Sequeira confirms investigation into SHS staff handling of complaints
Shelton High Principal Beth Smith is not the only high school staff member being investigated, according to the city’s top official.
Mayor Mark Lauretti told the Shelton Herald Monday that the state’s attorney office and the Shelton Police Department are presently conducting a “criminal investigation involving multiple staff members” at Shelton High School. Smith was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, March 28, on what school Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet termed a “personnel matter.”
Shelton Police Chief Shawn Sequeira told the Herald Monday that his department is investigating whether school personnel are following the proper protocols and procedures, in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes, when dealing with potentially criminal situations.
Sequeira would not comment on what specifically led to this investigation, saying only that the department was called to the high school on an incident involving students.
“While working on the alleged case concerning the students, this separate case came up,” said the chief.
Sequeira also would not comment on if any arrests were pending, saying “we would like to wrap this up as soon as possible, but I can give no time line. That’s when things can slip through the cracks. I prefer to be as efficient, accurate, clear and concise as possible. We do not limit our investigation to one individual because you never know where the investigation will lead.”
Clouet did confirm to the Herald Saturday that “law enforcement and other agencies are currently investigating a situation that took place involving (Smith)” but would not comment on what has prompted this investigation or what other agencies are involved, saying only the incident in question occurred earlier in the week.
Lauretti said this investigation stems from an incident involving two students at the high school earlier last week. Lauretti could not comment on the incident involving the students, saying that investigation remains ongoing. But the mayor did say that police are attempting to determine if Smith and fellow staff members properly followed protocols and procedures during the incident with the two students.
“The situation centered around a complaint concerning two students,” said Lauretti, “and during that, the state’s attorney got involved with respect to how these complaints are being handled by school staff members.”
“I have not been made aware of that,” said Clouet when asked about Lauretti’s comment about multiple high school staffers being investigated.
Clouet told the Herald that he informed Smith of the decision in his conference room at the Board of Education administrative office building Thursday, March 28. Smith was neither arrested nor escorted from the high school by law enforcement, according to Clouet.
“It is true that (Smith) is on paid administrative leave until further notice, but the circumstances of that decision are a personnel matter, and I cannot comment further,” said Clouet.
“Why just Beth Smith? I don’t know why she was put on paid leave. What about the others being investigated? I know the state’s attorney’s office is concerned with how protocols are being followed and regulations being adhered to,” Lauretti added.
Clouet did say he was “concerned and extremely disappointed in the false reporting” on this matter by various media outlets. According to a report on the WTNH website, Shelton police confirmed that officers were at Shelton High School on Friday as part of an ongoing investigation involving a school employee.
Sequeira also confirmed that reports of an arrest of school personnel or any school personnel being escorted from the high school, in relation to this investigation, were inaccurate.
In a statement released on the school's website at 8 p.m. Friday, Clouet stated "Please beware of rumors. (Smith) was not escorted from the building by police. There has been no arrest. Our primary concern is the well being of our students. In addition, Dr. Smith deserves respect and privacy as this process unfolds."
“I made this decision to place her on paid administrative leave for her benefit and the benefit of the school district until this is resolved,” said Clouet.
Board of Education Chairman Mark Holden said Friday that Clouet informed board members midday Thursday about the move.
Assistant Principal John Skerritt is acting principal while an investigation begins into Smith, who has been principal at the high school for some 10 years.
Holden said the board has not received any details on the issues surrounding Clouet's decision on Smith.
“There will be a thorough investigation,” said Holden, “and if the Board of Education needs to action, we will do so.”
Holden also disputed reports of Smith, a longtime member of the Shelton school system, being arrested, saying that he has heard nothing of an arrest or anyone being escorted from the high school by law enforcement.
“(Clouet) met with her yesterday (Thursday, March 28), and he was the one who made the decision that she should be placed on administrative leave, with pay,” said Holden.
In the meantime, Holden said he has “tremendous confidence in (Skerritt’s) ability to cover what needs to be covered” during this process.
Visit sheltonherald.com daily for updates on this article.