Monday, November 24, 2014

Sarai McNeill Speaks Out


Sarai McNeill


My name is Sarai McNeill, I'm 17 and I go to Southbridge Middle/High School.

On November 12, 2014 I spoke during Public Input at the Southbridge School Committee meeting. I wasn't able to get everything out that I wanted because I was told I was not allowed to say it during Public Input.

As soon as the school committee meeting ended, Mrs. McLoughlin asked if I wanted to tell her anything and I agreed so that way I could explain what I was originally going to say at the podium. She pulled me aside to an area outside of the Council Chambers and she advised me to wait until the people passing by were gone and once she gave me the go ahead, I began. 

“Well, as I was saying, during the Parent Teacher Night Mrs.Earls was addressing the crowd as to what the school's motto was. She said 'What do I always say kids? To be?-' and the crowd joined her and responded with a 'Be nice!' and yes of course some people can see it as childish but when she said this I looked over and saw that the Superintendent and the short bald man who seems to always be with her, were laughing at Mrs. Earls and what she was saying and if you ask me, I dont think that that is very professional and like I said I watched a few of the older School Committee meetings to see how things worked and in the last one I saw that the Superintendent is on some sort of investigation? How could you guys allow my education; kids' education to be in the hands of someone who takes everything as a joke? Even after the allegations were read she had a smirk on her face. I dont know about you but if I was being accused of doing such things as putting someone in a room and threatening them, I would for one not be that calm about it, and yes I understand that you have to remain professional but I definitely wouldn't be smirking about it even if I was trying to be professional. Like, dont you have kids who go to that school?” I then started to tell her a story about how the Superintendent came up to me at school with her assistant after the investigation started, but Mrs. McLoughlin cut me off and said that she was sorry for me “being dragged into this adult drama, because that's what this is, really, a bunch of adult drama.” She then confirmed that the Superintendent was on a 30-Day investigation and she mentioned how even her own kids were made a part of this as well and she wasn't happy about that either. What I was going to tell Mrs. McLoughlin was that when the Superintendent and her assistant stopped me, she asked me how my year was going. I responded by telling her that it was going well. She then got very personal asking how my classes were going and if there was anything I needed because if there was, she would take of it immediately. I told her that they were going fine, and said thanks and walked away. This was weird to me because the only reason she knew me to begin with is because I unintentionally spoke out against her when Senator Moore came to our school last year. It made me feel uncomfortable because it seemed like she was trying to get me on her side or something.

I then went on to say “And the second thing is that a teacher from my school, Ms. Levister, said last year that her and all her friends from Springfield were gonna come to Southbridge Middle/High School to fix the district because our school sucked and she didn't like our principal. Which is fine, but, if you're actually gonna help us then do it, don't walk around bragging about how you're going to do it, actually help us...you know, up until this year I felt like all my hard work was for nothing, and coming from the family that I come from, its hard to be where I'm at. And for so long it goes unnoticed but then I got the John & Abigail Adams Scholarship...people like Mrs. Earls and Mr. Cacace are good, they make sure that our hard work is recognized. They even called us down to the office to congratulate us and take a picture.”

Mrs. McLoughlin then asked me if I heard the thing about Ms. Levister myself, and I said “yes and a bunch of my friends told me the same thing.” She then asked me if anybody told me to go up to the podium and say what I said, and I told her “No. I went up there on behalf of myself, like as a student from Southbridge High.” She then asked me if I knew Dr. Page, and I told her “No, like I said before, I watched some of the other School Committee meetings and I saw one person went to him for help, and I didn't know if that was a thing or not, but I thought I'd try it anyway because you weren't letting me speak.” She then reminded me that there were policies that they had to follow about speaking against people who were up there. I told her I understood and she told me I could find her email on the school website if I had any other issues.

I am sending this to all of you because all I ever wanted was for my story to be heard. I remembered that the School Committee member Mr. Abrahamson mentioned some sort of blog at the last meeting, so I Googled “Southbridge blog” and the Ozone came up. I then saw two articles about me and of course I read them. It really upset me to read that people were saying that my teachers asked me to go up there. I did this all on my own, and if anyone tries to tell you different, they are lying. Also, some people wrote on the internet that it was a “coincidence” that student reps are picked by the principal and I was the only one who ever went to the podium, but after watching the November 17th Town Council meeting, isn't it also a “coincidence” that Mr. Abrahamson used the words “lynch mob” just like the poster on the blog?

