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Thread: Middlesex Superior Court rules in favor of School Committee (Superintendent Eval.)

  1. #1
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    Default Middlesex Superior Court rules in favor of School Committee (Superintendent Eval.)

    On the off chance that people may wish to comment on the Superior Court's ruling ...

  2. #2
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    Great! Just we need on the SC, more privacy

    By the way, how much did Wayland have to pay in legal fees to achieve this "victory" for the taxpayers? I fear the answer...

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    I agree.

    I would like to know how much this lack of transparency is costing us.

    Jeff D, can you help us with that?
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Jeff and John -

    Can you really see no legitimate privacy principle in this matter? Personal privacy is the principle behind this exception to the Open Meeting Law. Would you feel the same way if it were your performance evaluation under discussion? If so, that would be a first in my 37 years in labor/employment law.

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    Steve,

    Thanks for posting. It's nice to have some new people on here.

    I understand your point.
    Frankly, I would not have noticed and would not have cared about the Superintendent's review prior to about 6 months ago.

    At that point, I just assumed that the SC and the Administration were doing a great job and everything was hunky-dory.

    However, after seeing what happened during the Loker debacle - how it was presented, how it was defended, how so many questions were ignored or answered with non-answers, how totally botched the entire process seemed to be, how defensive the members became and how non-transparent it was in so many ways- many people have become interested in just what is going on with our SC.

    Yes, I understand, and I do sympathize with anyone not wanting to their evaluation made public. But when the SC has to fight to keep something private that otherwise would be made public, I have to wonder why. Why is it so important to them?

    Since our Town Administrator's evaluation was discussed on camera in public hearings, I don't understand why it should be any different with Dr. Burton.

    And I have to wonder what it cost us, the taxpayers in whatever legal fees were incurred in order to keep this private.

    As taxpayers, we have a right to know this.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    John,

    Even if I were to agree with your characterization of the Loker matter -- which I don't -- it doesn't justify a breach of the fundamental privacy principle (or, for that matter, of the desirability of unfettered candor on the parts of those who are evaluating the performance).

    I also disagree with your characterization of the School Committee "fight[ing] to keep something private that otherwise would be made public". The School Committee did not "fight" to go into Executive Session in 2004 (long before the Loker matter) to discuss the Superintendent's evaluation. This was its lawful prerogative and was its routine practice, followed during each of my 15 years (1982-1997) on the School Committee. The "fight" was thrust upon it when a reporter complained of an Open Meeting Law violation. If the reporter and the state agency personnel had understood the statute better, there would have been no litigation. The School Committee was merely defending its lawful prerogative and the privacy/candor principles that are important for a meaningful performance evaluation. I'm proud of the School Committee for not abandoning these principles in the name of expediency.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 07-11-2008 at 07:28 AM. Reason: to fix typo

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    Default Town Administrator and Appeal

    It was said above that the town administrator Fred Turkington had his performance evaluation in front of the camera. What I remember was that we interviewed at least 4 gentlemen and then narrowed it down to 2; one from Canton CT and the other from Lexington MA. This process was infront of the camera and wide open.

    We selected Mr. Turkington and when it came time to have his performance evaluation we each submitted commentary to a special form which was then integrated into a complete form (by the chair) and then his review was in open session. When it came time for salary discussions and contract renewals then that was executive session material.

    I wonder what the difference between Mr. Turkington's and Dr. Burton's situation is here with respect to what happened and this ruling.

    There also is a chance that the District Attorney will appeal the decision to the Appeals Court. The DA has 30 days to make the appeal (from July 2, 2008). So it may not be over yet.

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    Steve,

    Im curious to know specifically how you disagree with my characterization of the Loker fiasco. Hundreds of people attended the meetings and were just as baffled as I was each week, as this board just got weirder and weirder. If you were there, then you know what Im talking about. If you werent, and if youre disagreeing with my characterization based on some other experiences with this board, then we may be talking about 2 different things.

    Which meetings did you attend between January 21 March 10?
    My characterization is not simply an arbitrary opinion. It is based on facts specific events and statements that were made, along with video tapes from 8 months prior that contradicted what was being said at the time.

    You may disagree with my characterization. But the events upon which they are based are fact. If you experienced these same events, heard the same words, viewed the same video tapes, Id love to hear how you arrived at the conclusions you did.


    One more point - your mention of not "abandoning these principles in the name of expediency", again reminds me of Loker.

    Even though the SC has admitted that the process was less than perfect and was rushed, they pushed ahead anyway, abandoning principles in the name of expediency.

    There was no reason this closure could not have waited a year, where all the details that they hadn't even looked at yet, could have been examined prior to taking their vote.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    I am quite surprised we don't yet have a response from Jeff on the issue of legal fees related to this matter. Well?

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    Jeff, I suppose it's possible that Jeff D doesn't have the answer yet. I think as much as you may disagree with him generally, you certainly have to credit him with being responsive in handling the very many questions sent his way. I bet a small amount of patience here will prove virtuous.

