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Robison: Superintendent Has Hired Outside Counsel

SPS Committee Chair Rich Robison confirms a lawyer has been put on retainer, but can't say for what.

After the Sudbury Public Schools Committee ended executive session on Wednesday night, numerous parents stayed at the and continued to demand answers over the lack of communication regarding

According to parent Christine Hogan, when executive session ended after almost two hours, another parent, Jane Stevenson, asked the Committee whether private counsel had been hired.

"Robison answered, 'Yes,'" Hogan told Sudbury Patch. "When Jane asked for the counsel's name, he turned to Dr. (Anne) Wilson, who said he cannot answer because it is not public record."

Parents Bobby Beagan and Cindy Brindisi were also at the meeting and confirmed to Sudbury Patch the conversations between the Committee and other parents.

Robison told Sudbury Patch the hiring of counsel is a routine matter.

"If we have questions about any legal issue regarding different activities we engage in, we ask counsel," he said. "When we say we can’t talk about staff, that’s from counsel for a variety of reasons. There are federal and state laws. The reality of this situation at is there are very specific laws we need to observe until it’s cleared up."

Robison said he could not name the counsel who was hired or why.

"We can’t discuss student records or personnel records according to law to protect student and parent privacy and those employed," he said. "People perceive it as cover up, or hiding behind a lawyer, but it's not that simple."

The Committee was also asked who would be paying for counsel and any settlement. Robison said that would come school funds.

"The school department pays the bill," he said.

SPS business manager Mary Will said there isn't a line item in the budget for litigation and there are no funds in reserve for such an issue.

"There is a standard budget line item for attorney fees," she said.

If SPS were to go to court for any reason and lose a case, Will said they would have to look within the budget to find the money to pay for any settlement.

"But that hasn't happened since I've been here," Will said, who added she's about to enter her 10th year at SPS.

Wilson was not available for comment on Thursday as she was attending an activity with a fourth-grade class for the remainder of the week.

Donahue came under fire after the school's music teacher, Michael Gorgone, filed a complaint about how she broke up a fight between two students.

About two dozen parents and students gathered outside the SPS offices to support Donahue prior to a hearing last month. Some left crying after hearing the news of her dismissal.

Donahue and her lawyers were told not to comment on the hearings.

Her husband, Jim, said: "Let's just say she didn't win."

SueChap June 10, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Mr. Mac, perhaps amend to request also have them provide under which conditions the superintendent and principal can be terminated. Where is Support Sudbury and their petition people? Oh, I forget, we elected her. Ms. Gutch could provide an opinion, but she didn't pay attention during these meetings. We need a petition. We need answers. We need these two (Wilson and Doyle) outed under the same disrespectful conditions they terminated Ms. J. I'll trade you two school administrators for the return of Ms. J. No questions asked.
Cynthia Denessen June 10, 2012 at 11:34 PM
As a former Noyes teacher who worked for the current administration, I totally agree with you, SueChap. As I stated at a SSC Meeting, Mrs.J is not the only teacher to be treated unfairly at Noyes, nor will she be the last if the town doesn't do something about it.
David Gursky June 11, 2012 at 01:46 PM
[Caveat emptor. I do not live in Sudbury. I did however live there from about 1960 to 1983 and I am a product of the Sudbury Public Schools and the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Some would say that this explains a lot...] We had something of a similar situation here in the Washington DC area. The best summary I can give is that a resident of Loudon County took a picture of the County Board of Equalization (I have NO idea WTH the BoE does) at a meeting. This apparently disturbed one of the members of the BoE, who eventually had the resident removed. This escalated into a legal battle between the Board of Supervisors and the BoE, with the County residents picking up the legal fees of both sides, and generally making the County look like a laughing stock. The first of several articles on the subject can be found in the Washington Post online: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/loudoun-foia-battle-expands-into-costly-power-struggle/2012/01/25/gIQAaEctSQ_blog.html
Rob June 11, 2012 at 05:32 PM
macentee get ready for a letter from their atty telling you about the fees for making copies. However id argue that this in the public's interest and should be waived. Im sure they wont want to see it that way
Parent June 15, 2012 at 05:33 AM
I am a parent of a child in Mrs. J’s class and my experience and comments are not based on rumor or gossip. I have direct experience with this issue. ScaredSudbury: You are right on – “an amazing teacher had been let go without just cause and this act ended up negatively impacting many kid's education and emotional well-being.” We were having an absolutely amazing 1st grade experience thanks to Mrs. J. As for other comments about taking things out of the room…She was given a date and time to remove all personal belongings from the classroom. She did as instructed and frankly, this has nothing to do with the issues that we’ve experienced. I know firsthand that there was a tragic failure by the administration on how they handled our classroom and that almost 20% of our 1st grade experience was affected because of this failure. Bad people make mistakes and good people make mistakes. We are all human. What matters is that mistakes were made and students suffered. There was a lack of procedure in place to handle the immediate removal of a teacher (BTW, based on the communication between parents, we haven’t come across one parent or student who had issue with any incidents). It is an injustice to our children to not have accountability for these mistakes. It is also crucial to have a solid policy created so this can never happen again. Too many people have suffered from this, but especially in an academic environment it should never be children that pay the price.

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