The principal of St. Regis Schools remains on paid administrative leave and in the dark about why she’s there.
Attorneys for Tammy Demien on Monday sent a letter to the Montana School Boards Association objecting to that group’s role as third-party investigator into the unspecified charges.
“The MSBA works for the school district as its legal counsel, and in other capacities, including the role of investigator,” the letter from Jasper, Smith and Olson P.C. of Missoula reads. “Moreover, we are aware that the MSBA is currently being sued in Lewis and Clark County because of alleged negligence in the investigation of a complaint against a superintendent.”
Demien, in her third year as principal at St. Regis, was suspended with pay and escorted from the school on Aug. 6.
Superintendent Janet Hanson claims she’s following protocol by not revealing the nature of the complaint against Demien, even to Demien, “for the protection of all involved.”
Hanson said Monday the MSBA’s investigation is in progress. Demien has not been interviewed, according to her attorney, Lance Jasper.
“The school district’s failure to notify Ms. Demien of the charges against her is causing her severe emotional distress, among other damages for which she is entitled to compensation,” the letter from Jasper’s firm said.
Demien intends to cooperate with a neutral investigator when she is notified of the nature of the complaint, said the letter.
“A reference to a paragraph in her contract tells her nothing. The paragraph you cited simply refers to her duties as the school principal. That encompasses every possible aspect of her job.”
Demien is willing to be interviewed by a neutral investigator after she receives “detailed notice” of the complaint or charges against her, Jasper’s letter said. Alternatively, she’ll respond in writing to written questions by a neutral investigator.
In the letter, Demien demanded that personnel at St. Regis School District preserve all evidence relating to her suspension. Emails and other documents sent to or by Hanson, school board members and teacher Teresa Wilson that mention Demien’s suspension or other information related to the allegations against her must not be destroyed, the letter said.
“If these documents and other evidence are not preserved, Ms. Demien will seek all remedies available to her for the spoliation of evidence,” the letter to MSBA said.
The letter’s reference to the case in Lewis and Clark County was to a complaint filed in May by Lewis Reese, who was suspended as superintendent at Judith Gap in February and fired in May. The defendants include the Judith Gap school board and the Helena-based Montana School Boards Association.
Among the suit’s allegations are that an MSBA investigator broadened the original scope of the investigation without board authorization and failed to include in her final report favorable information resulting from interviews with witnesses.
Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at 523-5266 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.