Henrico superintendent on paid leave after questionable emails

Posted on: 5:56 pm, August 8, 2013, by , updated on: 06:23am, August 9, 2013

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) — The superintendent of Henrico County Public Schools is on paid annual leave following a closed-door meeting with the school board Thursday evening.

This comes after CBS 6 pressed school leaders for answers after high-level school sources said Superintendent Pat Russo participated in inappropriate exchanges from his county email address.

Nearly two weeks ago CBS 6 filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the district asking for emails exchanged from Russo’s account.

The district completed the request, but withheld several documents because they claimed the contents were not tied to Russo’s official capacity — and therefore not seen by the county legal staff as public record.

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SIDEBAR. WATCH: CBS 6 Reporter Chelsea Rarrick questions additional absence of board member Diana Winston. Emails requested by CBS 6 using the Freedom of Information Act indicate a personal relationship between Superintendent Russo, Diana Winston, and her husband. However, several emails including their names were withheld from CBS 6 by the district.

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On Thursday, board members gathered for an afternoon work session to discuss a possible two-year extension of Russo’s contract, which officially ends in 2015. But a clause in his current contract requires the board to consider extension in 2013 as well as a possible increase in pay.

Additionally, after sending a more detailed FOIA request to the school district, CBS 6 News reporters Catie Beck and Chelsea Rarrick approached school staff and board members to try and get some answers.

Schools officials said this was a “personnel matter” and that the district’s deputy superintendent will be filling in during Russo’s absence.

CBS 6 asked Henrico County Public  Schools Spokesman, Andy Jenks about Diana Winston’s absence from Thursday night’s meeting.

“There’s nothing I can elaborate on Mrs. Winston at this time,” said Jenks.

Stay with CBS 6 News for updates on this important local story.