Martinsville school superintendent on sick leave

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MARTINSVILLE – Dr. Ron Furniss, superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville, took an unexpected sick leave 24 hours after the second of two school board executive sessions 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. “(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.”

Taylor said Furniss dropped by a luncheon honoring a departing employee this afternoon.

“I have not asked him one question about his future plans. I do know that he hasn’t felt well the last couple days so that’s why (he’s taking) the sick days.”

Furniss’ decision to call in sick, with no indication of when he would be coming back, caught school board president Brock by surprise.

“I was not aware of his physical nature and at this time I still am not aware of his physical nature,” he said.

Brock said the board still has confidence in Furniss as superintendent. Furniss has a contract that pays him $123,000 a year through 2017, though he recently announced his retirement in June of next year.

Brock said the board had already begun its process of finding a new superintendent.

Until Furniss comes back to work, or another school boss is hired, assistant superintendents Randy Taylor and Dr. Jerry Sanders will oversee operations of the district.