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What did school leaders know about Henrico superintendent’s past?

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Dr. Patrick Russo, superintendent of Henrico County Schools, remains on paid leave pending the outcome of aninvestigation into whether or not he he gave special treatment to former school board member Diana Winston and/or her husband Joe.

However CBS 6 discovered this is not the first time Russo has faced scrutiny in his career.

During his tenure as superintendent of Moore County School in North Carolina, Russo  was almost dismissed by the school board after he took funds intended for remedial students and allocated them toward improving SAT scores.

The Moore School Board motioned for Russo to be removed from his job, but the motion was defeated 3-5.

The incident prompted Russo, at that time, to issue an apology to the Moore School Board.

“I am disheartened by and apologize for the events related to the SAT,” Russo wrote in documents obtained by CBS 6.

This revelation has some Henrico parents questioning the vetting process of county school leaders.

“We need to know the ins and outs of these people,” Henrico mom Jennifer Axelrod said.

Education expert and former Henrico Superintendent Dr. Bill Bosher called the vetting process of superintendents “very detailed” and said Henrico leaders knew of Russo’s past.

“The school board, whether or not you agree or disagree with the decision to hire Mr. Russo, certainly knew his history – both the positive and the negative,” Bosher said.

But Bosher added that there is no set vetting process for school boards to follow when hiring superintendents in Virginia.

“There is no uniform process when hiring a superintendent – you do have to be on a state list,” Bosher said.

Henrico Schools would not respond to CBS 6 request for a comment on their vetting process.

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