Lawyer: Superintendent given ‘no opportunity to defend himself’

Hours before the School Committee meets to discuss the early termination clause of Superintendent John Buckey’s contract, the attorney for the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents says it is unfair that Buckey will apparently be fired tonight — without knowing why.

Superintendent John Buckey speaking at the gay pride flag raising in June. CURRENT PHOTO / WILLIAM J. DOWD

“Dr. Buckey has asked me to convey his deep disappointment and sadness resulting from the abrupt action of the Marblehead School Committee, orchestrated in a Zoom meeting behind closed doors at 2:00 on Friday afternoon last week, presumably to be executed this week, in yet another Zoom meeting. 

“He has had no opportunity to defend himself against unstated reasons for this proposed action, despite a clear history of proficient performance evaluations by several School Committees over several years,” Long continued. “This action will apparently occur without a public hearing on ‘charges,’ without meaningful and issue-specific input from the community and without an opportunity for Dr. Buckey to defend himself and his professional reputation.”

School Committee Chair Sarah Fox declined to comment, except to say, “The committee is acting in accordance with the contract Dr. Buckey signed and has been willing to negotiate. We will continue to work with our counsel towards a successful resolution.” She did not respond when asked what the committee wanted to resolve.

Long went on to say: “We have not been told the basis for this action. It may be that experienced committee members have harbored ill will for COVID-related practice in the district. If this is the case, their rational fails to consider the public health directives imposed by state health and education officials on Marblehead and every other district in Massachusetts. Blaming Dr. Buckey for COVID is convenient, but not fair or rational. 

“Perhaps some members are angry about the failed override, and the program cuts, particularly freshman athletics, which followed. In his position as superintendent, Dr. Buckey’s duty is to make policy and programmatic recommendations to the Committee,” Long added. “The failed override meant identification of policy options for program cuts would inevitably include unpopular choices. Even in Marblehead, limited resources means difficult choices must be made between equally desirable programs. As to newer members, in service on the Committee for only a few weeks, and in the absence of publicly stating their concerns, Dr. Buckey and the community may never know their true motivations.”

The School Committee meeting begins Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and will be open to the public via Zoom HERE.

Long also addressed the Current’s report on a bullying investigation involving a MHS coach and any concerns that Buckey did not act promptly in response to a parental complaint filed last October. Read that story HERE.

Read more reaction from students, teachers and town leaders to the School Committee’s actions HERE. Follow a timeline of events HERE.

This is a developing story. Stay with the Current for new information.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply

Exit mobile version