A South Washington County school board member has been censured by her colleagues after she reportedly admitted to disclosing private personnel data received from the district's law firm.
The 5-1 vote against Katy McElwee-Stevens came last Thursday and centered on the contents of a letter sent to board members by the law firm on Nov. 4, 2014.
Board Chairman Ron Kath, reading from a board resolution, did not identify the subject or subjects of the letter. But the correspondence was dated two days before the abrupt resignation of East Ridge High School Principal Aaron Harper -- who had been the target of allegations that triggered a district probe.
Kath said that McElwee-Stevens admitted in a Nov. 24 interview with a school district attorney that she made at least five statements to an unspecified individual involving elements of the letter. But, Kath added, McElwee-Stevens said "she did not think she was doing anything wrong" because she originally learned most of the information from another source.
"Ms. McElwee-Stevens knew, or reasonably should have known, the importance of maintaining confidentiality," Kath added. "Board members are expected to serve as role models and must adhere to all legal and ethical requirements. Ms. McElwee-Stevens failed to fulfill this expectation."
The board resolution censuring her also put McElwee-Stevens on notice that the board would initiate action to remove her if she were to engage in the same or similar conduct in the future.
Voting against the resolution was Board Member Katie Schwartz, who said she did not believe the penalty was severe enough.
McElwee-Stevens is a Newport resident who has worked with students with emotional behavior disorder. Twice, she received interim board appointments before finally winning election to a board seat in 2013.