If I had known that my rights had been violated when they told me I couldn't speak anymore, I would have definitely made a bigger deal of it that night, which is why I am sending this letter now. I like Mrs. Earls and I liked Ms. Allen too, please don't let what's left of the “good” in Southbridge go.

Sarai McNeill


I sent this to the School Committee, Town Council, Town Manager, ACLU, and the Telegram and Gazette.

34 comments:

  1. Sarai, thank you for coming out publicly about this. I wish more adults had your courage and conviction.

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  2. Have They No Decency?November 25, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    "It is impossible to practice parliamentary politics without patience, decency, politeness and courtesy." Khaleda Zia

    How's the school committee doing? Just ask this young lady what she thinks.

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  3. Child playing in a adult gameNovember 25, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    Ok, Miss McNeill I have some questions for you.
    1) During the parent teacher night, you stated "I looked over and saw that the Superintendent and the short bald man who seem to always be with her, were laughing at Mrs. Earls and what she was saying and if you ask me, I don't that is very professional".

    Are you sure they were laughing? Are you sure if they were laughing they were laughing at Mrs. Earls? You stated you looked over, so you were not in earshot to hear if or what maybe the Superintendent and Mr. Solzak were saying if anything.

    2) You state, "I watched a few of the older School Committee meeting" and in the last one (the Oct. 28th). You saw the Superintendent is on some of investigation. How could you guys allow my education, kids' education to be in the hands of someone who takes everything as a joke?" "Even after the allegations were read she had a smirk on her face."

    Do you know for fact that the Superintendent "takes everything as a joke", do not going assuming she takes everything as such if you do not know for fact. As far as "she had a smirk on her face". You certainly are neither a psychologist nor a specialist in micro-expressions, so do not infer she was smirking.

    3) You state, "the Superintendent and her assistant stopped me, she asked me how my year was going. I responded by telling her that it was going well. She then got very personal asking me how my classes were going and if there was anything, I needed because if there was, she would take care of immediately. Then you go on to state "This was weird to me because the only reason she know me to begin with is because I unintentionally spoke out against her when Sen. Moore came to our school last year." Then you remark, "It made me feel uncomfortable because it seemed like she was trying to get me on her side or something".
    So are you alleging that Superintendent was trying to bribe you or something such as that? You did say "anything I needed because if there was, she would take care of immediately" or if this conversation did take place, was the Superintendent making sure that you have all the classes you need. Any ways was it not one of your teachers you "spoke out against"? What are you trying to allege with the "It made me feel uncomfortable because it seemed like she was trying to get me on her side or something"?

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  4. Child playing in a adult gameNovember 25, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    4) You state, “And the second thing is that a teacher from my school, Ms. Levister, said last year that and all her friends from Springfield were gonna come to Southbridge Middle/High School to fix the district because our school sucked and she didn’t like our principal”.
    I find this statement to hard to believe for one Ms. Levister is a well educate person, a Fullbright Scholar and two if this state that you allege Ms. Levister supposedly made you should have reported it last year, not sit on for year.
    5) When Mrs. McLoughlin was speaking you, you state, “She then asked me if I knew Dr. Page, and I told her “No, like I said before, I watched some of the other School Committee meeting and I saw one person went up to him for help, and I didn’t know if that was a thing or not.”
    Can you tell me what meeting you supposedly saw this on? Because I must have missed that one, I do not recall ever seeing someone go up to Ray Page for help during a meeting and I certainly do not recall ever hearing someone ask him for help and if this happened after a meeting there is no way it was on video. So please let me know the date of that video I am curious now.
    Here is what I think; I think yes, one or more adults put you up to this (which I would hope the School Committee would investigate). I think you do not realize what is going on, because you are getting one side of this mess. I truly hope you do not realize that the two people you are speaking out against are both openly gay, and if you did know this you have just opened yourself up to serious consequences. You also may have opened yourself up to slander (the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation) and libel (a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation). Miss McNeill if I were you I retract this letter, apologize to the School Committee, and do not fall prey to the adults around you. Just remember this letter could come back to haunt you, seriously think about it.

