Newly elected School Committee member Brian Ota filed a “disclosure of appearance of conflict of interest” report with the Town Clerk when he was sworn in two days after he was elected on June 20.
The report, obtained by the Current, reveals that Ota filed a discrimination complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against Superintendent John Buckey. Ota did not mention his complaint while campaigning.
“I’m not going to comment on it because it’s an open case,” Ota told the Current.
At a School Committee meeting June 30, Paul Baker, who lost his recent bid for School Committee, asked Ota a question during public comment.
“Mr. Ota, having been elected to serve our school district, will you now drop your wrongful dismissal complaint against the district?” Baker asked. “If your answer is ‘no,’ I respectfully ask that you recuse yourself from all budget discussions and/or votes until your complaint is concluded.”
Ota’s contract as Glover School principal was not renewed after the 2021-22 school year.
“I was a successful principal at the Glover School and was not rehired,” Ota lists as the reason for his complaint. Explaining the possible conflict of interest with his campaign, Ota wrote, “The School Committee has two jobs: approving the budget and evaluating, hiring or firing the superintendent.”
Asked if he felt he should have let voters know about his suit during the election, Ota replied, “No.”
“I have no concerns and believe Mr. Ota proactively followed all required steps with the state and town to properly make sure no ethical violation existed,” commented School Committee Chair Sarah Fox.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.