Saturday, October 26, 2013

This Cannot End Well - Video: Southbridge School Committee Meeting October 22, 2013

The inauguration of any new political leadership sets the tone for their subsequent tenure.

In this regard, the assumption of the leadership of the Southbridge School Committee by Lauren McLoughlin could not possibly be any less auspicious.

It was characterized in its hallmark moment by what would be generously characterized as ignorance, but more likely as outright deceit.

Most disturbing was the regrettable involvement in this exercise by as distinguished an officer of the court as Demetrios Moschos of the firm Mirick O’Connell. I can only wonder if he will have the integrity to admit his error and thus require those responsible to hit the reset button.

Specifically I am addressing the elevation of Lauren McLoughlin to the position of Chairman of the Southbridge School Committee and the manner in which it was done.

Readers of the O’Zone will know that I have been addressing the issue of the selection of a new chairman since the night that Mrs. Woodruff resigned from the Committee as well as from the chairmanship.

I know that members of the School Committee were aware of the comments made in that and other articles.  I have no doubt that such awareness led to the comments by the acting chairman introducing the remarks by Attorney Moschos.

To refresh the memories of those who watched the meeting and for those who have not seen it, here is the relevant portion:

The operative portion of Attorney Moschos’ statement is as follows:

The policies of the school committee discussing this subject are general in nature. So there is no specific guidance that has been provided by those policies. And under the policy if there is no specific guidance on a particular matter, parliamentary matter, that you go to Robert’s Rules.
Robert’s Rules state that the office of chair, unless specifically provided for under the policies of the committee,  is handled through the assumption of the office by the vice-chair, and that the vice-chair automatically becomes chair upon the vacancy becoming effective which has been accomplished in Southbridge because the resignation of the chair was accepted, was filed with the City Clerk, Town Clerk,.
Therefore there is no election for the office of chair because we had a vice-chair and so the vice-chair assumed that office.

The key words are, “there is no specific guidance that has been provided by those policies. And under the policy if there is no specific guidance on a particular matter, parliamentary matter, … you go to Robert’s Rules.”

However, Policy BDA of the Southbridge School Committee (found here on page 10) states:

File: BDA
The School Committee, at its first regular meeting following the town's annual elections, will elect from its membership a chairman, a vice-chairman, and a secretary all of whom will hold their offices for a term of one year, or until a successor is elected.
A majority of the members will constitute a quorum. The election will proceed as follows:
1. Nominations for the office of chairman will be made from the floor. The chairman will be elected by a majority roll-call vote of the members present and voting. If no nominee receives a majority vote, the election will be declared null and void and nominations will be reopened.
2. Upon election, the new chairman will preside, calling for the election of a vice-chairman, secretary and recording secretary, in order. The procedure used for their election will be the same as that for electing the chairman.
Any vacancy among the officers occurring between organizational meetings will be filled by a member elected by the School Committee. The election will be conducted as described above. [emphasis added]

I would welcome anyone who can explain to me how the above highlighted portion of the School Committee Policy Manual provides, in Attorney Moschos’ words, “no specific guidance” as to filling a vacancy in the office of chairman. If it is specific, which I am convinced that it is, then it supersedes Robert’s Rules which then become irrelevant.

If the policy provided no specific guidance, why was this the procedure (i.e. an election) that was followed when Mary Ellen Prencipe was elected to be chairman, having been vice chair, following the resignation of Lisa Tarantino?

I will leave the matter there. I will await, fruitlessly I am certain, a redress of this wrong. I say fruitlessly, because we have all too often witnessed this kind of violation of process by the previous leadership of the town council with their total indifference to such criticism. I have no reason to believe that the prevailing hubris of the current leadership of the School Committee is any less.

With that having been said, here follows the whole of the October 22 School Committee Meeting. Other issues with this meeting have already been addressed in an earlier article.


  1. This is the second time in recent years this law firms lawyers have presented from the podium trying to convince us of something that we all know better about. It didn't work when Attorney Kimberly A. Rozak tried to defend the firms losing the Jacobson case and in light of school committee policy BDA it certainly isn't working now either!
    Taking a proper vote is a lot less expensive than paying for such misguided legal advice. Time for an inexpensive Mulligan on the SC chair and vice chair positions.

  2. The most recent MCAS scores show that our school district is in crisis. People are trying to prevent students from being poached by Quaboag by changing state laws. And what do we have. A total lack of experience. In yesterday’s Southbridge News it was reported, “Though still relatively new to public office, the new chairman and vice chairman have experience in the school system. “We’ve been behind the scenes before, working really hard and heavily involved with the PTA,” McLoughlin said.”
    But when Karin Sheridan, the school system’s Director of Finance needed guidance yesterday on the district’s past procedures for handling accounting for transfers the current members of the committee were clueless. Ms. Sheridan had to turn to the former chairman and vice chairman for answers.

