School officials in Saugus Wednesday said that Joseph Diorio, the principal at Saugus High School, has been placed on paid leave pending an audit of the school’s finances.
Diorio has been on leave since Dec. 18, the superintendent of schools said in a statement. School officials had not explained the reasons for his absence, prompting widespread speculation and spurring students to post “missing” fliers around town.
The superintendent, Richard Langlois, said auditors will look into the "management of certain financial and other affairs of Saugus High School."
"This leave is not disciplinary and no conclusion has been reached regarding Mr. Diorio," he said. "At this point Mr. Diorio is cooperating during this inquiry."
Through his office, Langlois declined further comment.
In a statement, Langlois asked the public to "refrain from any speculation or conjecture" and said he would have no further comment until the audit was complete.
Steve Castinetti, vice-chairman of the board of selectmen, criticized school officials for failing to explain Diorio's absence until now, even to town leaders.
"We certainly should be brought into what’s going on, and I don’t know why we haven’t been," he said. "I think the townspeople and taxpayers have a right to know what's going on, especially those with children at the school."