Updated: Rockville High Principal Getting 10-Day Suspension Related to DUI Charge

He will also be required to schedule anti-alcohol speaking engagements.

Updated: Aug. 15, 2:51 p.m.

A 10-day suspension without pay is the stiffest penalty in a stringent set of disciplinary measures taken against Principal Eric Baim in the wake of a driving under the influence charge.

It is also the maximum alternative to being fired.

Baim's personal legal proceedings are pending, but on Tuesday, Superintendent of Schools Mary Conway met with the Board of Education to present a list of recommended internal punishments. The board adopted the measures, despite no votes from members Michelle Arn and David Kemp.

The disciplinary document became public, pursuant to state freedom of information law, when it was delivered to Baim late Wednesday morning and placed in his personnel file. Vernon Patch had formally requested the document and it was made available within minutes of its delivery to Baim.

Baim was charged with DUI and running a stop sign in Berlin on July 13. On July 24, the school board voted not to direct Conway to consider him for termination, but outline other means of discipline to be voted on during Tuesday's special meeting.

"In terms of progressive discipline, one step prior to termination is a 10-day suspension without pay," Conway wrote in the disciplinary letter. "Since this was a particularly egregious act, I believe that you should receive the maximum suspension under progressive discipline."

Baim said on Wednesday, "Personally, it's what I deserve."

The suspension will commence "at the convenience of the school district," Conway indicated.

Baim's salary is $134,352 annually and he is paid on a 12-month schedule, according to school system records.

Conway outlined other disciplinary measures in a prepared statement:

• Baim is required to apologize to staff, students and parents.

• Baim must speak to the health and law and order classes at the high school.

• Baim is to become involved in several student and community groups that foster "good decision-making skills with regard to the use of alcohol."

"It is important for people to understand a system of progressive discipline - a 10-day suspension without pay is one step lower than termination. It is also important for people to know that this 10-day un-paid suspension will be at the convenience of the school district and not at the discretion of Mr. Baim," Conway said in the statement. "I think that we all agree that this has been a very difficult situation. As superintendent, my goal now that the board has approved the final step in this process, is to learn from this and to move forward putting the focus back where it needs to be and that is on providing the best education possible for the students of Vernon public schools."

When asked on Wednesday if the drunken driving arrest was related to a serious problem, Baim said it was "an isolated incident."

But he also said he welcomed the reform aspect of his punishment. Baim met with Conway twice regarding his status - once with union representative Patricia Buell present and once just with Conway.

"The superintendent had broached the subject when we met and I immediately began contacting people," Baim said. "I will begin scheduling classes and speaking opportunities once the school year begins. I want the chance to give back to the community and the school."

Bert August 16, 2012 at 04:32 PM
There are obviously two schools of thought here and both have merit. I tend to like to take situations individually when possible. What is done in other situations is not always the only way or the right way. Yes, a work permit will be issued for a first time offender because the state does not want people to lose their jobs and ruin their lives and families over the first incident. It could have happened to many of us at one time or another in our lifetimes. If it should happen again, it will involve jail time. Then we will have our answer. Looking at this individual situation, I think that the punishment is adequate and that the kids are safe and might learn something about the perils of making mistakes like this one. Hopefully they will also learn about giving others a chance to redeem themselves and to learn from the mistakes of others. I think the BOE made a well-reasoned decision. Let's hope it turns out to be the right one.
Dan August 16, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Well said and very reasonable, Bert. The only aspect on which I completely disagree is the "at our convenience" scheduling of the suspension. That's just weird.
Bert August 16, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I don't think it is weird at all. If he is to be suspended, it should be when the BOE thinks it can be done without negatively impacting the school system. Right now he is probably busy scheduling students and getting things ready for the opening of school. They will probably wait until the school has opened and is running smoothly before they put him on his 10-day suspension. I think it should be their call. Just my guess.
Tom August 17, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Bert you make my point. He hasn't gone to court. yet the board makes a decision. Even if this had been fully adjudicated it is unlikely that the questions that i think are relevant would even be raised. he pleads nolo or guilty and takes the suspension and the rehab classes. I would be a lot more understanding if he was out returning from dinner early in the evening after a couple of drinks 't but 1 am and blowing more than a .16 that gets me very concerned. Where was he coming from where was he going. Is their a alcohol problem? simple questions that it appears our school board is not willing to ask. I don't want the details that should be between Mr Baim and the board. I just would like to know if the process even went there. If not we are doing a great disservice to both the town and Mr. Baim.
Bert August 17, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Are you sure that he hasn't already been to court? No matter. You are not likely to learn the answers to your questions because personnel matters are protected by law. We are a representative form of government. You elect members to the BOE and you have to assume that they are doing a good job and asking the pertinent questions. Where he was coming from, who he was with, and what he was doing is not particularly relevant. DUI is DUI. I think we have just about killed this subject.


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