5 things to know about Tony Orr, the Hamilton schools superintendent who is on administrative leave

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Tony Orr has been superintendent of Hamilton schools since 2015.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The unexpected move this week to place Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Orr on leave affected one of the largest school districts in southwest Ohio.

Orr was ordered on paid administrative leave Tuesday by the Hamilton Board of Education, which cited an ongoing investigation of the school district’s top administrator.

ExploreMORE: Hamilton school leader says he doesn’t know why board ordered him on leave

Orr said he doesn’t know what the investigation is about but added, “I am confident that I will be exonerated at the conclusion of this investigation.”

In a story first reported by this news outlet, the five-member school board for the Butler County city said in a statement it is “investigating allegations that Orr may have violated board policies.”

Here are five things to know about Orr:

1. It’s not his first experience on leave

As former Northwestern Schools (Clark County) superintendent, Orr was told not to report to work starting in late May 2015 until his contract ended in July and he left to lead Hamilton City Schools. No public allegations of misconduct were made against Orr. He and the board came to a transition agreement, Orr said at the time.

2. Orr has upset area Catholic school families

In 2017, this news outlet was the first to report that Orr sent out a letter to school families in the city that touted his district in comparison to “some non-public schools” while contending — though not directly naming — that Cincinnati Archdiocese Schools and other private learning institutions lack the resources and expertise of the city’s public schools.

ExploreMORE: Orr’s letter irks some local private school families

The letter was part of a new promotional campaign by Hamilton Schools to solicit private school families into considering enrolling their children instead in the city’s public schools.

The letter elicited a sharp response by some school families from the city’s Catholic Badin High School.

3. Orr is no fan of the Ohio Department of Education when it comes to mandated testing of students

Since his hiring in 2015, Orr has been the most vocal superintendent in Southwest Ohio in criticizing state education officials and their annual report card on public school districts.

ExploreMORE: Orr blasts state mandated student testing

Orr’s tenure as the city’s school leader has been marked by both incremental success in some academic areas but also contentiousness with state officials, whom he has criticized frequently for mandating too many student tests and then unfairly using those results to compile what he describes as annual report cards that misrepresent the city schools.

4. Orr replaced a local legend

His hiring in 2015 came after long-time Hamilton Schools Superindent Janet Baker,  who oversaw the 10,000-student district for 23 years and supervised the construction of 10 new school buildings during her tenure.

5. In 2017, Orr had his contracted extended until 2020

His annual salary is $156,818.

One board member, Tom Alf, voted against the contract. In 2015, Alf had joined the board in a unanimous vote to hire Orr. He declined to explain his “no” vote in 2017.

ExploreMORE: Orr wins contract extension despite one ‘no’ vote
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