School officials reject claim of improper behavior

An anonymous package of information, which includes a five-year-old lawsuit filed against the current principal of Wilton High School, is being rebuffed by the Board of Education as a “false attack.” The package was delivered to The Bulletin, other media outlets, and town officials earlier this week. The return address was simply “Women of Wilton Unite.”

The package included a copy of a lawsuit, an agreement not to sue, and a release and separation agreement signed by former Superintendent of Schools Gary Richards. The lawsuit, filed by former Wilton High School teacher Anastasia Brooks, alleges improper behavior by Robert O’Donnell, who was then assistant principal, and subsequent retaliatory behavior resulting in her being placed on leave.

The lawsuit was filed in Stamford Superior Court in January 2012 and the release and separation agreement, also signed by Brooks, was executed in April of that year. The agreement stipulates Brooks would leave the district’s employment but be paid her salary and health benefits through Dec. 31, 2012, or until she obtained a comparable teaching position elsewhere, whichever came first.

This matter was not brought to the attention of the Board of Education, according to Karen Birck, who was a board member at the time.

A statement, sent to staff this week by Superintendent Kevin Smith, from the Board of Education, said the allegations in the lawsuit were unproven.

“At the time the complaint was made, a comprehensive investigation was conducted by the former Director of Human Resources with support from legal counsel. As a result of the investigation, the district concluded the allegations were baseless,” the statement says.

The statement continues: “The Wilton Board of Education and the Administration of the Wilton Public Schools, including the High School Principal, are committed to assuring that staff, students and the school community may live and work in an environment free of sexual harassment. It is unfortunate that the individual who sent the anonymous letter has secretly and irresponsibly made false allegations against a good person. As a community, we must have the common sense to hold guilty parties responsible for sexual harassment and protect the well-deserved reputations of those who are not.”

The Bulletin asked Smith Wednesday morning how much money had been paid to Brooks, but had not heard back by the time the paper went to press.