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    Replies
    1. This letter is a clear attempt at bullying and intimidation. As such it is emblematic of the McLoughlin/Gardner regime. Don't let them scare you Sarai - they got nuthin'.

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  5. What a lot of crap. This young woman speaks her mind and you threaten her for that? You should be ashamed of yourself. Sarai, be proud of what you did. It took courage and strength, traits this anonymous poster clearly lacks. There will be no serious consequences and the letter will not haunt you. Years from now you may look back on it as one of the first significant steps in your adult life. I wish you the best.

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  6. Why don't you exhibit the same level of character as Ms. McNeill and sign your name?

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    Replies
    1. Ken all though you have stopped the use of anonymous, you allow the use of pseudonyms and aliases. So why would someone sign their name if they don't have too? And yes things posted on the internet can come back to haunt you (I will email Mr. O'Brien a photo that was posted on facebook (public setting) that was sent to me and let's see if he will post it). It is of three the men at the Nov 12th school committee meeting (note the date on it and the surroundings, and I attended at that meeting and remember seeing the person who posted the photo and the three men at that meeting). Now I will assume such as Sarai McNeill does; I see three men, which I believe work for the school district and they were laughing at her as she spoke (not saying this is true just trying to make a point). I have no idea what they laughing about or smiling about, I was across the hall from them. And as far as coming back to haunt you, this photo was captured by someone because the setting was public (for anyone on facebook to see). That person who captured it, then sent it out to another (namely me), now if that person or I took that image and reposted on facebook or any other social media site it is out there further. In addition, the original person no longer has the image on their page or possibly, they changed their setting on the post. I would say to Sarai McNeill and any other student or person "think first about what you are going to do and if it could back at you" seriously. (Ken I will forward you that picture).

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    2. I am unable to post photos in the course of comments. As far as the use of names, if someone is going to go after Ms. McNeill the way it was done above, then I think that they owe the courtesy of their name.

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    3. Ken email address please, thanks

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    4. As I explained earlier, blogspot does not allow me to publish pictures in the comments section.

      Delete
  7. Bullying Students Now ???November 25, 2014 at 7:19 AM

    To "Child Playing in an Adult game,"
    First, this is NOT a game. The education of 1850 young people is anything but a game.
    Second, your attempt to bully this young woman with this letter is a clear indication that anyone who speaks up about injustice is smeared by the current school leaders.
    Third, we must all brace ourselves for another investigation, more personal attacks and more personnel turnover.
    We never had these issues until McLoughlin and Donovan took over and started the hiring of key school administrators without any input from the stakeholders.

    But I must say, this diatribe from from you is over the top. Bullying and intimidation are all our district have seen from this crew.

    I'm very confident that McLoughlin and Donovan will be ousted in June, should they be arrogant enough to run for reelection. How much damage they wll cause between now and then remains to be seen. But like their pal Buzz, they will most certainly leave us with massive legal bills for their vindictive actions.

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  8. If the comments from Child playing in a adult game are the kind of tactics these people emply in public I can only imagine the ploys they use in private. It is time to sweep away these people and their Gestapo tactics.

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  9. We are not witnessing a child playing an adult game. We are often observing adults playing like children as if the students are game pieces in the adults careers.

    As someone that does not know enough about the local school issue to take sides on this subject, I am frustrated because it is the student population that gets hurt the most.

    My greatest concern is that when the the MCAS scores become more satisfactory, the ugly divisions will remain like small pox scars after the patient is healed.

    One way to get to the truth might be to allow for a students forum before the SC, which would allow people to better understand the various issues behind the problems at this school that unfortunately has our town's name on it.

    As the new school was just opening, Councilor Nikolla proudly declared : "that new school is my baby". I encourage her to run for school committee and apply some if your tough love on the school committee and administrators. Although I am not fond of the woman, I believe she will put the students first, and that she will inspire some of the problematic adult players to take flight like so many serious students have.

