Laurel Education Association

In the interest of releasing salary information as it becomes available and verified:

The Laurel School District has repeatedly found funds to give administrators raises at the expense of the teachers and students. One example of this is Mr. Brian Swain.

Mr. Swain was the principal of North Laurel Elementary School. This past summer, he left the district for a principal position at Lake Forest. He was there only a few unsuccessful months and broke his contract to resign. He was then hired back at Laurel School District as the Assistant Principal of Laurel Intermediate & Middle School. However, despite having left the district and despite his mid-year return to a lower position, the district administration gave him a raise for those lesser responsibilities. When Mr. Swain left Laurel as a principal he was earning about $55,000 in state funds and $19,000 in local funds, for a total of $74,000. He returned as an Assistant Principal to a salary of about $54,000 in state funds and $27,000 in local funds for a total of $81,000. This increase was noticeably primarily composed of taxpayer-funded local money, while his state funded portion dropped due to the step down in position.

The Laurel School District had many teachers who had applied for the position, hoping to move up in their careers. These teachers were educated in administration through taxpayer-funded tuition-reimbursement programs and, as new administrators, would have eagerly taken the job with no increase – working at the established rates for secondary assistant principals.

More worrisome yet, Mr. Swain has been paid this inflated salary while using district time to work for another school district. Mr. Swain leaves his job at Laurel Intermediate and Middle School early – still being paid by taxpayers of Laurel – to report to schools in the Seaford School District, where he is paid to perform duties for the University of Phoenix while simultaneously being paid for that time by the taxpayers of Laurel. When confronted with this information, neither the C.O.O. nor Mr. Swain denied the accusations. Several Board members have confirmed that they were not made aware of this second job nor of its requirement for him to leave Laurel while he was still on the clock. Additionally, we have been able to verify through teachers in the Seaford School district that Mr. Swain reports there to observe them during their working (teaching) hours as part of a University of Pheonix program. When Mr. Swain was asked by the LEA about the ethics of taking this raise and this position from a district in need of pinching its pennies, Mr. Swain aggressively verbally attacked several members of the LEA negating team (both professionally and personally.)

The LEA asserts that this is a prime example of the lack of ethics, transparency, and honesty that teachers experience from the district administration and school board. We ask the community to continue to support us, ask questions, attend meetings, and remind the administration who the most important and valuable members of our schools really are: our students. Laurel community, we humbly ask that you take a stand and take this district back. Your children deserve it. Your town of Laurel deserves it. You deserve it.



  1. Thank you Mr. Calio for sharing this information with our community. I encourage parents, tax payers, and teachers to email our board members and Mr. Ewald and demand an explanation. If we wait until the board meeting on Wednesday it will be too late. The board and Mr. Ewald will make up their minds in executive session. I would also love to know how our leaders in the Laurel School District can explain that we have 3 assistant superintendents; with one of them having no educational background or experience. There are at least 4 administrators earning more than $95,000/year while our students do not have their own textbooks. It is time for the district office employees to share the burden of the lack of finances instead of having the teachers and students carry it. I’m tired of hearing how Laurel needs to be “fiscally responsible!” I understand the money is not there. They need to step back and look at these astronomical salaries and give some of that money to our schools for resources. My prayer is that Mr. Ewald will call off the arbitration and join the negotiation committee at the bargaining table. I want what is best for all of the students in Laurel. Our teachers deserve to be treated with respect. They are now working in a hostile work environment and it’s unhealthy for them and it certainly affects our kids’ education.

  2. Wow! Shame on Mr. Swain and his like! Shame on them for taking what is needed for our children of Laurel school district.

    I do realize there is two sides for every story and you, Mr. Swain should probably state your side before you are lambasted, but this story paints a greedy, self-centered person who doesn’t care about the children of Laurel but only cares for the betterment of himself. The money you took from both school districts should be returned plus the monies from University of Phoenix returned. How greedy do you need to be, sir?

    Education is expensive and can never be taken only given and expanded on. Our children need books, good teachers, good environments, and good role models. You have failed them on so many levels. I hope you see the light of not only the season of Jesus Christ, but the horrors of your actions which WILL come back to haunt you.

