Saturday, April 3, 2010
Gus Sayer: "Just go. I don't care how. Just go."
So in spite of being a private sector kind of guy, I know how CYA (Cover Your Ass) works.
I too, was guilty a few days ago when I first posted my reaction to the horrific South Hadley suicide by a young Irish immigrant girl, choosing to question why the DA came back so quickly with indictments against the brats involved with bullying teen-ager Phoebe Prince, but taking her sweet time with an incident in Amherst last year where a two-year-old died under the wheels of a school bus, eventually ruled an accident.
Thus demonstrating the Northwestern District Attorney is nothing if not conservative in the careful sense.
But if you are going to indict the pack of juvenile brats who drove young Phoebe Prince to suicide, then why not the paid professional adults who stood by and did nothing? And is sounds like, with Scheibel's use of the term "troubling" for their behavior, that she came pretty damn close.
My self-interested concern is that one persons bullying is another persons banter. And having been on the receiving end of Amherst Town officials trying to have me arrested for suggesting a town official should be removed from office because she no longer lived in town (eventually proven true), or another chief official railing against my "chilling effect" on his governmental board because of my respect for the Open Meeting Law, I'm just a tad sensitive to incidents sending us down that slippery slope to censorship.
Speaking of censorship, Gus Sayer when he was Amherst School Superintendent in 1999 first reacted to the tempest in a teapot about the Amherst Regional High School performing 'West Side Story' and being accused of racism responded unequivocally quick: "No group, neither in the majority nor in the minority, should have the ability to censor the decisions our community’s educators make about what to teach, what to read, or what to produce on the stage."
A few days later he collapsed like a cheaply constructed Chinese school building in an earthquake, allowing the even wimpier High School Principal Scott Goldman to cancel the play--the only time in history such sacrilege would occur.
Two years later Sayer hires Steven Myers as the new principal--at $85,000 annually--to lead the Amherst Regional High School, who at least by physical appearance is gay (Not, as Seinfeld would say, "That there's anything wrong with that."). In the People's Republic of Amherst certainly worth extra credit.
Soon thereafter a mother complained that Meyers propositioned her 15-year-old son, asked him to remove his shirt to expose his breasts, invited him out to a movie, and for a soak in his hot tub.
Superintendent Sayer took the charges seriously enough to hire a lawyer and undertake an investigation of his own, thus he was then duty bound to file a report with the Department of Social Services (G.L.c.119, 51A). He did not--at least not until the news broke and created a firestorm.
Sayer told Myers that if incident became public his Principal job would be “untenable."
This all occurred in January, 2002. Daily Hampshire Gazette digging and Amherst PD uncovered Myers had been under investigation in Colorado for pedophilia and Mass Department of Social Services stepped in and removed his recently adopted 8-year-old boy. Mr Meyers was never charged, disappeared, and has not been heard from since.
Mr Sayer soon "retired" after 14 years as Superintendent of the Amherst Regional High School, but quickly assumed the post at South Hadley High School following in the footsteps of Michael Smith whose brother Dan is still Principal. The 'Good Old Boys' network.
And they rest as they sadly say, "is history." A young girl who immigrated here from from Ireland, after continuous verbal battering, wraps a scarf given to her as a Christmas present by her sister only three weeks earlier around her neck to end the torment the only way she knows how. She was only 15.
At age 67, Gus Sayer is certainly traditional "old school" when it comes to running a publicly funded education empire. Time to head out to pasture. Actually, that time --too late for Phoebe Prince--was a long time ago.
Slate Magazine strongly hints Gus should go
An Irish paper reports