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Extramarital Affairs News
TEMPE district board chastised chief for affair
The superintendent of the Tempe Union High School District
was chastised in writing by the Governing Board for his extramarital affair
with the mother of a student, according to personnel records released
Tuesday under a court order.
The "letter of direction," which is not considered
a reprimand, directed James Buchanan not to engage in immoral behavior
or take any actions that would negatively affect the district. It also
warned him against using district resources for personal purposes, a reference
to a large number of cellphone calls he made to the woman.
"Be advised that even creating the appearance of
immoral conduct may be deemed to be a violation of this letter of direction
and the terms of your contract," states the one-page letter, dated
Aug. 25 and signed by all five Governing Board members.
Buchanan, whose contract requires him to uphold moral
standards, admitted to having an affair with Maria Alexander, 44, the
mother of a district high school student. Alexander requested an order
of protection against Buchanan in May, saying he began stalking and threatening
her after she miscarried a fetus she claims he fathered. Buchanan, who
is married and has three children, denies harassing the woman.
Governing Board members hired an attorney earlier this
year to investigate Alexander's claims. Board members did not terminate
or discipline Buchanan after the lawyer determined her harassment allegations
were unfounded, instead choosing to issue the letter of direction.
When asked about the letter, Buchanan said his affair
with Alexander ended Feb. 22.
"Clearly what I needed to do was done long before
that letter was written," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday
Buchanan said he hopes his contract is renewed in June.
An evaluation of his 2003 performance is expected to
be completed in January.
The past several months have had a "devastating
effect" on his family, Buchanan said.
"My first hope is that my family can heal from the
pain I've caused them," he said.
Earlier this month, Phoenix police named Buchanan as
an investigative lead in connection with graphic letters and unusual telephone
calls Alexander has received at her home. The letters, which made sexual
references to Alexander and her daughter, were analyzed by police for
DNA and fingerprints. Detectives have made no arrests in the case.
The board's letter was included with Buchanan's performance
evaluations from 1992-2002.
The 1,000 pages were largely peppered with positive comments
from board members and employees citing Buchanan's hard-working nature
and exceptional relationships with district staff.
"Jim Buchanan is professional, knows his business
and commands the respect of those who report to him. He is involved in
the community and not just a part of it," a board member wrote in
Included in the 2002 evaluation, an unidentified board
member makes reference to a Tempe Union employee who voiced concerns about
Buchanan. The employee was not identified, and the comments were not disclosed
in the evaluation.
Another board member expressed dissatisfaction about
the public's perception of the district, indicating Buchanan has fallen
short in relations with the community and the media.
Although he was given the highest ranking of "superior
performance" for his work in 2002, the scores in Buchanan's evaluation
were the second-lowest of his Tempe Union career.
"Clearly I have room for improvement now and in
the years to come," he wrote in a response to the board.
Board members initially refused requests to turn over
the records, prompting The Arizona Republic to file a lawsuit against
the district in August.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge last week ordered
Tempe Union to release the records, saying the public's right to information
about the leader of the 13,000-student district outweighed any privacy
issues claimed by the district's governing board members.
Board member Dan Perkins said he voted to fight the release
of Buchanan's records because it could be damaging to administrators and
principals if they believed their personnel records would be made public
"at will." Rather than a development tool, evaluations could
be misused as disciplinary actions, he said.
"It was a much larger issue than Jim Buchanan,"
said Perkins, who described Buchanan's performance as a "B-plus."
Full credit for this news article goes to: Arizona Republic,