Saturday, September 27, 2014

Article Raises More Questions About Southbridge MCAS

Ken O’Brien

Writing in today’s Worcester Telegram, Brian Lee reports that, “Last year, dozens of juniors at the [Southbridge] middle-high school were not afforded their mandated right to twice retake the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Systems.”

In a piece titled 38 Southbridge students missed chance to retake MCAS, Lee posed questions to Superintendent Patricia Gardner and former Southbridge Middle High School Principal Amy Allen-Magnan.

Gardner remarked on Tuesday night that “the oversight was due to ‘a principal working in our schools’ who had signed off that everything was done properly…’.nobody was watching, but in this case, people weren't honest’.” 

The article goes on to say:
Amy Allen-Magnan was principal of the middle-high school for most of last year. In February she went on sick leave until the end of the year and now works as the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment in the Northbridge public schools.
Ms. Gardner was asked if she was pointing blame at Ms. Allen-Magnan.
"I'm trying to be diplomatic," Ms. Gardner said. "It happened last school year."
Reached for comment, Ms. Allen-Magnan said she had seen footage of the Southbridge meeting, and that any references made during the meeting "to prior administration signing off on things that shouldn't have been signed, or any other dereliction of duties that may have been directed personally toward me or my administration, are false," as were other comments and references made Tuesday.
"These innuendos and potential defamation of character are unprofessional and lack propriety in a district where morale is already low," Ms. Allen-Magnan said in an email.
Ms. Gardner said, "Like I said (Tuesday), we have a group of new administrators. That didn't happen on my watch, and hopefully it won't happen on my watch. But I'm going to tell the truth about things."

In the end we are left with a case of she said/she said. Ms. Gardner stops short of naming Allen-Magnan while the former principal denies the incident had anything to do with her.

Signing off on the MCAS testing procedure was not something a superintendent necessarily reviewed, Ms. Gardner noted in the article. However, as she also notes, she was not the superintendent at the time. In fact she was the district’s director of teaching and learning.

Asked if there was any chance that students who were not retested might not graduate, Gardner replied "No, there is not."

However, she went on to observe that if the student scores less than 220, they will have to do a second retake in spring, for which the results will not be back in time for the June graduation. "That's the not-so-good part of it," Ms. Gardner said. "That's why you really want them to have the opportunity as juniors to have the two chances, and to possibly score high enough to get into the EPP program."

The bottom line is that we still do not know who is responsible for this fiasco. What we have is an ongoing cover up; at this point that cover up includes the superintendent, the former superintendent and the school committee members on-board at the time. If Gardner is blaming Allen-Magnan let her say so. If there is someone else, let her name them. And let whoever is named respond.

This cannot be let go, forgotten or excused. I cannot find any case of such an oversight ever having happened before anywhere. It is not enough to pledge that it will never happen again. We have to know how it happened at all, who was responsible and see to it that they are properly dealt with. 

The students and the public have paid enough for this incompetence. It is beyond the time for it to end.


  1. Time for "Real Change!"September 27, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    Is this the same Mrs. Allen that Buzz appointed to the middle/high school principal job without using of the school committee's crack selection process? No job posting, no selection committee, no interviews, no nothing!

    Why was Mrs. Allen "slid" into the position so stealthy? Was it so Buzz could make his tee time at Cohasse? Was it because Mrs. Allen is a pal of McLoughlin? Not really, it was because Buzz wanted to "slide" his old friend Pat Gardner into a nice cushy "Director of Curriculum" position - but Mrs. Allen was in that post.

    Is this the same Buzz that the BobbleHeads think walks on water? The only water Buzz goes over is the Pacific Ocean on his way to Hawaii (during school days).

    We are talking about 14 different school days when testing takes place throughout the school year. Wouldn't the principal, Mrs. Allen, be looking for the test results to help identify what students continued to need assistance throughout the year? Wouldn't the Director of Curriculum, Ms. Gardner, want to dissect the students' tests to see how best to drive instruction (the use of the BobbleHeads "Best Practices)? Wouldn't Buzz want to review the scores to see how well, or not, his newly appointed principal had prepared her students? Wouldn't the school committee want an update on student performance.

    Bottom line - there is culpability on all fronts of this disaster. NO ONE is immune from complete responsibility. Ms. Gardner's comments in today's T & G paint a sad picture of a leader. It WAS during her watch that this happened. Ms. Gardner's lack of character came shining through.

    It was every single person who had a job to do in association with the high school to assist these students to at least have the chance to pass the state mandated tests.

    Solution? Without any further discussion Nembirkow and Gardner should be terminated immediately. The Director of Pupil Services, Ms. Culligan, should be terminated immediately. The four sitting school committee from the 2013-14 school year should resign immediately.

    Since our "leaders" will not take such appropriate actions there remains one hope for any improvement in our schools. The Dept. of Ed. MUST take control of our district - IMMEDIATELY!

    This take-over will provide all of the above-mentioned remedies. It will also result in voiding all contracts with personnel, giving the voters potentially some much needed tax rollbacks.

  2. Time for "Real Change!"September 27, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Where were the DESE oversight personnel all year? Ms. Eva Mitchell from the District and School Accountability Department? Or Dr. Bonder from the same office?

    Everyone in making $100,000+ and no gave a %$#@ about the students!

