Patrick: Ex-Mass. early education official, Sherry Killins, violated no rules
BOSTON (AP) -- Sherri Killins, the former state commissioner of early education and care, did not violate any rules by participating in a school superintendent training program or living in Connecticut, Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday.
Killins stepped down from her post earlier this week amid questions about whether her participation in the program, which required her to spend significant time in the town of Ware, was distracting from her ability to perform her nearly $200,000-a-year state job.
Killins' abrupt departure comes at a time when the administration is pushing the Legislature to approve nearly $2 billion in new taxes to support transportation and education initiatives, including a substantial increase in funding for early childhood education.
During an appearance on WGBH-FM, Patrick said a review conducted by his administration concluded that Killins had done nothing wrong. The report prepared by Secretary of Education Matt Malone has not yet been made public.
Patrick said he was aware of Killins' interest in becoming a school superintendent, but that she was using vacation days and other time-off entitlements to complete the mentoring program.
State officials can use their personal time to pursue other interests, Patrick said, noting that he wrote a book in his spare time and that it did not distract from his duties as governor.
The Boston Herald previously reported that Killins had spent as much as eight hours in Ware on some recent days.
Killins was "a fine and strong and able commissioner of early education and did her job and did it well," he said.
The governor said there was no rule requiring top state officials like Killins, who lives in New Haven, Conn., to reside in the Bay State, but added: "Obviously I would prefer that she was living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
Patrick also defended his administration's decision to allow Killins to remain on as a consultant for two months at her full state salary, saying the agency needed help transitioning to her successor.