developments as the NK school district regroups."

Despite the controversy, Kaiser added, "We have unwavering faith in the commitment of the high school administration and teachers to continue to deliver high quality instruction to all NKHS students," including those from Jamestown.

Currently, Jamestown sends 213 teens to North Kingstown High School at a cost of just over $2 million per year.

Halley had announced some time ago that he would retire at the end of his contract. Prior to his resignation, he had been on paid leave since the NK school committee learned from the Rhode Island Department of Education that he had allegedly misspent some $245,000 in special education funds on nonspecial education items.

Just last year, Dr. Halley was named Rhode Island Superintendent of the Year.

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