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  10. I think I want to know more about what this students thinks about the actual questions with out the twist that Child Paying in an Adult game provided on the questions. Actually. I was fine with the five questions because they were some of the same questions I had about this students claims and they are valid questions in need of being answered.
    Therefore, I'm trying in a much more objective and non-threatening way to ask them. Miss McNeill if you would be so kind as to answer.these questions it really would be appreciated.

    1 Are you sure if they were laughing they were laughing at Mrs. Earls? You stated you looked over, so you were not in earshot to hear if or what maybe the Superintendent and Mr. Solzak were saying if anything. Why could it not of been laughter and conversation about something completely unrelated?

    2. How could you guys allow my education, kids' education to be in the hands of someone who takes everything as a joke?" How exactly do you know this to be true?

    3. What are you trying to allege with the "It made me feel uncomfortable because it seemed like she was trying to get me on her side or something"? Please explain what you mean so you can be better understood.

    4. And the second thing is that a teacher from my school, Ms. Levister, said last year that and all her friends from Springfield were gonna come to Southbridge Middle/High School to fix the district because our school sucked and she didn’t like our principal”. So you are referring to last year and last years principal why bring it up now during this investigation of this years principal and her superior? Why is it relevant now verses when Senator Moore was here and you spoke up then?

    5. I do not recall ever seeing someone go up to Ray Page for help during a meeting and I certainly do not recall ever hearing someone ask him for help and if this happened after a meeting there is no way it was on video. So please let me know the date of that video I am curious now. Can you tell me what meeting you supposedly saw this on? Are you friends with Dr Page's daughter? Do you recognize him like most people do to be the friendliest and safest representative to approach? Again please explain what you mean so you can be better understood.

    Thank you in advance Miss McNeill for your clarifications on these questions we look forward to your answers.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I can respond on Ms. McNeill's behalf (speaking for myself, of course) in regard to point #5 I drew the conclusion when reading her comments that she was referring to Dr. Page's presentation alleging the charges against the Superintendent by school department employees.

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    2. I just learned that Ms. McNeill hasn't responded because she doesn't have a computer. She sent the original letter (and the reply below) by text to my Facebook page.

      Gee, wouldn't it be awesome if someone in a better financial position than I am saw to it that she got a computer for the holidays?

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    3. I have a full set up with windows vista, 17" lcd monitor, mouse, keyboard. My husband re-installed it, it was a customers of his. She is welcome to have it. My cell is 774-230-7902 she can text me. He had a bunch and have been giving them out to people around town the past couple of months. So she shouldn't feel awkward at all about it.

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    4. Thank You. I've passed that info along to Sarai.

      Delete
  11. The pot calling the kettleNovember 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    In the course of all these attempts to discredit the young lady what has been overlooked is the subtext of her conversation with Mrs. McLoughlin. Rather than attempting to get to the bottom of what the student was saying she seemed far more intent on implicating Dr. Page as the instigator of her actions.

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  12. If you listen to McNeill's original attempt to tell her story (http://ozonesouthbridge.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-teen-and-trolls.html ) it wasn't just her reacting to the laughter by the Superintendent and Mr. Solzak. Apparently her grandmother had the same reaction.

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  13. Given the allegations made against the Superintendent by responsible school employees I am far more inclined to believe Sarai McNeill's reporting of the events at the Open House than I am to believe those attempting to cloud the issue now.

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  14. First if all your t last s almost amusing that the young lady can not fairly express herself because there are already conspiracy theories about who put her up to having an opinion.

    Is there anything worth salvaging in that building besides the building? Let's send the rest of the children to better surrounding schools and convince the Board of Regents to use the building as a satellite campus in the State University system.

    It is cruel and abusive to keep this children in such a hostile environment.

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  15. Ken, I hope your ready for another round of blog bashing tonight from banal Brent tonight.

