Principal placed on administrative leave
Derrick Donnell, principal of Cape Coral Alternative Learning Center West, was placed on administrative leave Tuesday while the district investigates an unspecified allegation.
The action is routine while an internal investigation takes place.
Neither the district nor Donnell could provide details while the matter is under review.
However, Donnell did say that, generally, the allegation is that he has “done something dishonest, which is hard for me to stomach.”
“What is being alleged is really frustrating for me,” Donnell said Wednesday.
He added that a principal who is not being honest would be a huge concern.
“You have to investigate that for the safety of the district and employees,” Donnell said.
The investigation is not “about the who, it is about the what,” he said.
Joseph Donzelli, district spokesperson, said administrative leave is a standard procedure that takes place after allegations are made to allow the investigatory process to take place.
“As per district procedure, if someone is suspended or placed on administrative leave, initially it is done so with pay,” he said. “The board can take further action if the facts of the case warrant to change it to leave without pay.”
Donnell said he has no problems with the process; it is just unfortunate of how it got there.
“I am familiar with the process,” he said. “As a principal, I am normally on the other end.”
The Lee County School District will determine what steps, if any, should be taken after the investigation is completed, officials said, adding no specific time frame has been established.
Donnell also is a Cape Coral council member. He has served on the elected board since 2007.
He has received support from his peers in the city.
Mayor John Sullivan said it was a surprise to hear that Donnell had been placed on administrative leave.
“I don’t think Donnell did anything wrong or broke any laws because he is not that type of person,” he said.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said Donnell is a “stand-up guy,” and any dealing he has ever had with him “has always been professional.”
“We are all kind of surprised that anything has come about,” he said.
McGrail said it is pretty tough to comment on the investigation because he does not have any information as to what it entails. He expressed that all the council can do right now is “wait and watch and see what comes from whatever they are investigating.”
“My sincere hope is that Derrick can get this issue laid to rest and get on with his life,” McGrail said.
Donnell was the principal at Alternative Learning Center West from May 2006 through June 2009 before he transferred to Caloosa Middle School. In June 2010, he returned to the Alternative Learning Center.