Investigation: APS principal claims unfounded

The board of education for Alpena Public Schools concluded unanimously Monday night, that complaints filed against district administrators by Principal Tom Berriman are not substantiated by a preponderance of the evidence.

The board based its decision on the findings of an impartial investigator who was brought in to review Berriman’s claims.

Berriman, who remains on paid administrative leave from Ella White Elementary School, filed five complaints of misconduct against administrators as they looked into his conduct stemming from two incidents on November 9, 2022, when he allegedly used “unnecessary and unreasonable force” against a young special needs student who was acting out.

A resolution of support for the investigator’s report was passed by the board after members met in closed session for one hour to review and discuss his conclusions.

The investigator said in one section of his report that “…it is abundantly clear the investigation initiated by Superintendent (David) Rabbideau was predicated upon solid information, and the available video of both incidents provide ample basis for continued investigation and his eventual recommendation…,” which was to terminate Berriman’s employment with the district.

The investigation included interviews with five witnesses, including Berriman.

The board last night, was only acting on the claims Berriman filed against administrators. It did not discuss or come to any conclusion on his future employment with the district.

The board is now expected to speak with its attorney about a date to discuss Berriman’s conduct on November 9. It is not known if that initial discussion must be held in front of Berriman, but at some point the board will speak directly to him about his actions and his future with the district. Thus far, Berriman has asked for that meeting to be held in public versus behind closed doors.

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