Montville High administrator placed on leave pending police, school investigations

Montville — School administrators placed high school Assistant Principal Tatiana Patten on leave Tuesday pending separate investigations by the school district and police.

Police Lt. Leonard Bunnell said Patten is named in an active investigation involving "multiple persons from high school faculty."

Bunnell declined to describe the nature of the investigation, which began Monday and has not led to any arrests. But he noted there was no accuracy to social media posts this week implying the investigation was tied to alleged financial malfeasance.

"There's no monetary funds involved, just activity within the school grounds," Bunnell said.

Asked about being placed on leave Wednesday, Patten, 58, said, "I'm not being investigated, I'll tell you that."

Patten, who has been assistant principal for more than a decade, deferred further questions to Montville Public Schools Superintendent Brian Levesque.

Levesque said Patten was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday after district officials began their own inquiry last month.

"It was something we were aware of before the Christmas holiday," said Levesque, who declined to provide details about the investigation. "It's a personnel matter. That's about all I can say. I'm not sure how long it will take. Sometimes they come to a quick resolution."

Levesque said the district's investigation "does not involve any other staff members at this time," though in "a matter related to this incident, we terminated a substitute teacher in October."

Levesque said he could not share more details on the substitute's firing.

Placing Patten on leave led to some shuffling of staff, with Athletic Director Phil Orbe named interim assistant principal and Physical Education Chairman Robert Alves named interim athletic director, Levesque said.

Levesque notified staff and Board of Education members of the shakeup Tuesday.

Board of Education Chairman Robert Mitchell said while the board was aware of the investigation, state statute and the contract with the Montville Administrators Association dictate that "we're not allowed to know the particulars because we would be one of the groups sitting in judgment for any type of disciplinary action. We have to go in as unbiased as possible."

Mitchell said the board was "always concerned" when staff or faculty are involved in investigations because "it reflects on the school district, the schools and the students."

But Mitchell expressed confidence in Levesque's personnel decisions and said the board would "keep ourselves above what's going on until it's brought before us."

The board's next regularly scheduled meeting is Jan. 16.

b.kail@theday.com

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