  3. In light of the death of two teachers over the last couple of weeks, MCAS scores are not the only problems that face SMHS (or any other school system). There are teachers who are in fear of both the administration and some of the students. What is being done about student on student and student on teacher violence in the schools? What is the suspension rate (both out of school and in-school) and what are the offenses?

    1. Time to be held responsibleOctober 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      Well a week ago Friday there were over 30 students sent to the middle school in-school suspension room during the day. One eighth grade student was also removed in handcuffs by the Southbridge PD. That was the middle school side - what do you think transpired on the high school level???????????????
      How's that one principal thing working Mrs. McLaughlin and Mrs. Donovan?????????????

  4. Since there is little doubt that the committee violated its own policy they leave themselves open to a point of order similar to that raised by Councilor Logan in the town council in 2010. See town council minutes of July 19, 2010, Page 6.
    Conceivably, after a seventh member is appointed, four members could vote to enforce such a point of order overturning the appointment of McLouglin as chair. The door would then be open to apply policy BDA and elect new officers.

    1. Such an action would also invalidate the election of Donovan as vice chair since that position was never vacant.


    2. "The only exceptions to the rule that a point of order must be made at the time of the breach arise in connection with breaches that are of a continuing nature, in which case a point of order can be made at any time during the continuance of the breach. Instances of this kind occur when:

      (a) a main motion has been adopted that conflicts with the bylaws (or constitution) of the organization or assembly,*

  5. More potential for chaos as a result of novices who try to go around the rules. Just what we don't need.

  6. Is the meeting tomorrow night at 6pm between the Town Council's Education and Human Services Subcommittee and the School Committee going to be broadcast on Southbridge Cable TV? It's being held in the council chambers so they have the ability to.

    1. I don't know. It's not on their schedule.

    2. McLaughlin and Donovan pulling another fast one. These two are the most incompetent, despicable school committee members since Tarantino and Laliberte!
      Do you'al miss Jovan and Lazo yet?

  7. Whenever a law, ordinance or policy is violated the investigators search for a motive. Murders, robberies, assaults, and coups are always perpetrated for a reason - a motive.

    So what was the motive for the coup of McLaughlin and Donovan and their push to ignore established school committee protocol and policy for moving forward when a coward runs mid-term?

    Very simple . . . these two PTA girls promised the Southbridge Education Association a favorable contract if they worked to get them elected. And work for them the SEA did.

    Now it's time to pay their debt. They sold out the students when they voted to extend Ely's contract after being school committee members for less than 72 hours. They continued to sell out the students when they voted to restructure the new 75 million dollar school with one principal, one who was not certified in accordance with Dept of Ed. requirements to be a grade 6 through 12 principal when hired.

    Now they are selling out the townspeople and taxpayers by taking inappropriate control of the school committee leadership and negotiating sub-committee.

    Ladies - YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. This writer will not relent. I will expose you at every turn an point out when you are not doing the right thing for our students and community!

  8. Even assuming the motives you ascribe are valid, there was no need to engage in the subterfuge that took place to achieve them.
    First, do you believe that, had an election been held per the policy, the outcome would have been any different?
    Second, there was no reason to suspend the rules to allow McLoughlin to continue as chair of the Negotiations subcommittee. As I‘ve pointed out before, the prohibition only applies to special subcommittees not standing subcommittees.
    These actions are more likely the result of ineptitude than any nefarious plan.
    As for the rest of your remarks, there would appear to be the bitterness of a personal grudge at play.

  9. More chaos in the district this week. The recently appointed Director of English Language Learners (ELL) has "resigned" after being originally terminated. She is receiving 3 months salary and not working during this period.

    Why? Why is she really leaving and why are the taxpayers shelling out 3 months pay for no work?

    Word has it that she met with the Superintendent to go to bat for one of the PAL educators, the math coordinator. She is on PAL because she had issues with the Director of Operations, Roland Gaboury. Mr. Gaboury was put on PAL last year for allegations of inappropriate contact with this same female math coordinator. Mr. Gaboury also recently files criminal harassment charges against the math coordinator. Really?

    Mr. Gaboury is also the same person going to court next week for serious allegations of driving under the influence resulting in a motor vehicle accident in Spencer.

    The students and teachers are loosing another quality educator in the ELL Director. The math coordinator is a top notch, successful educator sitting at home waiting for resolution. The district is $$$ on salaries for non-working employees. The district is also loosing the confidence of the community.

    It is time for major changes: Mr. Nembirkow and Mr. Gaboury should be gone immediately. We just can't continue to allow this adult bullying to continue; nor can we afford the dollars for PALs, lawyers, law suits, and "go away-quietly money.

    Hard to believe what has happened to our district in such a short period.

