Tuesday, May 10, 2011
They have secrets (and want to keep them)
Supervisor of Records
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
McCormack Building, Room 1719
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Dear Mr. Cote,
I wish to appeal the recent decision by the Amherst public Schools denying my documents request for separation agreements with (now former) employees that cost local taxpayers tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of dollars.
Months earlier I made the same request of the Town Manager and Amherst Select Board (town employees are legally separate from school employees) which town officials initially balked at providing, but town attorney Joel Bard ruled the request fell within the parameters of public documents law and I was reluctantly provided the material--some of it potentially embarrassing.
I also find it odd that the schools would turn over the settlement agreement of former Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez but none of the others (and at this point I have no idea how many others exist.) It only takes one white crow to disprove the theory all crows are black.
And if all of the other settlements agreements are the result of internal discipline regarding the performance of a school teacher and as such is "personnel . . . information" within the meaning of G. L. c. 4, s. 7, Twenty-sixth (c) [797-799], therefor exempt from disclosure under the public records law, G. L. c. 66, s. 10 [799-800] then why did the those employees receive hefty settlements paid for with tax dollars?
To: Gerykm@arps.org, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Thu, Apr 7, 2011 12:15 pm
Subject: Public Documents Request
Could I please get any and all separation, severance, transition, or settlement agreements made since January 1, 2005 between the Schools (both Amherst elementary and Regional HS) employees that include compensation, benefits, or other payments worth more than $5,000.
Sent: Thu, Apr 28, 2011 2:36 pm
Subject: Re: Public Documents Request
Based on advice by our school attorney and the districts' contact with the Massachusetts Office of Public Records, we are enclosing a copy of the Settlement Agreement of Alberto Rodriguez. However, as to the other documents you are seeking, it is the position of the districts that these documents are not public record per the Wakefield decision and the districts do not feel they can be released.
Director of Human Resources