Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Meet-and-Greet with Maria


So no, Attorney Regina Tate was not present for our mid-afternoon pow-wow yesterday in the Superintendent's office...well, at least not in a physical sense. But her spiritual presence was overpowering.

Under additional $220/hour advice from Attorney Tate, the schools defied the official ruling of the state Public Records Division by continuing to withhold the (13) employee settlement agreements.

What little they did give me indicates payouts of almost $200,000 over the past five years.

Settlement Agreement Summary Click link

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why pay outs are ever made...can you explain Larry? And doesn't Maria have to give you the original documents? Is this it???

LarryK4 said...

Yes, I believe she does have to give up the original documents. After all, the town side of Amherst government (covering Police/Fire/DPW/Town Hall staff) DID.

They would--and did--argue that it was money well invested. If the cases went to court it could have cost a lot more; or if those individuals remained in the system while awaiting drawn out bureaucratic procedures required for termination, it would have been detrimental to the kids.

Anonymous said...

Outrageous. Absolutely outrageous. And all of you who voted to pass the override, I hope you feel really really stupid.

Anonymous said...

Atty Tate is more like $250 an hour.

Anonymous said...

"the schools defied the official ruling of the state Public Records Division by continuing to withhold the (13) employee settlement agreements."


So where do we go from here?

LarryK4 said...

Back to the Public Records Czar Alan Cote. Unfortunately he does not have enforcement powers but he can turn it over the Attorney General for that.

Anon 11:01 AM.
I'm still waiting for official verification on Ms. Tate's hourly fees, although both Maria and Kathy Mazur thought it was $200, so I went with it; but you may very well be correct.

I also requested total payments to her this past Fiscal Year.

Anonymous said...

WTF! Kathy Mazur and groupies think they can do whatever they want (and keep it secret). Mazur is the person running the show and she seems to have lost her heart and ethics, she's been in the system too long (and lost her way) and has become THE main part of the problem.

Good luck with pursuing it with the records folks in Boston.

Any chance this could end up in the 'real' newspaper?

LarryK4 said...

Yes, Kathy has been in the system a long time--but there's an advantage of having a deep institutional memory.

And she knows that Maria is the boss.

I've given up trying to predict what the "real" newspapers will find printable.

Anonymous said...

"And she knows that Maria is the boss."



What the hell is that supposed to mean? Because she knows who her "boss" is she is somehow reined-in and/or benign?

That's not how it works.

Besides, didn't Shaffer also know who HIS bosses were?

Christ Larry.

Still holding out hope, eh?

Still continuing to make the same mistake you made with Brighty.

Member that one?

LarryK4 said...

Actually I don't.

Shaffer is/was a different story. He had five "bosses" and it required three to fire him.

With fragmentation like that it's easy to get away with...what he got away with--not to mention a $62,000 settlement and another $25,000 to his "personal assistant."

Anonymous said...

Well, you thought she was just peachy keen (more or less)... so easy to work with. You said it here Larry.


Just sayin'


do

not

trust

them.

Anonymous said...

The current situation is directly related to the Brighty / Churchill incompetence/malfeasance.

Brighty supported the current structure with blind cupidity.

Churchill was not bright enough to see the damage he caused. Now he is perhaps too embarrassed to share what is self evident: abject failure during his tenure.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I had some knock down drag out fights with Ms. Brighty concerning the, ummm, Chinese Charter School.

And I won (well,sort of.)

Don't confuse my being civil (especially with women) as a sign of naivete.

Anonymous said...

Kathy Mazur is certainly an interesting person. The rumors abound. She is paid over 100K without a college degree (fact or fiction?) She served until recently on the South Hadley school committee. You know the one who has a leader in Gus Sayer. You know Gus he presided over part of the give away of power in our system. It is all so interwoven just like teachers, administrators, and local leaders in Amherst. It is a wonder any one can make heads or tails over what goes on here. Couple that with a refusal to give any information, discredit, mislead or outright lie, does it surprise anyone that people who question anything in Amherst give up shortly after. FYI I do think Amherst has a good school system. (Students do have better than average outcomes, certainly better than Hadley) Good value for money (ABSOLUTELY NOT!!). My advice, if you want justice, move. If you just want a good education for your kids become a quite advocate for the things your kids need but are not getting.

Larry thank you from those of us who would like to push for justice but just don't have the time or energy left.

Anonymous said...

I know Maria's position is controversial- but after following superintendent behaviors in our area...

A Rod here in Amherst, Gus *now???* announcing his retirement??? and the Springfield super nickeling and diming the city (drinks, parking and down payment monies (to buy a home in Springfield used to refinance his home out of state.) It is impossible to know what you will get stuck with when you do a search (and then have to pay top dollar to get rid of them)

Something needs to be done to regulate/ control the damage that Superintendents do!

Tom Porter said...

Don't know any of the players personally, but it seems to me that Attorney Tate has a right to charge whatever fee the market will bear, and that terminated (and yes: likely incompetent or injurious) employees have a right to receive whatever negotiated settlement was made to get them out the door.

