Former Shelton principal, BOE reach settlement after job switch

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Shelton High Headmaster Beth Smith presents at a education conference in Shanghai in April 2018

Shelton High Headmaster Beth Smith presents at a education conference in Shanghai in April 2018


SHELTON — The former Shelton High School principal has reached an agreement with school officials and the Board of Education, resolving the pending grievance she filed following her reassignment to supervisor of special education in July.

In her grievance, Beth Smith had argued that Superintendent Chris Clouet’s decision to reassign her earlier this year was punitive.

The move came just months after Smith and then-Assistant Principal John Skerritt, who is now assistant principal at Shelton Intermediate School, were placed on administrative leave in March while police investigated the school’s handling of an alleged sexual assault involving two students and whether school personnel adhered to requirements in state law.

That six-week investigation was closed earlier in May, with no criminal charges filed. The police report on the investigation stated that Shelton police had sought a warrant for the arrest of Smith and for risk of injury to a minor and interfering with police, but State’s Attorney Margaret Kelley declined to prosecute.

In an October appearance before a subcommittee of the school board, Smith argued her new post as supervisor of special education carried less authority, less salary, a lower classification under the union’s bargaining agreement, and no supervisory or building responsibilities.

But the subcommittee did not agree and denied Smith’s grievance.

The settlement approved unanimously by the Board of Education on Wednesday changed Smith’s new title to supervisor of special education and pupil services, labeled the move as a promotion and kept her $164,595 salary but also grants the administrator annual pay raises of 2.8 percent, as she would have received if still high school principal.

“This is a position for which Dr. Smith is eminently qualified and into which the board and Clouet are proud to welcome her,” read a joint statement from the Board of Education, Clouet, Smith and Smith’s union, the Shelton Administrators’ Council.

“Although Dr. Smith will miss leading the high school, she looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead of her and she fully embraces the opportunity to work in central office and on behalf of the District at large,” the statement read.

With the agreement, Smith and the union have agreed to withdraw the pending grievance and the arbitration is being canceled.

Clouet said the supervisor of special education and pupil services is the highest level special education administrator in the district and giving her this new title is promotion from her present level.

“At this point, the parties consider the prior investigation closed, all related issues between them resolved, and they are turning their collective focus to serving the students and community of Shelton, and continuing to move the district forward in a positive direction,” read the statement.

Board Chair Kathy Yolish said that an arbitration hearing had been set for Monday, Dec. 16, and if the board did not reach a settlement with Smith, “the range of cost would be from $7,000 to as much as $25,000 to $30,000 depending on the number of days for testimony and concluded findings.”

Yolish noted that Smith and Skerritt were both cleared of any wrongdoing by the state’s attorney’s office, and Clouet stated that Smith had followed the board’s policies and procedures, so “there was no cause for disciplinary action against her.

“I believe the unanimous vote by the board to enact Superintendent Clouet’s recommendation affirms the decision and conditions of the settlement,” added Yolish.

Smith has a background in special education, having served in the past as the department chair for special education. Kathy Riddle was named the interim high school principal for the 2019-20 school year.