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Local public employees paid to stay home

The Springfield News-Sun contacted local governments and found varying level of tracking of employees placed on administrative leave with pay.

The News-Sun reviewed government records to find who was being paid to stay home since January 2007, for what reason and what the cost is was taxpayers. Some examples:

1-day suspension follows 5 days off

The city of Springfield has placed 11 workers on paid leave, at a total cost to taxpayers of $35,534.

One was a police officer who was paid $1,263 while suspended six days during an investigation into insubordination, which concluded with the officer being punished with a one-day suspension without pay. Also, a city purchasing aide spent a week on paid leave after allegedly not showing up for work and violating the city’s drug and alcohol policy. He was then suspended five days without pay as punishment.

Some of the longest amounts of time spent on leave were taken by police officers after being involved in fatal shootings.

“(Administrative leave) is used to keep an employee away from work for reasons like officer-involved shootings, instances where an employee has witnessed a particularly bad event (like an accident where a child was killed), or even an incident when an employee is on sick leave and is released to return to duty by their personal doctor, but the city seeks a second opinion before allowing a return. These are the situations for this group of employees,” according to Jeff Rodgers, city human resources director.

Springfield teacher: $24,169

Springfield Schools has sent 77 people home on administrative leave since the beginning of 2007 at a total cost of $50,062.

The most expensive was a Springfield teacher who collected $24,169 while on paid leave during an investigation for allegedly failing to report child abuse. The teacher eventually signed a consent decree with the state and returned to the classroom under a last-chance agreement. School administrators said any effort to rush the investigation would have opened the district to an even more expensive lawsuit.

“In general, employees are placed on leave when there has been a complaint against an employee or there is reason to believe that the employee has done or participated in inappropriate physical or verbal activity with a student or has misused district property, electronics or funds,” school Human Resources Director Stacey Tipler said in a statement. “We strive to complete investigations quickly and return staff back to their positions when the investigation warrants no findings.”

Shelby County Sheriff: $60,424

Former Shelby County Sheriff Dean Kimpel spent eight months on administrative leave at a cost to taxpayers of $60,424.87. He earned more money staying home than any other area government worker identified by the News-Sun. Kimpel was accused of sexual battery in 2011. The charges were dropped after he resigned and pleaded guilty to abuse of government computers. Now the county is suing the former sheriff in court.

Fire chief: $30,127

Kettering Fire Chief Robert Miles accrued $30,127 while on administrative leave after being cited for drunk driving in October 2011. He resigned in January 2012. This was nearly a third of the $94,809 paid by the city to 11 workers under investigation in recent years, including the former city law director who was paid $10,387 in administrative leave.

Sheriff’s deputy: $27,540

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office paid out $27,540 to one deputy in 2007. The deputy was placed on unpaid leave when drug charges were brought against him out of Eaton, according to county records, but the county had to give him back pay under union rules when he agreed to treatment in lieu of conviction because he wasn’t technically convicted of a crime. He then took medical retirement while under an internal sheriff’s office investigation. This was more than half the $50,322 paid out by the sheriff’s office in administrative leave in the past six years.

Montgomery County commissioners have additionally paid out administrative leave 94 times, mostly during the course of internal investigations, for a total cost of $222,121. The most went to a nurse supervisor who was placed on administrative leave twice, each time for more than a month, between August 2010 and February 2011.

Staff Writer Jim Otte contributed to this report.

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