The superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools placed the assistant principal at C.S. Porter Middle School on administrative leave this week, though the reasons why haven’t been disclosed.
MCPS spokesperson Hatton Littman on Tuesday confirmed that Bob Gearhart, assistant principal at the middle school, was placed on leave pending further investigation.
“The district is conducting an investigation around that and we don’t have any other information to release at this point,” Littman said Tuesday evening. “But I can confirm that he’s been placed on administrative leave.”
Gearhart formerly served as the principal at Washington Middle School. But in 2010, MCPS Superintendent Alex Apostle reassigned Gearhart to the assistant principal’s job at C.S. Porter amid a districtwide shakeup.
Placing Gearhart on leave marks the third time in roughly 80 days that a top MCPS administrator has been forced to step aside. It also marks the third time the district has protected the employee’s wrongdoings by labeling it a personnel issue.
In September, Sentinel High School Principal Tom Blakely and Assistant Principal Libby Oliver were also placed on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.
Two weeks later, Oliver was reassigned to Hellgate High School as assistant principal and Blakely resigned with pay and benefits intact.
The settlement agreement between MCPS and Blakely required that he retire at the conclusion of the school year, which ends in June. In return, he was offered the balance of his contract, an amount of $90,473.
Yet another administrator stepped down recently at a separate Missoula school district.
In early November, Target Range School Principal Luke Laslovich was placed on administrative leave by that district. Superintendent Cory Austin also classified it as a personnel issue, avoiding any further explanation.
Laslovich ultimately resigned and will continue receiving salary and benefits through the end of the school year in 2015.