District disputes accusations - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

District disputes accusations

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Posted: Saturday, February 7, 2004 6:01 am | Updated: 6:11 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The Scottsdale Unified School District is pointing to Maureen Booth’s own handwriting as evidence there was no conspiracy to accuse a man of inappropriate actions.

Former Sequoya Elementary School principal Booth wrote down in November 1999 information the district describes as "red flags" when she sat with a mother who’d found her daughter, then a fifth-grader, with a phone number that belonged to Gary Savage, an aide at the school.

The 69-year-old Savage, undergoing termination proceedings he hopes to end with a resignation request, told the girl "not to tell anyone" about an invitation to a lunch meeting off campus.

"He asked me some things that made me feel uncomfortable," Booth scribbled as the mother and aide recalled the events.

In an affidavit Savage signed in September, he states he was surprised by Booth’s lack of disciplining him. He also stated after counseling he realized he was "attracted to the girl."

But his attorney Mike DeFine said the district threatened Savage with his job into signing an affidavit he didn’t fully understand, and that while Savage realized it was inappropriate to meet a student off campus, he was never attracted to the 10-yearold girl. As also noted in Booth’s notes, he told the girl "not to tell her girlfriend," but DeFine said he only meant the student should not share her family problem they discussed with the other student.

DeFine, who said he’s never seen Booth’s notes, said Savage uses old-fashioned terminology that was taken out of context.

"All these insinuations are just disgusting," DeFine said. "That’s how he talks. He is about as grandfatherly as it gets. If they really thought there was any sexual predator nature to Gary Savage, they had the duty to report this to the (attorney general’s) office."

DeFine and Booth said the district brought the 1999 incident to light to stack another charge of not properly disciplining an employee in an effort to remove her from the district and allowed attorneys to collect at least $200,000 in fees. The district, however, said the incident was only discovered because of a full investigation into Booth prompted by an accusation she changed test scores and improperly controlled a parent-teacher fund.

"The evidence from Maureen’s notes shows it is not us trying to convict Maureen," said district spokesman Tom Herrmann.

The district released its 2,000-page case against Booth Wednesday. Booth, who describes Savage as a grandfather to students on campus, transferred Savage to Laguna Elementary School after the girl’s mother complained, but then wrote a glowing review of Savage and took him back into Sequoya until he was placed on leave in September.

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