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Boston Schools chief erred in failing to suspend tainted headmaster

Boston school Superintendent Carol Johnson badly mishandled the aftermath of last year’s arrest of Rodney Peterson, a former headmaster at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. She could have taken relatively simple steps to protect the integrity of the school system after Peterson was arrested on June 17, 2011, and accused of punching and choking his wife. Instead, she failed to take appropriate action.

It’s not easy running an $850 million school operation. The arrest of a high-profile educator might seem to be one of the tougher challenges facing a superintendent. Actually, it’s not. Even without a written policy to fall back on, the common practice is to place the subject on administrative leave, usually with pay if the offense is unrelated to official duties. If the alleged crime is job-related, managers have the leeway to place the subject on leave without pay.

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