Rock Terrace School principal on administrative leave -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 5 p.m. on July 2, 2012.

Rock Terrace School principal Dianne G. Thornton has been placed on administrative leave as Montgomery County Public Schools investigates the alleged misappropriation of money students earned in the school’s work-study programs.

“This is not uncommon when we are conducting investigations,” school system spokesman Dana Tofig said. “There are no updates on the investigation at this time.”

Calls to a publicly listed number for Dianne Thornton, including one Monday morning, have not been answered.

Two weeks ago, Rock Terrace parents claimed that the school’s administration had misused money students had earned.

Rock Terrace School serves developmentally disabled students from ages 12 to 21 and offers work-study opportunities.

At issue is whether the students actually received money they were entitled to for work they did and whether parents were properly informed about the bank accounts created for their children.

Parents and students have shared their experiences, with some saying they are unsure how much money students’ bank accounts should have and if all of the money is there.

The program, according to a former employee with knowledge of the situation, is set up so that students who work inside the school should be paid. They are not compensated for work outside the school, such as at CVS, Kohl’s and a Hilton hotel. The former employee would speak only on condition of anonymity.

Montgomery County Public Schools issued a statement two weeks ago saying: “While these are just allegations at this point, we are taking the matter very seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation.”

“Appropriate action will be taken based on the facts of the case, once the investigation is completed,” the statement said.

Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said the office was made aware of the situation at Rock Terrace School.

“We are working to obtain all the pertinent information and will go where the evidence and information leads us. As of now, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter,” Korionoff said last week.

On Monday, he said there was nothing to add.

A spokesman for Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot said that because of the tax ramifications, the comptroller’s office would work with state and local authorities to investigate the allegations and would do everything the law allows to watch out for children and their families.

lpowers@gazette.net