Anthony Pack, the Monroe County school superintendent who came out as gay in March after reports that he used the gay dating/hookup app Grindr, is out of a job in what the school board says is a mutual agreement between the two parties. Pack will take home $172,000 in the deal.
Assistant superintendent Jackson Daniel says that Pack was not fired.
“This was an agreement that was mutually arrived at by Mr. Pack and the board,” Daniel told the Macon Telegraph, however also saying he wasn’t sure who initiated discussions about the separation.
But Pack’s lawyer, David Dorer, says it was the school board who initiated the buyout, with the financial terms amounting to a one-year “salary package” for Pack, whose base salary for the 2015-2016 school year would have been $136,700.
The agreement cites a provision in Pack’s contract for “no cause” separations, which states that the board can terminate the contract without cause by giving thirty days written notice to Pack and agreeing to pay a severance of one year of salary and benefits. Dorer tells the Telegraph that Pack was not given 30 days notice but did agree to the buyout.
However, not everything is settled between the two parties as the investigation into Pack’s use of school-issued electronic devices is reportedly ongoing. Pack and Dorer deny Pack has done anything wrong.
Dorer tells the Telegraph it was his understanding that the move by the board to part ways was in response to Pack’s extended medical leave that began in mid-March, and that while Pack felt confident he could get back to the job before school starts in August, the board needed the position filled before that.
Dorer added that Pack is “happy” with the terms of the agreement but that he did not want to leave the position and that he will seek a superintendent’s job elsewhere.
“Mr. Pack has always placed the best interest of the students at the forefront of the school system,” said school board Chairman J. Ray Grant in a statement on the district’s website. “His efforts have been reflected in the success of our students and our schools. For that we are and will continue to be most appreciative.”
Pack came out in March in a statement released through Dorer, accusing local reporter Will Davis of the Monroe County Reporter of bullying him into coming out.
“In the last four months my wife and I have been separated and quietly seeking an uncontested divorce. Regardless of my sexual orientation, the personal life of each member of my family has become a discussion point for many in the form of gossip. I have been forced by a journalist that prefers to report on gossip as opposed to news to reveal some facts about myself that I otherwise would hold privately between me, my wife, and my children,” Pack said in the statement.
“Deep personal contemplation, prayer, and a desire to see my spouse as happy as she can be in her personal life, led me to realize that I am gay. I have tried to privately cope with accepting my sexual orientation as not definitive of my identity, but rather a small part of who I am as a father, a person, and a public figure,” Pack added.
Davis, the editor and publisher of the Monroe County Reporter, wrote and published his story on Pack after receiving an anonymous tip that allegedly shows Pack exchanging sexually explicit photos and texts with another man on Grindr. The same tipster also sent the info to TV station 13WMAZ in Macon which also wrote and broadcast a story on the allegations.
Davis told the Georgia Voice in an email that he is not anti-gay.
“I am not anti-gay and the issue is not Mr. Pack’s sexuality. It’s his job performance,” Davis wrote, later adding, “The article is fair and accurate and the facts speak for themselves.”
Davis’ March 18 story, which is behind a paywall:
Monroe County schools superintendent Anthony Pack said Friday it will be up to the school board to decide whether a sexually explicit on-line chat that surfaced with Pack’s photo is indeed his — and what action, if any, needs to be taken.
“Some of those pictures that are supposed to be me are not me,” Pack told the Reporter.
Pack agreed to an interview after an anonymous emailer sent screen captures to the Reporter. Copies were also sent to 13-WMAZ in Macon and school board chairman Dr. J. Ray Grant. The emails show what is alleged by the emailer to be an explicit conversation between two men on Grindr. Grindr is described online as “a networking application geared towards gay, bisexual, and bi-curious men.
Sent from the email address email@example.com, the initial email read: “Here are some interesting screen shots of a conversation involving Monroe Co Superintendent Anthony Pack, from the gay app Grindr. There are additional screenshots that will be sent in a second email. WARNING – the images are graphic.”
Pack told the Reporter anyone can get such photos and noted one of the pictures purported to be him was cropped out of a photo with his family. Other photos depicted nude men, purported to be the ones having the conversation, and certain body parts, none of which could be identified to be the superintendent.
“Those are not my pictures,” said Pack.
Asked if he had ever been on Grindr, Pack said, “I’m not going to respond to that.”
The superintendent said he doesn’t know who might have sent the conversation to the Reporter. One of the two in the conversation had the screen name “Ginger guy”. Pack said after Grant told him about the emails Friday morning he tried to search for “Ginger guy” but could find nothing on the person.
The explicit on-line chat was time-stamped between 3:42 p.m. one afternoon and 10:05 a.m. the next morning. Discussing a possible rendezvous, the person alleged to be Pack told the other party he was on his way to Stone Mountain, adding, “I have a group of 11 people here tomorrow. Have to be super careful if I even can. I am responsible for them.”
The emailer said that conversation started Sunday, Sept. 21, which coincides with a time when Pack was in that area.
The superintendent led a group of about a dozen Monroe County administrators at a GLISI (Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement) conference at the Marriott Evergreen Conference Center in Stone Mountain on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 22-24.
The person purporting to be Pack also said he was “in the education business in Forsyth-Monroe County, 16 miles north of Macon.” He described himself as a “business professional but a Regular Joe at heart.”
[Board of Education] Chairman Grant said he is investigating the matter “so that, when it’s over, no one will say we have been anything other than totally transparent.”
“It is a malicious thing that has happened and I want to get to the bottom of it,” said Grant.
He said if it’s just maliciousness, he wonders what that person will do next?
“And if it’s true,” added Grant, “it’s a problem.”
At Grant’s direction, the Monroe County sheriff’s office picked up Pack’s school-issued computer, cell phone and tablet on Monday to analyze them and make sure there was no content similar to that in that email. Sheriff John Cary Bittick said they’ll also analyze whether anyone hacked into the devices.
When asked directly about the explicitly sexual portions of the alleged conversation, Pack said he is entertaining the idea of hiring an attorney.
Asked what he will tell the school board, Pack said the emails are allegations and it’s up to board members whether they believe he is involved.
“First I’d hear what they had to say, what are they concerned about, what do they want to know, what do I need to make sure they know and let them ask me questions.”
Pack, 47, said it may be that they decide he needs to go on a leave of absence.
“But that’s up to them,” said Pack, “it’s not up to Anthony.”
In January the school board extended Pack’s contract as superintendent for an additional year, through June 30, 2017. Public records show Pack’s salary for 2014 was $151,800.60 and that he was paid an additional $6,145.28 for travel. Pack was hired from Maryland in 2008, replacing Scott Cowart who resigned to return to Carrollton.