CORINTH, Maine — RSU 64 Superintendent Daniel Higgins said Thursday he has begun an investigation into the alleged illegal conduct of Central High School principal Garry Spencer.
Spencer, 56, of Old Town, is facing charges of leaving the scene of a property damage accident and filing a false report, Old Town police Capt. Kyle Smart said Wednesday. Both charges are misdemeanors and Spencer was not arrested.
Smart said Spencer panicked after crashing his vehicle into a parked car on Lincoln Street in Old Town on May 5. Spencer abandoned the car and called police to report his car stolen, according to Smart. On May 12, Spencer admitted to driving the vehicle himself, and he was charged.
Higgins said on Thursday that Spencer remains the principal of Central High School and no formal action has yet been taken. A secretary in the Central High School’s principal’s office said Spencer would not be in the office on Thursday. A message seeking comment left on Spencer’s cell phone was not immediately returned.
Spencer has been the principal at Central High since 2004, while serving as assistant principal from 2001 to 2004. His salary is $78,589 for this year, said Higgins.
“I’m in the process of conducting an investigation into the incident and consulting with the district’s legal counsel,” said Higgins. “Once I have completed the investigation with findings, I’ll be able to move forward and make determinations and proceed with the district’s policies and practices, and we’ll take any action that’s in the best interest of the district.”
Higgins said Spencer told him of the charges before the incident was reported by the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday evening.
Higgins said he was unable to provide any more information because he could not discuss personnel matters.
“If there was to be some sort of employment action, the [RSU 64 school] board would have to be a part of that,” Higgins said. “At this time, my focus is to gather the information, consult with our attorney and determining our next appropriate steps.”
There is no timeline for the investigation, he said.
“I want to make sure I do a thorough investigation and make sure I have all the facts,” said Higgins. “Obviously, we would like to proceed as quickly as possible in doing so.”
RSU 64 Board of Directors Chairman Rhonda Williams said on Thursday that the next board meeting will be on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Central High School cafeteria. However, the principal’s incident is not on the agenda, she said.
She referred questions to Superintendent Higgins.
Lincoln Street resident David Bishop, describing the incident involving Spencer on May 5, said his 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier was parked on his lawn parallel to the road and his 2010 Dodge Charger was parked in the driveway, perpendicular to the road.
“He hit [the Cavalier] head on and pushed it back 20 or 30 feet backwards,” Bishop said on Wednesday. “The car was pushed into the Charger enough to push the Charger sideways by 2 feet. He must have been traveling at a high rate of speed.”
Spencer’s car was driven about 0.7 miles from the crash scene and abandoned on the corner of Oak Street and Fourth Street. Spencer reported his car stolen soon after.
Spencer told initially police that he had been working in his yard but left his keys in his car and later noticed it was missing, said Smart.
The abandoned vehicle was damaged enough that it had to be towed to Spencer’s home.
Bishop said his Cavalier was totaled and that $1,800-$2,000 in damage was done to his Charger.
On May 9, an insurance investigator contacted Old Town police after talking with a witness who saw the damaged black car with Spencer behind the wheel.
“The witness saw the stolen car on Oak Street with damage to the front end and recognized the operator as the owner of the vehicle,” said Smart.
Spencer came to the Old Town police station on May 12, said Smart. Spencer had not been called in by police but came on his own.
“After a discussion, he admitted to driving the vehicle that day,” Smart said. “[Spencer] panicked and didn’t know what to do. He went home and reported his car stolen.”
Leaving the scene of a property damage accident is a Class E crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Filing a false police report is a Class D crime punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Before coming to Central High, Spencer spent his career involved in Old Town athletics, according to previous BDN reports.
He was the athletic director for Old Town High School for seven years before leaving in 2001. He was the high school girls varsity basketball coach for 14 years before stepping down in 1999.
Spencer served as head coach of Old Town High’s football team for two years and was the assistant coach for 15 years.
Watch Bangordailynews.com for updates on this story.