Carmel Clay Schools officials remain tight-lipped on resignations of superintendent, HR director 

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The Carmel Clay Schools board of trustees meets Jan. 22. Former Supt. Nicholas Wahl’s nameplate was removed from the dais, but Human Resources Director Corrine Middleton, whose resignation was announced at the meeting, still had a nameplate. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

Carmel Clay Schools Director of Human Resources Corrine Middleton is no longer with the district, school officials confirmed at a school board meeting Jan. 22.

CIC COM 1206 Middleton

Middleton was put on administrative leave in October 2017 after the school board said it wanted to conduct a review of district leadership. Then-Supt. Nicholas Wahl was placed on administrative leave the same day. CCS announced Jan. 12 that Wahl resigned his position. Both resignations were officially accepted by the school board Jan. 22. According to a resignation and release agreement, Middleton’s resignation was effective Jan. 19.

Middleton will receive her salary through March 31 and receive payment for 26 unused vacation days. Wahl, whose annual salary is $195,000, will be paid through June 30 and receive payment for 25 unused vacation days.

After the meeting, Associate Supt. for Business Affairs Roger McMichael and Assistant Supt. of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Amy Dudley – who are serving as interim superintendents – declined to provide any additional information on what led to Wahl and Middleton’s resignations.

McMichael said that a firm has not been selected yet to handle the search for Wahl or Middleton’s replacements. He said CCS is not likely to use a firm to search for a new human resources director. The district hopes to have a new superintendent in place by July 1.

School board members also declined to provide additional information on what led to the resignations after the meeting.

“The statement says all we’re going to say on that,” school board member Michael Kerschner said. “We’re not going to say anything.”

A release issued by CCS on Jan. 12 announcing Wahl’s resignation stated that the school board “believes that Dr. Wahl’s approach and leadership style are not consistent with the Board’s vision.”

When asked what caused board members to change their opinion of Wahl, whom they publicly supported in mid-2017 during a successful referendum campaign, school board President Layla Spanenberg declined to provide details.

“I appreciate that people are interested, but because it is a personnel matter we have no further comment,” she said.

Spanenberg directed members of the public with comments or questions about the matter to contact CCS Community Relations Liaison Courtney Taylor.

Yet many parents with children at CCS and Carmel taxpayers would like an official explanation as to what led to the resignations.

“I realize there is a level of privacy that must be maintained in any personnel matter, however if Dr. Wahl truly resigned an explanation as to why he is still being paid through the end of the school year needs to be addressed. Transparency would be welcomed as to why and how that decision was agreed upon,” said Lisa Pleasant, a Carmel resident whose daughter graduated from Carmel High School last year.

Carmel resident Nancy LaFon, who has two children in CCS schools and one graduate, said she believes the school board generally does a good job but that the district’s handling of the issue felt like “a slap in the face.”

“Going forward I’d hope that they would be a little more transparent with what is going on and move a little quicker,” she said. “It would also be good if they could prohibit contracts from including clauses that could allow us to have to spend a ton on someone that isn’t even doing any work for us.”

Other residents are ready to move on.

“I don’t think it is anyone’s business if it did not affect the school financially or student population. It is apparently a moral/ethical issue that has been resolved. Let’s get off this (idea) of having to know private lives where there is no effect on the community,” said Chuck Damler, a Carmel resident and empty nester. “The school screwed up in taking too long to reach a conclusion, probably due to contractual issues.”

District officials have released few details about the administrative review, except to confirm that it did not involve students or criminal activity. They confirmed that the relationship between Wahl and Middleton was one of many aspects under review. Some have speculated that Wahl and Middleton were involved in a romantic relationship, as both filed for divorce in 2017.