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Members of the Albany School Board voted unanimously in a special meeting Thursday to terminate Superintendent Jim Golden's employment contract, based on unspecified charges provided to him in writing on May 21.

Golden's attorney, Judy Snyder of Portland, called the decision "erroneous" and the result of a "flawed process." She said Golden intends to file civil litigation to recover damages.

The board's decision takes effect immediately and involves no settlement fee or financial payout beyond the paid leave Golden has been receiving since placement on administrative leave on March 27.

The board placed Golden on leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation into unspecified complaints against him.

Board members have declined to comment on what the allegations entailed, who made them and when, and whether they were found to be credible. Asked to elaborate on the decision made Thursday, Board Chairman Micah Smith again said he could not comment, citing "legal confidentiality restrictions related to personnel records and personnel matters." 

Golden was present at Thursday's hearing, which was closed to the public. During his comment period, he read from, and elaborated on, a written statement, which Snyder provided to the Democrat-Herald following the board meeting.

In the statement, Golden refers to three specific charges by the school board: gross insubordination, neglect of duty and conduct seriously prejudicial to the district. 

"The allegations described in the Notice of Written Charges are false," he states, adding: "If anyone had complaints about my work in the District or how I conduct myself, no one has brought those concerns to my attention." 

According to Golden's statement, the gross insubordination charge appears to stem from using "vulgar language" and alleged failure to comply with a board directive regarding it, which Golden said he never received.

The neglect of duty charge appears to relate to employment decisions made in connection with administrative positions, particularly at North Albany Middle School and South Albany High School.

Golden's statement indicates he wasn't questioned about his hiring decisions and that no one noted any policy conflicts at the time. "And, as I mentioned, there is documentation which confirms the approval of some of these moves in emails and in meetings with board members," he wrote.

Golden "unequivocally" denied engaging in conduct seriously prejudicial to the district. In his statement, he referred to allegations that he had made comments about the gender of certain administrators, excluded administrators from meetings based on their gender, created a work environment in which women were treated differently and retaliated against anyone who challenged his decisions. 

"I have made it a central part of my work to diversify our staff and to try and balance our workforce in the district so that it better reflects the students who attend our schools," he wrote. "It is just patently untrue that I am prejudicial in my hiring and promotion practices." 

Smith said the board cannot comment on the statement directly but stressed the board "did conduct a thorough and fair investigation" and that due process was provided before terminating Golden for cause.

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