Friday, November 16, 2012

New Details Emerge About Meeting That Put Ely On Leave

Sources close to the decision to place Southbridge School Superintendent Eric Ely on paid administrative leave have provided new details regarding the matter to The O’Zone.

Initially the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reported on November 14th, in an article titled “Southbridge school committee votes to put superintendent on leave”, that, “The decision was made during an emergency meeting held in executive session at the district's administrative building on Cole Avenue, the former high school.” 

The O’Zone has learned from those sources that this initial report was not entirely accurate.

Initially it was the belief of the committee that its meeting would be held in executive session due to the presence of Mr. Ely. The Telegram reporter was told it would be a closed meeting based upon the assumption that Mr. Ely would be present.

However, state law requires that such actions require 48 hours notice to the employee in question as well as the right to legal representation, unless such rights are waived. According to our sources, Mr. Ely had initially informed the committee that he would be present and consequently the committee assumed that he would waive his rights. It was upon this basis that the committee informed the Telegram reporter that the meeting would be held in executive session.

Subsequent to this notification, however, Mr. Ely informed the committee that he would not be present at the meeting. That meeting has now been posted to a future date. 

As a consequence of this timeline of events, the meeting was, in fact, an open public meeting.

At the meeting the School Committee counsel advised committee members that a complaint had been filed against Mr. Ely. The details of the complaint, however, were not specified. The counsel merely indicated that the complaint was “serious”. Beyond that, the committee’s counsel would only characterize the complaint as a matter of “misconduct”. It was thus, on the advice of counsel that the school committee voted, reportedly unanimously, to put Mr. Ely on paid administrative leave.

After the meeting school committee chairman, Patricia Woodruff, issued the following statement: 

“The Southbridge School Committee held an emergency meeting on November 14, 2012 and placed the Superintendent of Schools on administrative leave in connection with a complaint received by the School Committee. The matter is under review by the School Committee and School District counsel. Terry Wiggin, the District’s Director of Finance and Operations, has been appointed Temporary Acting Superintendent pending appointment of an Acting Superintendent.”

An additional component is provided by a report of The Times Union of Albany, NY, on November 15th in its article “Ely put on leave in Massachusetts”. In that article they state, “School Committee Chairwoman Patricia Woodruff said Thursday that the seven-member panel took action Wednesday at an emergency meeting after receiving a complaint the day before.
She declined to detail the complaint, but said it was not criminal.”

Thus we are left with a situation where, based upon information from previously reliable sources, the school committee, acting upon the advice of counsel, unanimously placed the Superintendent on paid leave for an unspecified complaint of non-criminal misconduct.


  1. I just looked on the school site and this meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday. I hope the public will be informed as to what is going on. We should not be left in the dark.

  2. This is a very serious action to be taken by the School Committee, but it overshadows the previous allegations made by a former assistant principal. The question is: will this incident, as serious as it is, be used to sweep the other under the table? Also, how much money in lawyer fees and settlements will both of these incidents rob from the education of our students.

  3. Thank you School Committee for finally getting rid of him! Step 2, get rid of Perreault and our students will finally settle down.

  4. Atleast we have one committee in town doing their job. Town manager lies n misleeds TC n no one cares. Superintendent does wrong n gets put on leave while complaint gets investgated, now thats a real body doing their job.

  5. To the commenter about the "set up":
    I cannot publish such claims without attribution or corroboration.
    If what you allege is true and want to remain anonymous, I suggest going to the appropriate officials.



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