The reasons Dr. Tim Murph was placed on paid administrative leave from Fox Creek High School in May were “allegations and concerns regarding school management and leadership,” an Aiken Standard Freedom of Information Act request has revealed, but specific details still have not been released.
Murph, who has been principal of the Edgefield County high school since 2006, was notified in May by the Fox Creek Board of Directors that a complete investigation into the allegations was forthcoming. Murph was advised not to return to school property without the permission of Greg Hurt, the president of Fox Creek High's board of directors, nor to have any contact with employees, parents or students until such time as the investigation was complete, according to a letter released to the Aiken Standard.
Also, Murph was forbidden from making or authorizing financial transactions or commitments on school accounts, including credit card transactions.
Since the action taken by the school's board of directors in May, all associated parties have refused to comment to the media.
A call to Murph's attorney on Wednesday was not returned by press deadline, nor was a call directly to Murph.
The Fox Creek High School Board of Directors met on Tuesday night. Though there was a closed-door executive session during which personnel matters were scheduled to be discussed, there was no vote or further information provided on the situation involving Murph, Hurt said.
“There was no vote, and we have no further comments,” Hurt said.
The Aiken Standard filed its Freedom of Information Act request on the matter on June 6 and received word the board of directors would comply. The request asked for copies of all public records and emails relating to Murph's administrative leave.
The Aiken Standard received a total of two documents on Wednesday – the letter to Murph from Hurt notifying him of the board of director's decision to place him on administrative leave and a memo to Fox Creek teachers and staff also notifying them of the decision.
Fox Creek High School's attorney, John Reagle, wrote he relied upon S.C. law in his exclusion of documents regarding Murph requested by the Aiken Standard because they related to a “personal nature.”
Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, said the matter is of the public interest and the public has a right to know.
The law allows certain highly sensitive information to be redacted from documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, but it does not allow an entity to withhold the document altogether, he said.
The Aiken Standard will submit a second Freedom of Information Act request.
Haley Hughes is the news editor for the Aiken Standard. She joined the newspaper in 2007 and covered Aiken County government until her promotion in 2013. Hughes, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, hails from Knoxville, Tenn.