Central High principal resigns after alleged hit-and-run, filing false report

RSU 64 Superintendent Daniel Higgins speaks to the board of directors during a meeting at Central High School in Corinth on Wednesday as Rhonda Williams looks on.
RSU 64 Superintendent Daniel Higgins speaks to the board of directors during a meeting at Central High School in Corinth on Wednesday as Rhonda Williams looks on.
Posted July 10, 2013, at 8:02 p.m.
Last modified July 11, 2013, at 11:44 a.m.
Garry Spencer
RSU 64
Garry Spencer

CORINTH, Maine — The RSU 64 board of directors unanimously accepted the resignation of Central High School Principal Garry Spencer on Wednesday evening.

Spencer submitted a letter to Superintendent Daniel Higgins on Tuesday and Higgins read the letter aloud for the board.

“His letter of resignation stated personal and medical reasons and will be effective July 26,” Higgins said after the meeting. “He will remain on paid administrative leave at that time. The board of directors also voted to authorize me to sign a separation agreement, which will provide Mr. Spencer a modest payment of accumulated sick leave and health insurance. By accepting the resignation, both the board and the district and Mr. Spencer will be able to move forward from this situation.”

Higgins had been conducting an investigation into Spencer’s alleged conduct after charges by Old Town police that the principal left the scene of a property damage accident and filed a false report. Spencer was summoned by Old Town police on May 12, a week after he allegedly hit two parked cars in Old Town, abandoned his car and reported his vehicle stolen on May 5.

A message left for Spencer was not immediately returned on Wednesday. He did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

The board went into executive session for 40 minutes as it discussed the situation with the district’s attorney.

Spencer, 56, of Old Town pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 20 at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Spencer was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after Higgins began his investigation in May. Spencer’s salary is $78,589.

“Our findings [in the investigation] were consistent with what has been reported in the media,” Higgins said.

The board also voted to make former principal Marty Gray interim principal on an indefinite basis. Gray has been a principal in the district for 25 to 30 years at the high school and middle school, said Higgins. He is currently a half-time guidance counselor at the high school.

“He’s very well respected in our community,” he said.

Gray will fill the gap as a search committee is formed to find a replacement principal.

“We would like to do that as soon as possible, but we need to make sure we’re as thorough as possible,” Higgins said. “Mr. Gray is prepared to stay on for a year, if necessary. Those are steps [of finding a new principal] we will be determining over the next couple of weeks.”

Spencer has been the principal at Central High since 2004. He previously served as assistant principal from 2001 to 2004.

Before that, he 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.

A dispositional conference is scheduled for Aug. 12 at the Penobscot Judicial Center for Spencer, according to District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. If Spencer doesn’t change his plea, his trial is scheduled for Sept. 4.

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. The Cavalier was struck by another vehicle and pushed 20 or 30 feet backwards into the Charger, enough to move the Charger sideways by 2 feet, he said.

Spencer initially told police that he had been working in his yard but left his keys in his car and later noticed it was missing, according to Old Town police Capt. Kyle Smart.

On May 9, an insurance investigator told Old Town police that he found a witness who saw Spencer driving the damaged vehicle after the crash.

Three days later, Spencer spoke with police.

“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.

“I think this is a very difficult situation,” said Higgins. “I think the fact that Mr. Spencer did make the decision to submit a letter of resignation and the board accepted that, I think it’s a sign that both parties need to move forward from this situation.”

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story requires correction. Superintendent Daniel Higgins received Central High School Principal Garry Spencer’s letter of resignation on Tuesday, not Monday.

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