    I urge this blog moderator to follow up on these outrageous actions.

  10. I too am one of the victims of the bully. What happened to the formal grievance that the union presented against Roland Gaboury? How many complaints were there? At least 5 teachers, students and parents provided evidence and complaints. "Buzz" showed the complaints to Gaboury, he denied them obviously all of the teachers, parents and students are lying. How uncomfortable are all of the people who filed complaints? Some of them have even been confronted by Gaboury. All of us continue to wonder how does this man continue to manipulate everyone? It is time for some justice.

  11. Oh my goodness ! Is that why Mrs. Abate has been out of the classroom since Sept. ? My granddaughter is a student in her class & she is very upset about her math teacher being gone (with no explanation) She feels lost without any consistency (different substitutes) How can the Board of Education stand by & do nothing about this atrocity ? This is a dedicated teacher who not only is an excellent educator but is also a caring person who volunteers her time in many other activities in Southbridge (even though she is a resident of another town) The students are the ones who are suffering the most. Please get this resolved so they can get back the teacher they love.

    A concerned Grandparent

  12. I for one am tired of this crap! We have exceptional teachers being fired and our children are left flapping in the wind with no consistency. We as parents deserve to know what the hell is going on in our school system!! Unfortunately no one will tell us what is going on and why.

    So now we wonder why our schools are performing as they do in relation to federal and state criteria. I for one, believe it is time for the state board of education, the attorney general hell even the marines to come in and audit and investigate the school board and school system administration.

    Personally, I do not know who is right or who is wrong in the situation with Ms. Abate but if the whispers and rumors floating around are even remotely accurate, she should and probably will sue the district. If they are correct I personally hope she will be able to retire to the beach somewhere on the proceeds of that lawsuit.

    I am tired of being treated like one of our children, we deserve and we should demand answers and accountability from the people in charge and who are paid by our hard earned tax dollars. The only concern all of us should have is what is best for our children and their education. Not who drinks with who or who they play golf with on the weekend.

    A pissed off parent..

    1. Well here's an update to your concerns . . . Mrs. Abate was received her termination notice on Friday, Nov. 1, she is done. Veteran social studies teacher John McHugh received his termination letter recently. Veteran guidance counselor Ms. Dargie remains on paid administrative leave pending a hearing in December. A veteran special education team chair was on PAL since February; not sure if and when she received her termination letter.

      English language learners director, Sarah Jorden took three months pay and left her job this week rather than be "terminated." So the taxpayers pay another person for not working. But even worse, the students and ELL staff have no leadership. This is sad, especially for a sub-group of our district that has such significant educational needs.

      Can there really be so many bad people in our school district necessitating termination after so many years of successful and dedicated work with our students? Dr. Dale Hanley didn't "terminate," she offered guidance and suggestions for improvement. And the district improved during her tenure.

      Then came the golfing superintendents: Ely and Nembirkow. I wouldn't mind if these golf dates were on the weekends. But do you really think Buzz drives back to town from somewhere in western MA to golf?

      We all know how the Ely reign worked out. Investigation of, and instant resignation by, Ely. Expensive pending discrimination litigation by the former principal for his forced retirement by Ely.

      As a parent and taxpayer you should be "a pissed off parent." There will most assuredly be a significant lawsuits to follow - and they will prevail. It's going to get ugly and expensive, not Buzz's problem. He will be gone by the time there is final resolution to the suit. Furthermore, Buzz, like way too many high-paid town department heads, does not live in Southbridge. Our town is not good enough for them.

    2. Does Buzz have to pick up Roland Gaboury at home for their golf dates? Maybe Mr. Gaboury will get his license back in court next week. The courts are very sympathetic to school official DUI/accident resulting charges.

  13. As a parent I sit back and I wonder why these things happen. I know that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But I work hard and try to help my children get the best education that I can give them.
    I admire those people who have the time to give to work without pay to manage our town and specially our schools. But I am unable to understand why anybody would run for such a job and then start caring more about proving they know more than anybody else when they are so obviously wrong. I watched the video of the lawyer and read the quotation from the policy manual and I don’t need a college degree to see that what was done wasn’t right.
    Now, it may not be a really big deal, but if these people will be so bold about something that small, what will they be doing about the things that really matter? I just wnt my daughters to hve a chance and I don’t have a real choice but to send them to the public schools. All I can say is that if you don’t know what your doing and all you care about is yourselves then please go away and stop hurting my kids.

  14. After reading some of the above something just does not jive with what the Superintendent said about the teachers who left during the Summer being "not a good fit " for Southbridge. Did anyone do exit interviews?

    1. I left out of total frustration and embarrassment as to what was happening in the district. No exit interview for me.

  15. Go get em Lauren! They all need a good slap.Right in the MOSCHOS! Its about the kids and cleaning up wright don't forget that. Dang


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