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Letter: Dwyer is Out of Line

School board chair's written support of superintendent raises questions for letter-writer.

To the editor:

The City of Marlborough and Marlborough Public Schools have handled
the very contentious situation with Superintendent Dr. Anthony Pope
with the utmost class and respect over the past several months. There
has been quite a bit of pressure from both sides for a decision to be
made, and the School Committee has not made any drastic impulsive
decisions without gathering all of the facts beforehand. However, the
actions of one member of the Marlborough School Committee has
certainly raised some questions about a conflict of interest and
professionalism.

Margaret Dwyer, a dedicated veteran member of the school committee,
reportedly sent an email to parents on April 22 with a letter attached
addressing Mayor Arthur Vigeant, City Council President Patricia Pope,
the City Council and the School Committee in support of Dr. Pope. She
urged the parents to copy and paste the letter and pass it around in
support of Pope for the "good things he has done for the school
district". Dwyer was also part of the school committee delegation that
initially selected Dr. Pope to lead the school system. It appears that
she has a lot to gain by spreading propaganda. One has to question,
with all the angst towards Dr. Pope in light of the recent
controversy, if this were an election year, where would Dwyer stand?
Would she stand with Dr. Pope or the voters?

As a taxpayer, voter and a former Marlborough High School student, I
have to call into question Dwyer's motivations and conflict of
interest. She is a voting member of the school committee, but she has
sidestepped her colleagues to publicly lobby for Dr. Pope. In the
letter she calls herself a part of the silent majority with no
evidence to back that up. I have seen no such comment or letter from
any other member of the committee. All other members have been
particularly quiet when it comes to the sensitive details of the Pope
controversy as they are still in the midst of investigating it.

I have a suggestion for Margaret Dwyer. Let's find out if you really
are a part of the "silent majority". There is going to be a vote at
some point on Dr. Pope's fate and employment with the City of
Marlborough; let's allow our elected officials decide.

Even if Dwyer and the rest of the School Committee show that the
majority supports Pope, there are still a lot of legal matters to be
dealt with that may or may not force the school committee to relieve
Dr. Pope of his duties as Superintendent whether they would like to or
not. While we live in a democracy and while the majority may be
impressed by Pope's accolades, does the fact that 51 percent overrides 49 percent really mean that the people are being served? Should a minority just be ignored in favor of the majority no matter what? It is a question
that we should ponder moving forward.

Dwyer is out of line, and if she wants to serve the people, all 100 percent
of us, she will recuse herself when it comes time to make a decision
on Dr Pope's fate and allow her colleagues who have been objective
throughout the whole process to make the decision. I don't expect her
to because it's her right to exercise freedom of speech, but let's
allow the school committee to make a decision before sending out
propaganda-filled letters.