Also seems to me that the Superintendent now should, and sooner or later must, comply with the law and turn over the documents, and probably should consider how elastic her budget is for covering future legal fees and payouts for poor hiring decisions.

If there is scorn to be apportioned, it all goes to the school bureaucracy, no one else.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it:

A good percentage of the benefit that comes to your child in the Amherst public schools comes from the quality of the children who attends there with your child, and the quality of the household that that child comes from. Many Amherst children come from households where parents emphasize the value of learning. It's a rich environment before any educator in town has lifted a finger to do anything. Our educators begin with some pretty fine raw material.

It's what they do from that point that needs some scrutiny. And it's what they do with children who come from households without those same advantages that needs to be examined.

But some of the crowing and self-congratulation in our public schools reminds me of the guy who was born on third base, and talks as if he just hit a triple.

Just what is the degree of difficulty compared to other communities in the area?

There are organizations in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, thanks to excellent leadership and management. Just what do we have here?

Anonymous said...

I had enough of the Amherst school system, including the feeder schools such as SES and Leverett Elem. I tried and tried to advocate for my children for what they were missing or needed additional help with. I pleaded with the administration to improve the math curriculum, I got involved on school committees, met regularly with teachers, asked for answers, then demanded, and then just gave up. Which is what I know understand is what they, the school administrators, hope for. And for those who they can't silence with their Alice in Wonderland approach, they ridicule, harass and belittle (see Sanderson, Catherine). I moved out of the school district. And I love my new one.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:06's experience is repeated over and over. The more involved you get, the more beat up you get. You cannot effect change, because you have failed to understand that the most brilliant educational minds in America have created this system in Amherst.

Understand your place in the educational cosmos in Amherst: you are nothing. You are a guest. You and your child are lucky to be here.

So the choice is simple. Either resolve that you will give tacit assent to everything that happens to your child, or get she/he out of there. There is no middle ground.

It's a bureaucracy, and it responds the way that bureaucracies often do: "what do YOU want?"

"We'll get to it.......some day."

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:25 is closer to the mark. If you have a child who is capable and wants more, than Amherst or Noho or a Regional school is the place to be. You will also be able to get more because your child is probably almost there and requires less work from the school. If you have a child who needs a basic education then Hadley is a much better choice.

Anonymous said...

Hey, how come Maria Geryk does not have her name painted on that door?

After all, she's going to stay until UMass Hockey wins a national title........world peace is achieved........Democrats figure out how to get what they want.....Amherst gets rid of Town Meeting.....and Americans decide to actually do something about global climate change.

In short, as long as she wants.

Anonymous said...

A problem with the current relationship between teachers (their union, really) and the community that causes most of the backlash against teachers is that currently it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of a bad teacher, hence these kinds of payouts.

Most of Amherst's teachers are great but like any big institution their are a few bad apples. I don't mean less than great, I mean toxic. The tenure system is part of the problem- tenure after only 3 years (I believe) and requiring very little evaluation. The very real problem is the lack of power of administrators against the Teacher's union to dismiss a teacher post-tenure. The only way to get rid of a very bad (damaging) teacher is to settle with them (ie, a payout=bribe to leave) and likely they will get a nice letter of reference to boot.

IMO, this is where the teachers' unions should find a solution. It would bring so much support and respect from the community. And would actually impact very very few teachers in Amherst. A lot of bang for their buck.

What other profession(s) offers such job certainty? With so little required to reach tenure?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anonymous 2:42.

And when your child has one of these "bad apples", your child will tell you what a waste it is.

It's not teacher bashing to observe problems with "quality control" in our schools.

The problem is, if the teachers are not removed in a demographically correct way, well, we know what happens then.

Anonymous said...

So, if I'm hearing this correctly, it's up to the teacher's union to do the administration's job and evaluate themselves, and then get rid of the bad apples?

Why aren't you complaining about the school administration not doing its job and evaluating teachers?

Have you looked at the district's teacher evaluation process that is part of the contract, a public document? You should since you are interested in this. It is quite extensive and gives the administration quite a bit of information on a teacher to evaluate and decide if a teacher should work for the system.

Please get better informed before deciding that this issue is the teacher union's fault.

Ed said...

For everyone who wants to understand why I am the way I am -- why I truly am seriously considering burning my "Eagle Scout" flag and why I would not let even my worst enemy attend UMass Amherst, one need only remember where these people come from...

And for those who they can't silence with their Alice in Wonderland approach, they ridicule, harass and belittle (see Sanderson, Catherine).
--------------
Anon 9:06's experience is repeated over and over. The more involved you get, the more beat up you get. You cannot effect change, because you have failed to understand that the most brilliant educational minds in America have created this system in Amherst.

Understand your place in the educational cosmos in Amherst: you are nothing. You are a guest. You and your child are lucky to be here.


And if you complain too much, then they will send the police after you....