  3. You know – times are tough everywhere – everyone is feeling pinches in their wallets – except for some privileged members in Laurel’s administration. I haven’t said anything until now – mainly just listened. However, upon reading this information last night, I am finding myself in need of speech. When the whole auditing detail happened a few years back, a more dedicated board and administration would have offered to take cuts in their salaries for the benefit of our children. As a personal note – I feel that there were more people at fault than the one person accused in the auditing procedures – but again – that is my opinion. I have grown up in Laurel, and have been proud to graduate from its doorways and for my children to follow in my footsteps. I feel that it is sad that the teachers are not able to provide learning materials to their students, whether it be textbooks, or simple things like notebooks and pencils. It’s not that the teachers do not want to provide, there is just no funding for them TO provide. How can an administration justify having so many PAID assistant superintendents? If we were a larger district, maybe – but for Laurel? come on! As far as Mr Swain is concerned – I am curious as to why the administration would hire him back after he knowingly left to pursue another job elsewhere – and then REWARD him for not only returning but working for another school district as well? The outrageous salaries of administrators in my opinion would be better curtailed to encourage tangible spending – IE text books, learning materials, and yes the teachers salaries. They are the ones raising our children so to speak during the day – they have earned it! In conclusion, my hope and prayer is that Mr Ewald and the LEA will get down to brass tacks so to speak, and rectify this situation in favor of our very dedicated teaching staff. I can only imagine the horrific challenges they face in todays society …….. but they knew what they were stepping into before they made that decision – and still they CHOSE to become teachers. CHOSE to TEACH OUR CHILDREN. Don’t we owe it to them to at least try to get the respect that they deserve?

      • No board member has the back bone to stand up for my feelings; too cozy to the administration. They won’t listen, it goes over their heads, they are the boss and do not represent the public and doubt if some of them have a clue as to what is going on. They want to frustrate you so you don’t attend meetings; they have succeeded with me. They need not ask me for any help to promote any referendums. I got sucked into the last one only because of liking Mr. McCoy, and they screwed over him. That ended it for me.

      • thanks – wish that I could attend but I have other obligations unfortunately. I have a feeling that it is going to be a very heated meeting though – wouldnt be surprised if the board called cops on standby outside the doors. also would not be surprised if the media was tipped – out to be interesting for sure.

      • The News Journal reporters follow this blog closely and have picked up many leads from our post and comments from the public. I would imagine they are following this story.

  4. one would think it would be possible to take those 4 positions, making nearly $400,000 total a year or possibly more, and combine them in such a way to get rid of at least one position. i happens in other areas involving staff cuts. u can’t say u r being fiscally responsible and have administration incurring such debt from the budget. something is just wrong when teachers get cut over the years and administrators continue to get huge salaries and new hires. just as administrators seem to think they need more people to share the load, teachers with 30 kids in their class and little to no supplies are the ones that need help sharing the load. but we can’t get the teachers the state says we need because local money is not there to pay the local portion. how can parents stand for this?

  5. Also, how can teachers with children in other schools in this district be under such scrutiny for wanting to go see or participate in their children’s awards or special programs, when an administrator, who is double dipping, leaves his duties early to go to another JOB?
    At least this time when he made threats to someone else, he did it openly, with several witnesses, instead of behind closed doors, as he did to me in Sept. 2011.

    • Plenty of witnesses, but may only get a slap on the wrist! Not happening… many individuals are speaking out and Ewald and the board will follow through. This has happened to so many others behind closed doors. Others will speak out too.

  6. the “3 superintendents” the LEA is saying the district has is very misleading and makes it sound like there are 3 on staff. There is 1, with two other admin positions ready to assume the roll in case Ewald is out. Now the discussion of whether there are to many admin positions is worth having for sure, and I think there are to many, but in defense of the district this one time, the LEA I feel is very misleading on this one.

    • in the board minutes,Sept. 18,2013, Dr. Robin Andrus was introduced by Mr. Ewald as the new Associate Superintendent. In the same minutes Jennifer Givens was referred to as the Associate Superintendent of Cirriculum, Instruction, and Achievement.

