PALATKA, Fla. -- The Putnam County School Board voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to suspend Werner Hollaway, director of Human Resources, without pay. In August, he was placed on paid leave.
Hollaway allegedly handed out a string of inappropriate emails to his office staff. One included two pictures of nude men.
School superintendent Tom Townsend said, "We had an email from an anonymous source dated 2010. We received that in February. There was no complaint about the email. We had no evidence it had been forwarded. In June a citizen wanted to appeal my decision not to terminate Mr. Hollaway. They [the school board] granted him that hearing. They launched an investigation. I received the results on July 31st and within hours I made a decision he could not be in a supervisory role or director of Human Resources."
Another email investigated by the board contained reported jokes about Detroit school updating math testing.
This is an excerpt: "Lajames has an AK-47 with a 200-round clip. He usually misses 6 of every 10 shots and he uses 13 rounds per drive-by shootin. How many *** can Lajames ice on a drive-by before he gotta reload?"
Four women testified under oath that Hollaway gave them the document in the Human Resources Department during work hours.
Tuesday, with a 3-2 vote, board members voted to suspend Hollaway without pay until his contract expires in June 2013. The board allowed him to keep his accrued vacation and sick days.
While board member Nikki Cummings said she thought he should be terminated, she made a motion that he be suspended.
Cummings said, "I felt that would be a compromise. I felt he should be terminated for his actions. I really feel strongly about consequences, and I looked at the facts and the law was broken and there is a consequence to pay, but there were a lot of emotions because he's been in the district so long and he had a lot of friends."
The superintendent questions why the email wasn't brought forth sooner.
Townsend said, "I think this has been small town politics."
Board member Kathy Jorgensen said, "I think Werner Hollaway got caught up in a political sham, and it was effectively used along with other things to unseat our superintendent. I believe with all my heart that's what was behind all of this. This happened two years ago, and it was just brought up two months before the election."
In February, Townsend was defeated in the Democratic primary ending his chance at serving a second term as superintendent.
While Jorgensen does not stand behind what Hollaway allegedly did, she was in favor of him returning to work immediately.
Jorgensen said, "He's very versatile. He has been a guidance counselor, a principal, an assistant principal, just everything he has done for this district for 33 years. I went through his whole personnel file looking for anything. I found nothing, not one disciplinary action or complaint...I think he's a valuable employee. I'm not saying what he did he did was right, but you show me somebody that doesn't make a mistake."
Hollaway was not at the meeting Tuesday. First Coast News reached him by phone but he declined to comment.
He has 10 days to appeal the board's decision.
First Coast News