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Baldwinsville superintendent placed on paid leave after DWI arrest; police investigating

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BALDWINSVILLE, N.Y. — Baldwinsville Central School District Superintendent Jason Thomson has been placed on paid administrative leave after his DWI arrest on Friday, October 7, an official with the district has confirmed.

According to the district, Thomson’s salary for the 2022-23 school year is $203,056.

Thomson was arrested for drunk driving after leaving a high school football game during which he was seen crowd surfing in the student section. Photos and videos of the incident quickly spread on social media.

According to Baldwinsville Police, students alerted school officials that Thomson smelled like alcohol at the game.

He was pulled over on Oneida Street after failing to use a turn signal while turning into a campus parking lot that was not far from the athletic complex, police said.

After a field sobriety test, Thomson was brought to the police station where he admitted to officers that he drank “too much.”

The Baldwinsville Board of Education met on Monday evening after Thomson’s arrest, and after an executive session, they announced the superintendent would be placed on administrative leave.

Following the meeting, Board of Education President Jennifer Patruno announced they are working with Baldwinsville Police as they investigate the incident.

Deputy Superintendent Joseph DeBarbieri will serve as acting superintendent.

Patruno noted that the board supports DeBarbieri as he works with the student’s staff and the community through this challenging time.

Associate with Tully Rinckey, Ryan McCall says the decision to put Thomson on paid leave may not make sense to everyone, but it could be a strategy for the board and a way to avoid getting sued later for back pay.

“Saying, ‘hey guys, listen, we understand there’s some legal allegations here…right now we’re not ready to make a final determination. However, in the meantime, we’re going to be placing the superintendent on paid administrative leave,'” said McCall.

Thomson’s employment contract does say that he can be fired for misconduct, dishonesty, or unprofessional conduct.

“Pursuant to New York State Education Law, they need to have a final outcome of this on a relatively short timetable,” said McCall.

He says this could mean action by the next board meeting.

“Even if he was on non-paid administrative leave, he may very well be able to bring a claim against the school district later on for those back wages,” said McCall.

“I think in this situation, it definitely gives the school board much more oversight when it comes to how they can deal with this matter while it’s still somewhat fresh in the public eye,” McCall continued.

McCall says depending on the criminal history of someone in Thomson’s situation, the possibility of him getting his job back can’t be ruled out. Thomson could also decide to resign.

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