Decatur school board places superintendent on paid leave amid investigation

The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education recently voted to place superintendent David Dude on paid administrative leave during an investigation into his business conduct.

The school board voted for the action during a special executive session on Thursday night, according to a Friday news release from the school district. Maggie Fehrman, the district’s assistant superintendent, was named interim superintendent, according to a statement from School Board Chair Tasha White.

“It is in the best interest of everyone involved that the superintendent be put on administrative leave,” White said in a statement.

Dude is facing allegations from a lawsuit filed in January by David Adams, a former Human Resources chief who alleges that in 2017, former Chief Financial Officer Susan Hurst told Adams the school board provided “an improper salary increase” by reimbursing Dude’s expenses without receipts.

The lawsuit also alleged Dude underreported his time off, meaning he allegedly used vacation days that were not tracked in the district’s reporting system. Adams also alleged Dude retaliated against Adams’ efforts to hold Dude accountable when the superintendent questioned Adams’ job performance in an interview with the blog., which initially reported on the lawsuit against Dude, reported its investigation unveiled evidence supporting the lawsuit’s allegations against Dude.

Dude was hired in 2015 and his base salary is $219,000. He’s eligible for bonuses of up to $20,000 a year.

The school board announced plans to investigate Dude’s conduct and to renegotiate his contract. But activists from the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights and the Black Parents Alliance called for Dude’s suspension during the probe, citing concerns about the district’s ability to fairly investigate Dude while he maintained his duties at the same time.