By JORDAN COHEN
Kelly Newbrough, the McKinley High School math teacher who was suspended 10 days last February for student intimidation and unprofessional conduct, has been granted an unpaid leave of absence for the 2010-11 school year for medical reasons.
The Niles Board of Education approved the request in a unanimous vote without comment Thursday during its regular meeting.
In a letter to Superintendent Rocco Adduci, Newbrough, 42, wrote that he provided a letter from a physician “listing the reason, effective date, and duration of the medical leave of absence.”
Newbrough’s letter did not state the medical issue. Such information is protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
“Medical information is private and confidential under HIPAA and cannot be disclosed,” Adduci added.
Adduci suspended Newbrough, a teacher for 16 years, after Newbrough threatened a student in what the superintendent described as a violation of the code of professional conduct and for making unauthorized attempts to contact the student’s parents.
Adduci said the teacher’s actions caused “the family to be fearful of sending their children to school.” Newbrough did not contest the suspension.
Adduci said Newbrough can request an additional year of unpaid leave in 2011 under state law, a point also cited in the teacher’s letter to the superintendent.
In another item, the board approved placing a 1.5-mill tax levy for the McKinley Memorial Library on the November ballot — the first time in its history the library has gone to the voters for money.
Marlene Rhodes, board president, said library directors asked the board to submit the levy on their behalf. The board is the library’s taxing authority.
Lawrence Corbus, a consultant retained by the library, told board members that Ohio’s libraries have been hit with 30 percent budget cuts by the state, and more reductions are likely next year.
“Fifty percent of libraries in the state have gone to the property tax because they have no other choice,” Corbus said.