Middletown Announces Shakeup of School Administration

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MIDDLETOWN — Christine Bourne has resigned from her position as Chief of Administration and Finance for the school district while Marco Gaylord will be returning as the district’s Executive Director of Operations. Both have spent about a year on paid administrative leave in connection to an investigation into the district’s top leadership.

The changes, which were announced in a letter dated December 14 from district Superintendent Alberto Vázquez Matos, are part of a larger reorganization at the administrative level, which the letter said would “better optimize the district’s operational efficiencies and effectiveness.” 

In October 2021, the Board retained the firm Thompson Hine to conduct an investigation into four of the district’s top administrators — Gaylord, Bourne, Vázquez Matos and former superintendent Michael Conner, who left the district in March. 

The investigation was prompted by 15 anonymous complaints that were brought to the board in October 2021. The complaints alleged that top district administrators engaged in bullying, gross sexual harassment, nepotism and patterns of unprofessional conduct dating to 2018 that allegedly prompted the departure of over a dozen female employees.

The firm released an executive summary of its findings in June. 

The investigation found that Bourne “more likely than not” manipulated personnel matters, was slow to address certain payroll issues, and was unprofessional when interacting with employees and a former supervisor. They also supported claims that Bourne “engaged in nepotism and retaliatory behavior toward several individuals.” 

Vazquez-Matos said in the letter that Bourne’s position will be re-named as Executive Director of Finance, and that the district plans to post for the position soon. 

Investigators did not substantiate complaints about unprofessional behavior and insensitive comments from Gaylord. However, the investigation found that Gaylord, as the Title IX coordinator “more likely than not” was aware of, and did not investigate, complaints that were made against Conner by a former administrator, and that he “more likely than not” was “inconsistent and ineffective” in his management of and communication about COVID-19 protocols. 

Gaylord, formerly the district’s Chief of School Operations and Communications, will be returning to the district as the Executive Director of Operations. 

Complaints against Vázquez Matos were not substantiated in the investigation.  

Additionally, Human Resources Director Geen Thazmupallah has resigned from the district. Vázquez Matos said they will be looking for a new Human Resources director soon. 

The district did not respond to multiple questions from CT Examiner regarding the reorganization. The Board of Education did not respond to a request for comment.

This story has been corrected to show that the paid leaves were for about one year, rather than two years as originally reported.

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.