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SOUTH BEACH : LAGUNA BEACH

Superintendent Ready to Return to Work

January 13, 1998|LIZ SEYMOUR

Reed Montgomery, superintendent of the Laguna Beach Unified School District, said Monday that he's ready to return to work. But his fate, after a five-week absence for an undisclosed medical problem, remains in question.

The school board, which held off Montgomery's return last week by placing him on paid administrative leave, will hold a closed-session meeting today to discuss his future with the district. It will be the second meeting on the subject in three days.

Montgomery, 51, wouldn't speculate on whether his job as head of the 2,500-student school system is in jeopardy.

"I guess I'll wait till Wednesday," he said. "I don't know what they're doing."

Montgomery, who has been superintendent for just six months, was last seen in the district offices Dec. 5. Shortly thereafter, he requested a paid medical leave, which the board denied twice, citing insufficient information. In keeping with his earlier statements, he declined to discuss the nature of his illness on Monday.

"I know some of what's wrong," Montgomery said. "I'm not finished being examined yet. It's a very complex issue and it requires a lot of diagnostics."

He acknowledged that his silence has fueled the controversy.

The board began meeting behind closed doors after Montgomery's scheduled examination with a district-appointed doctor last week. Montgomery said the doctor canceled the exam after he arrived. Kathryn A. Turner, the president of the school board, declined to comment.

Montgomery has hired a lawyer to represent him in the matter. He said he's never been fired, taken a leave of absence or been away for more than one week of vacation.

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