    • Mr. Lee, no other district in Sussex County have 3 superintendents. Even putting associate in front of it, still makes the person a superintendent. Those people can assume his role without having the title and pay increase. In a “financial crisis”, how can they justify the pay increase? Attached is the district website with titles:

  7. This all goes back to an article in the News Journal several years ago that showed Laurel being the worst administrator to teacher ratio in the state. Some people seem to think that the Laurel School District is an employment opportunity for their family. How often have we seen a new school board member hire family members as soon as they get on the board, be it teacher or non-teacher?

  8. Lots of questions need to be answered here, but one most important question. Why would the district hire Swain back and embrace it after knowing his past “negative” impact on the district? Especially since parents, teachers and other administrators were celebrating the fact of him leaving could possibly turn the district around. Do you think the LSD would call the district he worked out for two months and ask why he would want to leave such an affluent and functional school district? NO!! The community and staff know why, because he was doing the SAME inappropriate actions there that he does and did in Laurel. The only difference is Lake School District wouldn’t tolerate him. Makes Laurel look pretty bad!
    It will be very disheartening if Mr. Ewald and The Board of Education doesn’t see through the issues that are directly in front of them! Time for a change Ewald and you have the potential of making this happen!

    • Thank you, thank you Michelle. For years Mr. Swain’s behavior and lack of morals has been “common” knowledge to the people of Laurel. And sadly, even to the students in North Laurel, who would routinely comment, on the school buses, about his “girlfriends”. But, to my knowledge, no one has ever publicly spoken up about his actions. Yes, you are also correct that parents, teachers and bus drivers were thrilled when he left. I was shocked when I found out that he was back, and even more so when I found out that my hard earned tax dollars gave him a big raise!

      • Donna- it seems as if his actions are ignored. Just know more people will speak out. His same immoral actions are still occurring with staff members.

  9. 2 simple scenarios here;
    First, if Mr. Swain was leaving to go do his second job (no body is disputing this), and none of his supervisors knew this, then we have a big problem.
    Second, if Mr. Swain was leaving and he had his supervisor’s approval, we have a big problem.
    Someone (ADMINISTRATION/SCHOOL BOARD) needs to answer which of these situations is accurate.

    • Bring it on! This would speak wonders of the board if they finally stand up for the community, teachers, and students and realize hiring him back was a poor choice. Look at the issues he has brought to the district since he was hired years ago. Nothing has changed.

      • it seems michelle there is no moral code involved. it is also apparent that this board feels absolutely no responsibility to the town as well as the teachers. they had to know the situation when they made the rehire. they took away their responsibility to see that supplies are provided, meaning they can now blame the principals when supplies aren’t ordered. they made absolutely no attempt to explain any of the salary issues that have been going around. they remain untouchable and running the show just the way they want. teachers are, as one of the associate superintendent said, a dime and dozen. last night was a real eye opener in realizing just how far off center they have gotten and just how unimportant teachers, kids, and the community are.

      • I just can only hope and pray that the LEA pursues some kind of legal action against him. I can personally tell you that he is a threat to the students, teachers and parents of this school district. It was overheard last night, a comment by—-, “that he has problems of his own to deal with”. I personally don’t give a hoot, because HE has brought on ALL of his own problems!

  10. Yes, Donna, brings on his own problems. Maybe if facts leak out about his personal life, it’ll be enough to realize just how much his personal life causes our district to be in danger because of him. Laurel has the attitude that everyone staff member is replaceable. Maybe knowing the board is replaceable also would help. It should be a slap in the face to know Mr. swain left as a principal and came back as an asst principal. It still amazes me that they never called or cared about why they forced him out at Lake Forest. Seems like the joke is on Laurel.