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  16. It is appalling to see these people lining up to bash this young woman. She's on student council, was a representative to the school committee and is a John and Abigail Adams scholar. But, rather than taking her seriously all that these people can do is attempt to diminish her comments and discredit her personally.
    I take her at her word. not merely because she said it, but because she has snubbed the noses of the hypocritical gang that has run this school system into the ground over the last year. She is merely one more voice echoing what the town council has said and what Ken has been pointing out for a year. But because she is saying it from the inside it is especially stinging to these clowns.
    They may have tried to silence her, but they failed. Sarai, take to heart what Rich Logan said - he's right. You go girl.

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  17. To Child playing in a adult game and Heres what I think. Were you present at the Open House? Truth be told I suspect who you are and it’s typical of your modus operandi to try to discredit those who oppose you and sow doubt and confusion. Your effort to attempt to put the blame on Dr. Page is a result of the fact that he sees through your ego and incompetence. I suspect you’ve lost Mr. Olivo and Ms. Congdon and at this point you’re holding on by a thread. Well hang on, because if somebody doesn’t switch sides before then your reign of terror will end in June.

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  18. The time has come for McLoughlin and Donovan to resign and to take Gardner and her merry band of Springfield refugees with her.

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  19. Tolerate Bullying No MoreNovember 25, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    "Children should be able to live a life free from bullying and harassment and it is time that we all took a stand against this." Katherine Jenkins

    Shame our the four school committee members who have bullied this student.

    It's time for the solid majority of good people in Southbridge to speak up and not let this young women be berated and harassed. It's also time for a major change of school committee members.

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  20. Ms. McNeill, don't worry about the angry poster on these comments, its just the oldest school committee member ever to live. He's a demon. He would know about things coming back to haunt him...anybody ask Mr. A why he was forced into retirement from teaching our counterparts in the town to the west? He's very familiar with computers and what not to do with them.

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  21. I can’t believe the poster “child playing in an adult game” is threatening this student, to recant and apologize. I don’t see what that poster’s reference to the superintendent being a lesbian has to do with this. Sarai didn’t speak anything about their sexuality. So if someone is a minority we can’t ever speak out against them without being charged with something? Also speaking out against government officials, which a superintendent is, has different handling of the laws regarding slander and liable. “Our government places a high priority on the public being allowed to speak their mind about elected officials as well as other public figures. People in the public eye get less protection from defamatory statements and face a higher burden when attempting to win a defamation lawsuit. - See more at: http://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-personal-injuries/defamation-law-the-basics.html#sthash.7CkP8wLh.dpuf”
    I believe some of the school committee members are ashamed and embarrassed their children attend Southbridge schools, rather than school choice them or send them to a private school. They sugarcoat everything because to speak the truth about how bad our schools would mean, they admit they: 1.) Couldn’t help fix them 2.) Made them worse 3.) They knowingly send their children to crappy schools.

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  22. Sarai, I am so proud of you. I remember you as a freshman at the old highschool. You have come so far and against so many challenges. A teacher I had in highschool once told me that I should make choices in life based on two things...1) make choices that leave the most doors open to me and 2) make choices that leave me with the least amount of regret. Number 1 doesn't apply here, but number 2 does. I don't think anyone ever regrets speaking their mind in the appropriate way. I DO think that many people regret when they have not spoken up at the right time. Don't let any of the negative comments bring you down. A few years from now you will never have to think, "I should have, could have, or would have", because YOU DID. Good for you.

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  23. To the poster of "Child playing in an adult game" you said and I quote "I truly hope you do not realize that the two people you are speaking out against are both openly gay, and if you did know this you have just opened yourself up to serious consequences." I just wanna know what their sexual preference has to do with anything? I myself am openly gay and have been with my girlfriend for 2+ years and since you say there are consequences to speaking out against them, and the fact that YOU were the one to bring up sexual preferences, then YOU should probably watch who YOU choose to speak out against wisely as well, especially if you're speaking out against a minor.

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    Replies
    1. I am so enraged !

      How low will these evil people go?

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    2. How low? With only 15% of the voters coming out for local elections, don't be surprised if they get elected and go even lower.

      They will ruin any opponent by claiming that challenger is a Lazo puppet that wants to make Bill Bishop Superintendent, and that might work.

      Who decided to spend a $Million on field lighting at the new High School?

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