Ex-HCS principal used intimidation tactics, according to officials, documents

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Mark Thomas resigned from position in June

By Kelly Cantrall

An audio recording of former New Highland Elementary School Principal Mark Thomas intimidating and threatening an employee was the impetus behind his eventual resignation from the position, according to Hardin County Schools officials.

Superintendent Nannette Johnston said several previous grievances had been filed against Thomas regarding his alleged intimidation with employees.

But the most recent one, filed near the end of last school year, included a recording of a conversation between Thomas and a teacher. Johnston said it gave the district the “concrete evidence” officials needed to remove Thomas from the position.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Thomas said the claims were unwarranted.

“They are just allegations,” he said. “There's no evidence of wrongdoing.”

With the previous complaints, Johnston had completed professional growth plans with Thomas in hopes that the reported behaviors would stop.

Thomas allegedly threatened the jobs of employees in the 2010 complaints. The latest incident eventually had given an employee cause to fear for her physical safety as well as her job, Johnston said.

Johnston confirmed previous statements from HCS officials that students never were involved in the incidents, and said that the alleged behavior was very much an isolated incident within the district.

It was “very shocking and very disappointing,” she said.

“That is not going to be tolerated in this district, not by anyone,” she said.

The school district was ordered to release Thomas' personnel file by the attorney general's office after appeals filed by The News-Enterprise and WHAS-TV based on Kentucky's Open Records Law.

See Wednesday's print edition of The News-Enterprise for more details.