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Former Secretary Plans to Slap Sudbury Public Schools With Lawsuit

Diane Lachapelle is claiming she was wrongfully terminated from her job.

The litigation between Sudbury Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Anne Wilson and former Noyes Elementary School first-grade teacher Janice Donahue isn't the only legal issue brewing of late.

According to Marlborough attorney Stephen Morte, his client, Diane Lachapelle, will sue SPS in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Morte said the suit, which will be out of Middlesex Superior Court, has yet to be served.

"I was very unhappy when I left. I was heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken," said Lachapelle, who had the same position when Dr. John Brackett was superintendent with SPS. "(Dr. Brackett) really cared about the system. I was sad to see him go. That was a good man I worked for."

Lachapelle said she and Brackett worked together at SPS for 6 1/2 years. She said she was terminated on Nov. 14, 2011.

When reached for comment, Wilson said she could not discuss the personnel matter because it was confidential.

"We’re an organiztion of over 400 employees, and typically from time to time issues arise," she said. "We follow all procedures and all the laws regarding employee matters and discipline."

SPS has claimed this is not true, but has yet to say why she lost her job.

Rob June 27, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Some management job we are doing..
Andy G. June 27, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Holy SH#T. Are you kidding me?! I never really dealt with this admin, nonetheless, Anne WIlson is leaving quite a wake...if our school board continues to support her, we have a big problem. Furthermore, since she is a public employee, I would like a copy of her employment contract to see exactly what we are dealing with here in terms of her termination. Additionally, I think we are entitled to know exactly who her attorney is and what "we" are paying for. Any thoughts?
Rob June 27, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I have had the unfortunate times where I had to fire someone. Started off with verbal warnings, performance improvement plans and documentation documentation documentation. You don't just fire people you do your due diligence to not only protect the company but to make sure you are giving people a fair shake. Too bad there is such a disconnect in the way town government runs compared to private business.
UserName June 27, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I believe her attorney is Liz Varlerio out of Boston and she's paying her over $200/hr based on the doc she was forced to release a couple of weeks ago. Now we have 2 lawsuits and the very real possibility of a teacher's strike. It's going to be a long summer around here. Anyone else have the feeling there's more coming? When is the next SPS committing meeting? http://www.change.org/petitions/taxpayers-of-sudbury-vote-of-no-confidence-in-dr-anne-wilson
joanne June 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Anne Wilson is doing a FABULOUS job! She now has the town involved in 2 lawsuits- has us on the edge of a teachers strike- has bought new furniture for her office and hired new "specialists" instead of teachers for the classrooms- I would like to know why Ms Lachapelle was terminated? Was she trying to break up a fight between two teachers who wanted the same seat??
Deanna Clarance June 27, 2012 at 07:44 PM
At this point, no matter who is right and who is wrong, our school system should seriously consider the impact of all of this on the system itself and the town. Even the embattled superintendent in Marlborough resigned yesterday, despite solid support from their school committee who also recently hired him, recognizing that the continued debate surrounding his actions was a detriment to the system. He was actually in the right when he suspended a mandatory reporter for not reporting yet he handled it very poorly, resulting in all the controversary. Perhaps our school officials should learn from that.
sla271320 June 27, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Please let's not compare SPS to Marlborough Public Schools, which has the Mayor of Marlborough as the School Committee Chair. The politics and size of the district alone make the whole situation there much more complicated. We can't expect an administration to deal with personnel issues and then not support it when it does. And yes, sometimes there is a financial cost to doing the job. We as a community cannot get up in arms every time there's an issue. We have to have thicker skin than this. The School Committee has already said it supports the Superintendent. Stop second-guessing everything and start working as a community.
Rob June 27, 2012 at 08:22 PM
If the administration does not follow policy and or opens the town to litigation you think the school com has no choice but to support it? Odd logic...
Deanna Clarance June 27, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I am actually not comparing the two school systems. It is an example of a course of action given certain circumstances.
siobhan hullinger June 27, 2012 at 08:39 PM
It seems to me that we ARE working as a community - am I missing something here?
sla271320 June 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Rob, Based on what I've read and researched, the relevant policies have been followed. Any business, school district or other organization is always open to litigation. You should know that if you've been involved with letting employees go. Siobhan, The community includes the silent majority of residents who are scared to speak publicly. This is not how we work together as a community. Deanna.....apples and oranges.
UserName June 27, 2012 at 09:25 PM
What a strange comment and one that perhaps gives us all a glimpse into the minds of some of the town officials these days. It seems to me this is the EXACT attitude causing everything in town to go so off the rails. Is it really that hard for the school committee, Wilson, or the selectmen to say "you know, we've screwed up, we'll try harder in the future." Rather, the attitude the taxpayers get is "give us your money and then just be quiet b/c we know better than all of you." And in terms of trusting the admin to deal with personnel issues, so far, Wilson has been here not yet a year, but Mrs. J was here 27 years and Ms. LaChappelle was here over six. Surely their "performance problems" would have surfaced earlier. Honestly, it seems like in an effort to save money by running veteran and therefore costly employees out of jobs, Wilson is going to end up costing Sudbury so much more.
Rob June 27, 2012 at 09:33 PM