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    Alan, your description of the Board of Selectmen process sounds virtually indentical to the one used by the School Committee. Sounds to me like the only difference between the two cases is that John Hilliard sued the School Committee, but didn't sue the Board of Selectmen. I'm no legal expert, but it sounds like had he sued, he would have lost that one, too. Just because somebody can sue does not make them right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Jeff, I suppose it's possible that Jeff D doesn't have the answer yet. I think as much as you may disagree with him generally, you certainly have to credit him with being responsive in handling the very many questions sent his way. I bet a small amount of patience here will prove virtuous.
    I WILL give him credit for often being responsive. This is true.

    However, there are certain questions that are sometimes ignored and seem to quietly fade away.

    I will resurrect them.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Steve,

    Im curious to know specifically how you disagree with my characterization of the Loker fiasco. Hundreds of people attended the meetings and were just as baffled as I was each week, as this board just got weirder and weirder. If you were there, then you know what Im talking about. If you werent, and if youre disagreeing with my characterization based on some other experiences with this board, then we may be talking about 2 different things.

    Which meetings did you attend between January 21 March 10?
    My characterization is not simply an arbitrary opinion. It is based on facts specific events and statements that were made, along with video tapes from 8 months prior that contradicted what was being said at the time.

    You may disagree with my characterization. But the events upon which they are based are fact. If you experienced these same events, heard the same words, viewed the same video tapes, Id love to hear how you arrived at the conclusions you did.
    John, I experienced these same events, heard same words, viewed same tapes and disagree with your characterization. They may not be posting here, but there are plenty of people whose opinions differ from yours. Your opinion is not fact and others truly can disagree. This happens all the time--people can see the same event and have 2 completely different stories. Alot of it has to do with what we bring with us (history, past experiences, etc.). All of us believe that our opinions are based on facts. What you call "contradictions", I may see as "discussions".

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Even though the SC has admitted that the process was less than perfect and was rushed, they pushed ahead anyway, abandoning principles in the name of expediency.
    The SC's decision to "push ahead" can also be viewed as supporting principles, even in the face of much discord.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    There was no reason this closure could not have waited a year, where all the details that they hadn't even looked at yet, could have been examined prior to taking their vote.
    There were many reasons to consolidate. There were also many reasons not to. Could have gone either way. I believe everyone did the best they could with the info they had. There is always an argument to wait for more details, we will never have all the answers, but many people believe that this was the fiscally responsible way to go and would be the least destructive to the kids education overall.

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    Default Seriously off-topic

    Just thought I would jump in and note that this discussion has gotten seriously off-topic. Interesting that every school-related discussion seems to go back to the consolidation.

    I am not going to try to argue that the consolidation isn't a valid discussion topic. But I wonder if it might be possible to talk about any of these issues on their own merits?

    I mean, we're already discussion Loker in the Response to Jeff Baron's Letter and the Override Business and even the Cheap Gas threads... It's kind of like all roads leading to Rome. (Though I must admit, Loker has not been discussed in the Obama v. McCain thread)

    Just thought I'd point it out in case anybody hadn't noticed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    John, I experienced these same events, heard same words, viewed same tapes and disagree with your characterization. They may not be posting here, but there are plenty of people whose opinions differ from yours.
    Tracy,
    You and I will be seeing a lot of each other next year.
    We have both "played nice" on these boards, and it is in everyone's interest that we continue to do so. I say this because I'm about to enter some delicate territory and don't want to stir up any "us & them" feelings here.

    You and the other HH parents that were at the meetings fought very hard to make sure that your school did not close. This is to be expected. The Loker parents would probably have done the same thing in your shoes.

    When you say that "people can see the same event and have 2 completely different stories", you're right, of course, and yours is a prime example of that - the HH parents saw things one way because they wanted to preserve their school. Loker parents, of course saw it a different way. But people with no kids at either school, were at some of those meetings and just thought that the whole thing was bizarre.

    I'm not talking about my opinion here.
    Of course we can't say one side's opinion is wrong and the other is right.

    But there were certain facts - things that happened that were absolutely bizarre, information that was spun, misinformation that was put out, etc. etc.
    If you don't believe me, look at the tapes. It's all there.

    A couple of examples:
    It is fact, not opinion that Gary Burton said that HH's cafeteria is "slightly smaller" than Loker's which is actually more than twice the size.

    It is fact, not opinion claim that they claimed HH has more parking spaces than Loker until it was proven otherwise, and then said, well, parking doesn't really matter anyway

    It is fact, not opinion that Barb & Heather jumped in and prevented Brad Crozier from answering a pivotal question about why Loker was never considered as the 1-5 school in the nine models he drew up.

    It is fact, not opinion that they claimed that safety is the most important thing, but completely discredited a respected traffic consultant's report that did not support the direction they were leaning.

    There are many, many more examples.

    You know, if they'd just given it to us straight from the beginning, none of this ever would have happened. The spin, the bizarre conclusions, the misinformation, the less than transparent process all conspired to guarantee the kind of backlash the SC is experiencing.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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