Speculation and suspicion have been swirling around Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Johnny Brown’s abrupt leave of absence. According to district assistant superintendent Mark Porterie, Brown has been out of the office since last week, and a return date has not been set.
“He’s taking care of something, but I’m not sure what it is,” Porterie said of his boss’s absence. According to information provided by Porterie, Brown is allowed to take up to five personal days off in a row – as of this publication Wednesday, Oct. 31, Brown had been out of the office for four days.
Still, Porterie said the time taken off by Brown wasn’t following the usual course of business, and added that specific details of the leave would only be available through the school district’s attorney, Melody Chappell. Normally, Porterie said, leaves of absence follow the rules of Policy DEC (LOCAL), which states, “A written request for use of discretionary personal leave shall be submitted to the principal or designee three days in advance of the anticipated absence. In deciding to approve personal leave, the principal or designee shall consider the effect of the employee’s absence on the educational program, as well as the availability of substitutes.” To his knowledge, no written request has been provided, Porterie said.
A veteran teacher within the district who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation said three educators have claimed Brown was sexually harassing staffers. Additional information circulating contends that the district is in possession of video and audio confirmation of at least one of the allegations.
Brown did not answer calls made to his office and cell phone. Attorney Chappell also offered no comment on the allegations made against the district superintendent.