By Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven School District’s sixth grade Spanish teacher Basil Henning is officially off administrative leave and headed back to the classroom.
Without mentioning his name or discussing why Henning was placed on leave from his job at Knollwood School, effective Feb. 15, Superintendent Nelson Ribon addressed the capacity crowd at the onset of Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting with the news.
“While the situation continues to be investigated, we are satisfied up to this point that a resolution is on tonight’s agenda to end this administrative leave,” Ribon said at the beginning of his superintendent’s report.
Concerning the decision to place this “staff member” on leave, Ribon said that “based on the information obtained up to that point in reference to the rights of that employee and the health and safety of the children, appropriate action was taken on one of our staff members, which was to place that person on administrative leave.”
Ribon thanked parents for their numerous correspondences as well as “patience and understanding to allow the process to run its course” in the 10 days Henning was on leave.
While Ribon did not mention Henning’s name, nor did audience members, it was included in a *correspondence that was sent out to parents on the Sunday evening of Feb. 15 when the leave decision was made.
The 10 days of correspondences he mentioned coincide with Henning’s leave — starting on Feb. 15 and ending after the resolution passed to end the leave at the Feb. 25 board meeting. More specific information will be shared in the future when and if it can be; but, right now, “because this is a personnel matter, we cannot discuss at this meeting or in public.”
Rumson parent Andrea Clurfeld spoke in the stead of several people there seeking more information about the leave. She asked that the board speak to procedure only and if the passing of the specific resolution on the matter to end the administrative leave meant that this teacher would be back in the classroom immediately.
“Yes,” Ribon and board members answered.
And just to clarify, Ribon said, “This was administrative leave, with salary and benefits (intact) … This was not a suspension. That is entirely different.”
Henning’s salary was listed in the April 18, 2013 Fair Haven Board of Education agenda as $49,787. Hired for the 2011-12 school year, Henning was one of 18 non-tenured staff members offered tenure for the 2013-14 year, the agenda item said.
*The letter sent out to parents on Feb. 15 read as follows:
On Sunday, February 15, 2015, Ribon, Nelson < RibonN@fairhavenbe.org> wrote:
Dear Parents & Guardians,
I am writing to inform you that Mr. Basil Henning, a Knollwood School staff member, has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately. We are taking the proper steps to ensure that appropriate coverage is put into place.
Since this is a personnel matter, information regarding this cannot be discussed or shared with the public by our administration or BOE members, nor will it be a part of the public portion of our upcoming Board of Education meeting. If and when it is legally permissible and appropriate, information would be disseminated.
Thank you for your time.