    Donovan doesn't have enough crocodile tears for this disaster!

  3. The State's position was made clear. Their role is that of Messenger.

    As previously captured on video tape.

  4. Accountability - My %$#@ !September 27, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    It's ironic that Eva Mitchell and Dr. Bonda come from a DESE division called District and School ACCOUNTABILITY !

    There doesn't seen to be anyone wanting to accept responsibility and be held TRULY accountable for harming these struggling students.

  5. Where Are the TV Trucks?September 27, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    I keep looking for the TV trucks on Elm Street. Has the Giant Blueberry called them into town to explain to the world how she, along with the other disgraces, have damaged our children's future? When O'Brien made a poor decision to attack her weight, Big Mac ran to Boston and whined about it to anyone who would listen.

    She did so, she claimed, to help ease the pain her children were feeling about O'Brien's words. How about the pain of not being awarded a full diploma after 13 years of public education because of gross ineptness and indifference by incompetent school officials - elected and anointed!

  6. I think the bobbleHeads need a new Mantrsa . . .

    First they were the "Do the right thing" gang;

    Recently they are the "Just do your job, do your job well" gang;

    Maybe their new mantra should be "Doo Be Doo Be Doo!"

  7. I am quite alarmed at Ms. Gardner's statement to the question asking if any of the 38 students might not graduate. Ms. Gardner stated (according to the article) "No, there is not."

    How can she guarantee that? Is the district going to skirt the MCAS requirement? Is the DESE going to afford these students a waiver? Or is the same "guarantee" that Buzz gave us last year when he promised improved MCAS results?

    If any of these mentioned potential remedies occur, we're going to need a bigger rug. It's pretty full with all the stuff being swept under it.

    Have we learned nothing from history? It was the Watergate break-in that caused Nixon's resignation, it was the coverup. I am deeply watching and digging to see how BobbleHeadGate turns out.

  8. The girls in charge have learned from the past that the public has disturbingly short memories. We can't let go this time. Look at the millions, yes millions of dollars they have wasted.The people of this district cannot afford this kind of waste. We are not Newton or Wellesly (who don't have this kind of incompetence to contend with in the first place). To my mind, the only competent person on that committee is Dr. Page. The others or less than useless. i hope and pray that some competent people step forward to take a seat on the committee. Better yet, declare Southbridge a level V community and have the state take it over.

  9. The only way to keep this alive until we get the action our community and students deserve is to directly address the DESE: Requests to address the Board, written testimony, and other inquiries may be transmitted by mail, e-mail, fax, or telephone to: Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148, Phone: 781-338-3102, Fax: 781-338-3770, E-mail:

    Bombard them with phone calls, emails, and faxes.

  10. Word has that Buzz has been terminated. True? We can only hope. MclCughlin and Donovan are next!!! Gardener right behind.

    Nope, not quitting here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Is this true?
      If so it's a start. But it's far from enough. Not only do others have to go, we need an explanation of what really happened.

    2. Why isn't Hatch next! This woman never cared about the kids.

  11. "Signing off on the MCAS testing procedure was not something a superintendent necessarily reviewed, Ms. Gardner continued."


  12. Just remember that the MCAS issue is just the tip of the iceberg. Casting off Buzz may just be a ploy to try and still the waters. This whole administration must be dismantled. Along with doing the right thing and resigning, they should also reach out to those whose careers have been ruined and seek settlements short of arbitration and law suits that they are bound to lose. This would help them save some money on the legal issues.

  13. it's one thing to damage adults, they have legal recourse. But when you screw over defenseless children you reach a new low. McLoughlin and Donovan need to resign today. Their incompetence is only surpassed by their arrogance.

    How do you for get to offer students 14 days of testing over an entire school year???????

    There is no plausible explanation other than incompetence!

    McLoughlin and Donovan - GET OUT or GET THROWN OUT !

  14. Word is out that Buzz bit the bullet yesterday - terminated! Too little, way too late. Maybe we can refund his $27,000 to the taxpayers - right! They're going to need that money, and a whole lot more, to pay the endless law suits these buffos have dragged us into.

    But Buzz is gone. Now we need Gardner, Culligan, Hatch and Earls to follow. We also need McLoughlin, Donovan, Congdon and Quinney to resign also.

  15. People need to get their children OUT!!! Money talks and the more people send their students out of Southbridge, the louder the message becomes that we won't tolerate this bull**** for our kids anymore!

    1. Hey, 1450 people voted for McLoughlin and Donovan. The voters have spoken!

    2. If I knew then what I know now I would have voted differently!!!!!!

  16. The dates that rmake ups were offered simply proves that Amy Allen was not responsible for this chaos. Make ups happened the week of March 3 to March 10.

  17. Ms Allen-Magnan was the principal of record (tho out on medical leave) during March -which was when the 2nd set of retests are offered/taken; the first set is offered/taken in November; she also signed and gave out the diplomas at graduation; she is 'responsible' for anything she signs her name to; and while she may not have been solely responsible for the MCAS confusion/chaos - she most certainly was party to /involved in the chaos of the last 2 years...

  18. MTS Allen needs to speak out. Where the testooffered and administered or not? Finally step up to the plate and confirm or deny these allegations.
    It's not that hard


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