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."