Martinsville superintendent gets sick leave extension

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MARTINSVILLE – Questions surrounding the whereabouts of a Central Indiana school district leader continue to grow after the district’s school board approved a sick leave extension for the superintendent, Tuesday night.

The Metropolitan School District of Martinsville school board voted unanimously to authorize Dr. Ron Furniss’ request to take another 45 days off the job.

He originally made the decision to take sick leave for an undetermined length of time nearly two weeks ago. That was just 24 hours after the second of two school board executive sessions were called to investigate allegations of “individual misconduct,” and “job performance evaluations of individual employees.”

There is no indication which employee or employees the board was investigating.

“Basically we had an issue that we were concerned about and as of this time it has been unfounded,” said Steve Brock, school board president.

Furniss’ decision to take sick leave of an undetermined length was a surprise to assistant superintendent Randy Taylor.

“The last day that he worked in our office was last Thursday,” said Taylor last week. “(His) office is closed and he has been in and out of the office, but I really can’t tell you what is in there or what has been removed.”

So what happened to Dr. Furniss? No one is willing to comment on exactly why the district leader is away, but board members and his two assistant superintendents say they still support him.

“Sometimes bad things happen in life and we all experience those and sometimes it just involves illness,” explained assistant superintendent Dr. Jerry Sanders. “We speak with Dr. Furniss often. Not only is he our boss, but he’s our friend so we check in on him on a regular basis.”

Sanders added that Dr. Furniss could be out of the office for as long as he had sick days and the board approved his sick leave. When asked how many more sick days Furniss had left, Sanders replied he didn’t know.

Furniss has a contract that pays him $123,000 a year through 2017, though he recently announced his retirement in June of next year.

Until he returns to work, Taylor and Sanders will oversee operations of the district.