SLA i remain unconvinced that policy was followed. In Mrs J case id say there is the appearance that it was not followed or was rushed. There has been a lack of transparency with this and other issues that only lead people to guess on their own. Not the best strategy
UserName June 27, 2012 at 09:35 PM
It strikes me that in a desperate attempt to shout "nothing to see here" - you are willfully ignoring how upset the community is about far more than the individual personnel issues. The parents and children in Mrs J's class alone were treated in the most neglectful and insulting manner by Wilson and the SPSC. It is extraordinarily unlikely that it is just pure coincidence that there are so many issues exploding under their management. However, it's not too late for the SPSC and the BOS to roll up their sleeves and get this whole thing back on track before it gets uglier.
siobhan hullinger June 27, 2012 at 09:37 PM
I think that the community is finding their voice and are choosing to speak up. The silent majority is not as fearful as you believe anymore. I keep hearing this phrase on blogs by anonymous people and I have to ask myself - are they the same people who have written and or forwarded mistruths about those who do put heir name out there? They are the ones spreading fear. I have yet to hear or see an email from anyone else except the tight knit "insider" clan who absolutely splinter this community. The rest of us, vocal or not, want honesty, transparency, ethical and moral behaviors as well as decency. Don't turn this into another forum for "us" vs "them". It's demeaning, demoralizing to all and insulting to all of our intelligence. By the way who are "us" and "them" and....who are you? There are no sides here. We all want and have a healthy community except those who are self interested and unable to let go of power.
SueChap June 27, 2012 at 10:16 PM
comparing Marlborough school committee chair who also serves as mayor is like comparing Michael Fee, chair of the planning board who recently also became a member of the Sudbury Water District. If you can't get the residents to support the agenda of the planning board, you take over another committee where you can lobby your agenda in both places. nothing wrong with that.
Thrice Rusty June 27, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Is there any doubt that "sla" is a member of the Sudbury School Committee? Hmmm I wonder which member it is? I'll give you 3 guesses and 2 don't count.
Andy G. June 27, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Ok folks, the reality here is that we clearly have different opinions and that is actually ok. Rather than sling mud back and forth, those of us who strongly believe that things have gone off the rails need to follow through with our goal of change. Those who believe that "these things happen" can continue to fight for your own agenda and the status quo. For the record, I tend to think that 1) two potential lawsuits, 2) a possible teachers strike, 3) incredible divisiveness among our three selectmen, 4) the questionable firing of a long time tenured educator, 5) the continued disregard for the voice of many of us by a superintendent who doodles, a school committee in need of overhaul & two selectmen who have lost their way, 6) the questionable conduct of some of our leaders post town meeting including the town's unofficial D.A.R.E representative and 7) some of our officials "hiding" behind lawyers are things that actually justify second-guessing especially since all these things have occurred our last snowfall in March. Let me put it this way: we would all still be speaking the Kings English had it not been for the folks who settled in our neck of the woods 250 years ago. While these problems we face do not justify engaging in the same level of revolutionary activity that our forefathers did, they absolutely justify our right to second guess leadership.
2Labs June 28, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Easy answer: share all the facts with the townspeople. Then everything will be clear. They did it in Medford,; we need a lawyer to weigh in on the "privacy" mantra that town officials are using.
noyes parent June 28, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Anyone can bring a law suit, maube you should all slow your roll, wow, we are quick to cast aspertions on this site!!
Andy G. June 28, 2012 at 01:54 AM
You seem to be missing the point: these are cumulative incidents. Perhaps if it were merely a single lawsuit OR a single firing OR a single act of stupidity OR a singular disregard for a fellow member of our community it would warrant taking a step back and "slowing our roll"; however as I stated above a lot of things have occurred in a short period of time that absolutely require us to be more assertive and engaged. These incidents all interrelated and therefore each individual action cannot be looked at independently at this juncture.
Christine Hogan June 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Noyes Parent: You are absolutely correct. Anyone can file a civil lawsuit against anyone else. However, what makes these instances regarding our superintendent very different, is in these two cases (Mrs. J and Ms. Lachapelle) is one side in each case is most likely at a disadvantage monetarily. Like many people in town I need to live within a budget and do not have unlimited means to fight a lawsuit no matter the cost. I do not know for a fact but most likely both Mrs. J and Ms. Lachapelle fall into this category and cannot spare the expense(s) to fight civil lawsuits that can go on for years and cost them well upwards of $50,000 out of THEIR pockets. I do not think Dr. Wilson has been given the same monetary limitations. I would be curious to know if she was given a finite sum by the school committee or other governing institution, and if so, what that sum is. Further, is there any way to find out how much BOTH of these lawsuits brought during Dr. Wilson's short time here have cost us to date? What they most likely will cost us in lawyer fees alone? As a comparison, how much would/will it cost Mrs. J and/or Ms. Chapelle for them to pay for their lawyers? Keep in mind, the latter two are using their money, while Dr. Wilson has been using ours in a very irresponsible fashion.
siobhan hullinger June 28, 2012 at 10:42 AM
true - but I don't think administration is under the union umbrella ( could be wrong ) so she would be paying for this attorney out of pocket. Lawsuits are lengthy and expensive and anyone willing to put up significant personal money certainly has to think long and hard about this road ahead. I can't imagine that the position Ms Lachapelle had carried an income that put her in the top earners category.

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