  11. While I put much blame on the administrators who clearly know this is going on, I also have to blame our school board for the part they play in the kind of behavior as well. Why do all five of our school board members continue to make decisions that are NOT in the best interest of our students. I am always hopeful when a new board member is voted in, thinking maybe this person will have the guts to ask questions. That does not seem to be the case. I am so upset over this whole situation. We continue to applaud individuals who are immoral and break every rule without any consequences. I am so tired of the mess. The general public has no idea how hard most of the Laurel school district employees work and how little recognition and respect they get in return. It is so very sad because the real losers in all of this mismanagement is our students. Ask a teacher, custodian, cafeteria worker, secretary, guidance counselor or para what it is really like in our schools. Ask the students for their opinions. Isn’t it time to put kids first? We may have new schools but our best teachers are leaving and so are many of our students. School board….it is time to make informed decisions!

    • Pam, you are so right. Over the past few years, some of the faces have changed, but the attitudes and accountability to the students and citizens surely have not! Out in my neck of the woods, one of greatest disappointments has been the “farmers daughter”.

      • I never saw 5 people stick together on the voting, Never a nay vote. Maybe Mr. Ewald’s strategy of having lunch or dinner with each board member separately works. He lines up his votes before hand with a free meal; a smart politician. Beats a half pint and a $5 bill from the good ole days.

  12. @frank, i still believe one member of that board knows we are being railroaded and has a conscious dislike for the methods being used. it’s just a shame there is not enough backbone to take a stand.

  13. I am led to believe the member you speak of has some personal issues the administration and board are holding over this person. This person often speaks to me about their displeasure with issues, but the votes are always 5-0.

    • I have heard that the LEA has always avoided politics. They were guided by the fear that losing an election for school board might result in policies that sought to minimize the role and standing of teachers in the district and a variety of retaliations such as reduced supplies, involuntary transfers, losses in contract negotiations, and a culture of fear emerging as the primary motivation in the district. I’m asking myself, does the LEA have anything to lose at this point? Perhaps the LEA should hand select a candidate and run them in the next school board election. That way, the board member who feels all alone will be able to express his/her feelings in 2-3 votes, and a year from now in 3-2 votes. Administrative positions can be reduced. Teacher ranks might grow, Aides might make a reappearance. Custodians and secretaries might see raises. And Mr. Swain and Mr. Ewald might be sent packing. Board members are not the only ones lacking a backbone, historically speaking.

      • i know that lea members have gone to people and asked them if they would run. but i don’t think they have ever campaigned for anyone. i would imagine, traditionally, their reasoning was sound and based on the notion that the general public would not look favorably upon them or a candidate supported by the lea. these people are walking a very thin line. it sort of gives the impression that one or a few people are controlling the destiny of the district and controlling all the employees. one thing for sure, anyone who runs better not have any skeletons in their closet or they will just become another board puppet.

    • If this is the case, said Board member should resign their position. They are being ineffective due to personal issues and potential consequences? Is that what I’m reading?

    • there’s a word for those kind of tactics! the greatest good that person could do for the district is to expose who is pulling every body’s strings. unfortunately there is no way to rid ourselves of the bad apples at this time, but exposure would surely take the wind out of their sails.

      • So why do people volunteer to be board members? Have an axe to grind, to become important, to engage in cronyism, or to serve the public good? Which category do each of the current board members fit? Do any serve for the public good? Hard to tell. It is time to wake up and see things as they are.

  14. Unfortunately in today’s society Kokomocrow people run for offices from Little League to public office for all of the above mentioned by you. In my day people ran to serve and make this a better place for all of us, with the exception of a few of course.

    • Perhaps, Frank, the problem is that the community passively accepts candidates who put themselves up for school board seats. Maybe it is time for members of the community to scour the district for people who normally would NOT put themselves up, out of modesty or the wisdom of knowing how thankless the seat is. People who would do an excellent job of representing the community precisely because they have no personal need of the seat. Coaxed, cajoled, supported, coached, whatever is necessary to convince these people to run and then supported by a community effort to get them elected. Might that just be a remedy for the current dismal situation?

      • I agree with this. I would like to find a candidate and work to have him or her elected. It is time to make some changes. I still am not giving up on my community and what is in the best interest of our students….. I have a few people in mind and you have inspired me to start making some phone calls and asking for some honest people to serve. Thanks!

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