Michael McGuire
Marlborough

Deb May 17, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Mr. Maguire, As a friend of Margaret's, I'd like to correct a few points in your letter. First, Dr. Pope was not her first choice for superintendent. Second, the only thing she is hoping to gain is the betterment of our school district, which all the negative publicity lately is not helping; choosing to focus on the positives that are happening within the district, and there are many, while the other matters are sorted out is not "propaganda". Third, when was the last time we had a contested race for the school committee? How often does anyone attend a school committee meeting? How many people went to the selection committee meetings that were held when the superintendent was chosen? People barely participate in our local government and when an e-mail is sent encouraging people to make their feelings known to their representatives, she gets this kind of abuse? I wonder why so few choose to serve our community this way… It really bothers me to see someone as caring and thoughtful as Margaret Dwyer, attacked and accused of wrongdoing because she has a different view of the current situation in our school district than you do. Should all members of the school committee who disagree with you recue themselves? Do you truly believe that elected officials should not allow the voters to know what they think is important? As a taxpayer and voter, I appreciate knowing where my representatives stand on the issues. Deb McCarthy Marlborough
Suzanne May 18, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Well said, Michael. She violated the Mass. School Committee Code of Ethics. To Deb McCarthy, First, Dwyer did not encourage people to voice their opinion and make their feelings known, she asked them to voice HER opinion and her feeings by asking them to cut and paste her words. Second, if anyone else on the School Committee did what she did they should also recuse themself but as far as I know she is the only one who did something unethical, and lastly, even someone's friend can make a mistake and/or do the wrong thing. Your relationship with her doesn't matter nor does it have anything to do with anything! If she didn't do what she did there would be nothing to talk about, would there? This is not abuse, it's called natural consequences for her actions.
Stu May 18, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Suzanne - Where are you getting this info ("She violated the Mass. School Committee Code of Ethics".) from? Reported in the MWDN yesterday: "Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said yesterday that there was absolutely nothing wrong with Dwyer’s actions and said it’s common practice for an elected official to lobby their constituents. “It’s no conflict of interest. It’s no violation,” he said. “It’s protected speech.” As you can see you are clearly wrong! It is getting old how people throw out their opinons that trash a public official, as well as support their own personal agenda and call it fact. It is happening all over these comment blogs. Another comment left elsewhere states the Mrs Dwyer "ran" Arthur Vigeant's Mayoral campaign. Again; WRONG! She had nothing to do it. But it served the purpose of trashing her and the mayor in one clean sweep. The word bully gets thrown around alot lately. Some should take a closer look at that, along with the word liable.
Peg May 18, 2012 at 06:44 PM
You are asking me, Stu, to take the word of a guy who is on the side of school committees? I'm not listening to some director; I want to hear from all sides: the Commonwealth of Massachusetts legal counsel and the legal counsel from the MTA. I want to know if she signed it M. Dwyer, Marlborough School Committee. If she did then she's screwed. There's a big difference between protected speech and using your position to express such speech (which she did regardlesss of how it was signed). She'll be facing ethics charges. But this city, a city whose mayor sits as the chairman of this committee (which again I feel is a total conflict of interest!), doesn't have the b*lls to investigate it further. And in the end I don't care whether this woman violated any "legal" rules, she violated her own ethical and moral professional rules. There is no way that email should have been sent out, I believe she realizes that now and I'm sure if she had gone to town counsel she would have been told not to distribute it-if for any reason other than the fact that she has now lost the trust of a lot of angry parents out there, because contrary to this bogus "silent majority" spewing there are tons of parents I've spoken to who are fed up with the current committee and will never trust it again.
MhsStudent May 18, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Stu-- I agree with Peg, he is obviously going to say that cause he represents her. Its pathetic why you'd agree with him. Also, I find it hilarious that she supports him when she pulled her own kids from MMS the beginning of this school year.
MhsStudent May 18, 2012 at 07:10 PM
member's responsibility: (1) community responsibility; (2) responsibility to school administration; and (3) relationship to fellow committee members. 1. A school committee member in his/her relations with the community should: a. Realize that his/her primary responsibility is to the children. b. Recognize that his/her basic function is policy-making and not administrative. c. Remember that he/she is one of a team and must abide by, and carry out, all committee decisions once they are made. d. Be well informed concerning the duties of a committee member on both a local and state level. e. Remember that he/she represents the entire community at all times. f. Accept the office of committee member as a means of unselfish service with no intent to "play politics" in any sense of the word, or to benefit personally from committee activities.
MhsStudent May 18, 2012 at 07:10 PM
2. A school committee member in his/her relations with the school administration should: a. Endeavor to establish sound, clearly-defined policies with which to direct and support administration. b. Recognize and support the administrative chain of command and refuse to act on complaints as an individual outside the administration. c. Act only on the recommendations of the chief administrator in all matters of employment or dismissal of school personnel. d. Give the chief administrator full responsibility for discharging his/her professional duties and hold him/her responsible for acceptable results. e. Refer all complaints to the administrative staff for solution and only discuss them at committee meetings if such solutions fail.
MhsStudent May 18, 2012 at 07:11 PM
3. A school committee member in his/her relations with fellow committee members should: a. Recognize that action at official meetings is binding and that he/she alone cannot bind the committee outside such meetings. b. Realize that statements or promises should not be made regarding how he/she will vote on matters that will come before the committee. c. Uphold the intent of executive sessions and respect the privileged communication that exists in executive sessions. d. Not withhold pertinent information on school matters or personnel problems, either from members of his/her own committee or from members of other committees who may be seeking help and information on school problems. e. Make decisions only after all facts on a question have been presented and discussed.
MhsStudent May 18, 2012 at 07:11 PM
CODE OF ETHICS, READ IT AND FIGURE IT OUT!
Stu May 18, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Oh, now the director is corrupt too because he not taking your side? Figure it out? Why don't you point it out? Perhaps because there is nothing in there that supports Suzanne's statement.
MhsStudent May 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Stu--I'm not saying he's corrupt, I'm saying that he would obviously stick by her side since he represents her.
Deb May 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Did you receive the e-mail? Did you see it? Or are you listening to rumors? The point of the e-mail was to ask the City Council and the Mayor not to make our children pay for the turmoil within the district by cutting the school dept. budget. Even with the other situations going on with the superintendent, there are some great things happening in our district and people need to hear about those too. Not just the negative. It's about keeping the focus on the kids and the wonderful teachers and programs we have and would like to keep. As a member of the school committee, that is her job. I did not say that because she is a friend, she could not be wrong. My point was that the evil intentions and motives being ascribed to her are incorrect. She has no ulterior motive. Her motives are quite clear - she wants Marlborough Public Schools to be the best they can be. They won't get there by cutting funding to punish the superintendent. The consequence of that action will be felt by our children.
Deb May 19, 2012 at 05:07 PM
He doesn't represent her, he is on the board of the Mass Assn of School Committees. She did not pull her kids from MPS.
Deb May 19, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Which of these are you accusing her of? Because I don't see it. Specifics would be good.

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