CALEDONIA – Cal-Mum Middle School Principal Paul Estabrooks has been assigned to duties at the district’s administrative office, Superintendent Robert Molisani wrote in an email to parents and staff Friday afternoon.
This latest development at the district follows reporting from the Livingston County News that at least three teachers had accused Estabrooks of engaging in acts of harassment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation since 2016.
In his email to parents and staff, a copy of which was obtained by the County News, Molisani wrote that he would be temporarily serving as acting middle school principal while Megan Rogers, the district’s school psychologist, would serve as acting committee on special education chairperson, a position previously held by Estabrooks.
“Additional information will follow regarding the plan for building leadership moving forward,” Molisani wrote. “Mr. Paul Estabrooks is currently assigned to duties at the District administrative office. We are unable to share additional information at this time.”
Continued Molisani: “Our school community has met the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic in true Cal-Mum style – as the home of champions. We look forward to continuing in that spirit as we begin a new year and welcome students back for the first day of school on Sept. 7.”
Molisani and Estabrooks did not respond to requests for comment. According to the government accountability website SeeThroughNY.net, Estabrooks earned $121,571 in 2020.
Cal-Mum’s board of education met for a special, previously unscheduled meeting Aug. 25 that included an executive session called for the purposes of discussing “personnel issues.” Because executive sessions are closed to the public, it’s unclear whether Estabrooks was a topic of discussion.
The meeting was streamed virtually over Zoom, though board members appeared to be gathered together, in person, at the board’s regular meeting room. It’s unclear why the meeting was streamed virtually. The board’s most recent meeting on Aug. 10 was held in person and was open to the public.
The Livingston County News, Cal-Mum’s official newspaper, did not learn of the meeting until the district posted about it on its social media accounts on Aug. 25, about two hours before it was scheduled to start. The district also posted notice of the meeting on its website and Twitter and Facebook accounts Aug. 20.
According to the notice on its website, the district provided a link to the Zoom meeting in an Aug. 19 email to parents.
But the email, a copy of which was obtained by the County News, did not make any mention of the special board of education meeting and noted only that the link provided was for parents to access the district’s “virtual 2021-22 school opening meeting,” which was held while the board was in session.
As the County News previously reported, one of the three teachers to accuse Estabrooks of unprofessional conduct filed a federal lawsuit against Estabrooks, Molisani and the school district in 2017. The teacher, whose named is being withheld by the County News to protect her privacy, accused Estabrooks of making inappropriate comments about her body and appearance, treating her differently because of her gender and then retaliating against her once she failed to respond favorably to his advances.
The district ultimately settled the suit for $47,500. In exchange for the money, the teacher agreed to drop her lawsuit and never file another one against the district. In agreeing to the settlement, the district did not admit any guilt or liability.