Howard investigation findings expected this month

Published 10:11 am Thursday, April 7, 2011

CHESAPEAKE — The attorney investigating actions by Chesapeake School Superintendent Dr. Scott Howard expects to have his findings by the middle of April.

“The board told me they wanted to complete it as soon as possible,” Dan Ruggiero, a Portsmouth-based lawyer, said. “I am trying to get it done within the next week or so, well within two weeks.”

During a special Chesapeake Board of Education meeting on March 31, Howard was placed on administrative leave with pay.

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That action was taken in connection with a draft of a brochure that Howard prepared concerning a proposed leadership program for high school students for the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. The school district is a member of the chamber.

According to Howard’s attorney, Richard Meyers, a member of the administrative office staff told the board that Howard was using school computers and staff for the project.

Meyers attended the meeting with Howard and said four of the five members were present at the board office — Kim Oxley, David Bennett, Jerry Osborne and Bill Pratt. Dr. Mike Dyer was in Florida and participated in the open meeting electronically. However, when the board went into executive session and when it voted on the motion, Dyer was not allowed to be a part of the proceedings, Meyers said. The vote was unanimous, according to Meyers.

Ruggiero said he is only investigating the actions concerning the making of the brochure.

“That is the only complaint that I have been asked to investigate,” he said. “I am interviewing teachers and hope to talk with one or two people involved with the chamber. I am going to meet with Mr. Meyers and Dr. Howard.”

Ruggiero was called in through the consulting contract the school board has with Cross Management Consulting Services owned Robert Cross.

“He is not a lawyer. When legal services are needed, I am Cross Management’s attorney,” Ruggiero said.

Ruggiero, who is also in private practice in Portsmouth, declined to disclose what he was charging for his investigative work.

“I don’t feel comfortable telling that,” he said. “I would rather that would come from the school board.”