Appeal Dropped, Passing the Buck and FBI Investigation into AHS
With the summer drawing to a close, and Arlington’s political season about to start again, we thought a quick post, our first in almost two months, was in order.
First, an update. Apparently, after the Arlington Public Schools were found guilty in discriminating against Ron Colosi, an Arlington teacher and then union president, the administration and school committee decided to appeal the ruling. We have been informed that the district dropped their appeal and accepted the findings. Mr. Colosi will be reinstated as a guidance counselor at the Ottoson Middle School and will be given professional status as of 2003 so that he will be less likely to be RIF’d in any future round of revolving door layoffs; a favorite tactic of public school administrations seeking to rid themselves of critics.
We note that the monetary damages to the district are minimal, if not zero, so that an appeal by the district was just another round of retaliation for anyone who dared exercise their civil rights. We applaud the common sense that an appeal, that would have cost the district tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and created animosity for another two years, was finally dropped. After all, what would the APS have accomplished in winning such an appeal besides removing a thorn in their side, the whole reason that they discriminated against Mr. Colosi in the first place.
Passing the Buck
Word has it that Tracy Buck, Network Administrator and more recently, Manager of Academic Systems for the Arlington Public Schools has moved on to another district. Normally, this would not be news, except that Ms. Buck is a named defendant in a $7M lawsuit against the Town of Arlington and several elected officials and employees. Back in 2007, Ms. Buck, as the Network Administrator, allegedly was involved in the Ottoson Middle School email scandal that saw the disgraced, former superintendent Nate Levenson use ill-gotten, private emails to justify firing middle school technology teacher Chuck Coughlin and principal Stavroula Bouris. From the preliminary court finding, the judge allowed the following:
Levenson and Buck printed e-mail messages from Bouris’ school account. Within those messages they found the credentials for a personal, non-school e-mail account belonging to Bouris. Levenson and Buck accessed the personal account.
Now that Ms. Buck has left the district, we wonder if the court case for Arlington has now become more difficult without the leverage of employment providing favorable testimony. Anyway you slice it, it appears that Ms. Buck will have less incentive to carry the water for a long since departed employee (Levenson) or for a former employer. Given Arlington’s propensity towards poor treatment of public teachers, we wonder how long it will be until they settle this suit. Knowing the officials involved, we expect them to spend Arlington’s tax dollars defending their poor reputation right up to the steps of the courthouse on the day the trial starts.
Our last tidbit involves rumors of an FBI investigation against an employee of the Arlington Public Schools. We have no concrete information about the employee in question, nor the nature of the investigation, but this possibility brings up an interesting point. What is the policy of the Arlington Public Schools regarding an indictment, investigation, criminal complaint or court ruling against an employee? Searching the Arlington School Committee’s policy manual finds no such policy.
We bring our reader’s attention to the recent issue in the Boston Public Schools, where BPS superintendent Carol Johnson covered up the domestic assault charges against employee Rodney Peterson. Johnson admits she should have suspended Peterson, but hid behind the canard of not having a policy in place for disciplining an employee charged with a crime.
She said she hopes to have the new guidelines for handling arrests of staff members for non-school related incidents in place by week’s end.
This is what we call a Penn State Moment, when an institution protects itself from bad publicity while putting children at risk. In the case of the BPS, the risk was that an administrator (Peterson) with obvious anger management issues and an admission of violence against his wife, would be allowed to lead children in a public school setting.
We wonder if Arlington is about to be complicit in a similar circumstance, providing cover for someone under investigation of inappropriate behavior around school children. They certainly have a convenient excuse if the rumor turns out to be true.
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