Two assistant principals at a Maryland high school are on leave following allegations that they were drinking alcohol at a prom, a school district official said Thursday.
Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesman John White confirmed that the district was aware of and investigating accusations that Northwestern High School assistant principals Christopher Burrows and Patricia Duffy were drinking at the event.
“When allegations are made, we investigate,” White said. “And investigations are obviously a confidential personnel matter, so I’m not able to discuss details.”
A letter to parents was posted on the school’s website.
“We are committed to ensuring the continuation of an academic focus for the remaining weeks of school,” states the letter, which did not include details of the allegations.
WTTG-TV first reported the allegations and the actions taken against the administrators. The station reported that Burrows and Duffy were supposed to be chaperons at the school dance, which it reported was held in May at a hotel.
A third Northwestern High official, principal Carlene Murray, was also placed on leave, according to White and the letter to parents, although the circumstances that prompted that decision were even murkier. Murray has not been accused of drinking, according to White.
“Ms. Murray is on leave with pay for another matter,” White wrote in an email. “That is really as much information as I can provide.”
The three employees of the Hyattsville, Md., school are being paid while on leave, which White said is standard practice while allegations are investigated. Another assistant principal, Phalena Washington, will serve as lead administrator as the school year winds down, according to the letter to parents.
“We just want the investigation to be thorough and transparent. You’re talking about people’s reputations and lives,” said Doris Reed, executive director of the Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel. “So we want it to be thorough and transparent. Because we want people to be cleared if it turns out there’s nothing to the allegations.”
Murray, Burrows and Duffy did not immediately return emails, sent to their work accounts, seeking comment Thursday. Attempts to reach them by telephone were unsuccessful.
“We just want to make sure that people are treated fairly and their reputations aren’t unjustly ruined,” said Reed, whose association is a union representing school administrators and supervisors.