Left In Lowell

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November 18, 2012

Mary Jo Has Got To Go! - Cassin’s Kingdom

by at 8:09 pm.

Folks, we have a problem out at GLTHS, only we can fix. The way this will happen is if you understand the problem and how it came to be. If I can convince you that my perspective is the most correct, then YOU must act. This problem stems from a failure of elected government, so only you, as a collective force of engaged citizens, can solve it. If you don’t, the problem will persist.

My plan is to write a series of diaries that will lay it all bare. If you are persuaded by my argument, then I’m asking you to call or write as many of the GLTHS School Committee members, as you see fit. Their contact info is here. Of the committee, there are currently two members that need to hear from us the most, Ray Boutin (Lowell) and Paul Morin (Dracut).

Let’s go back to Jan. 2010. From the Blog of Record:

“Superintendent James Cassin recently received an exceptional performance evaluation from the School Committee, yet there are ongoing issues of teachers working without certification, different standards enforced for different employees, bloated salaries and continuing allegations of nepotism and cronyism.”

(h/t Mimi)
If anyone is confused, Supt. Mary Jo Santoro is the hand picked replacement of Jim Cassin. She was installed by a complicit School Committee, as Cassin slipped out with his bulging retirement package. Santoro comes out of the rank and file of the union labor pool out there at GLTHS. Thus, she has learned how to fight administrative battles based on the grievance process which so often confounds most administrators. Except now, Santoro is the Sup’t and no longer afforded the protections provided by a union contract.

But, she still knows how to claw out a result:
Greater Lowell Tech “Harassment Investigation” highlights Chairs ineptness

On Oct. 11, 2012, Sup’t Santoro leveled an allegation of “Gender Harrassment” against Committee member Erik Gitschier. By doing so, she started a 300 day clock. That clock, determined by Mass General Law, gives her a time to file in Court. She has until Aug 7th, 2013.

This span of time just so happens to run concurrently with the time that the GLTHS School Committee would look to either renew Santoro’s contract OR find a new Superintendant. What an amazing coincidence?!

Does anyone remember when we where playing “beat the clock,” as the Lowell School Committee tried to negotiate with former Sup’t, Dr.Chris Augusta Scott? That process was complicated with a legacy of legal action and supposedly stellar performance evaluations.

This very scenario, under the shadow of “Cassin’s kindom,” is about to play out at GLTHS.

There are several concerns about the legitimacy of Santoro’s last evaluation. The process was dragged out, with some members, e.g. Paul Morin, turning in evals so early, that they didn’t get to consider the results of the 2012 TELL Mass Teachers Survey. Here is a taste of the results:

Photobucket

I’ll come back to that survey. Just remember that broad negativity voiced by the teachers, when shady whisperers try to tell you that GLTHS is plagued by a very small band of malcontents. The TELL Mass Survey blows that baloney out of the water.

As far as the “gender harassment” goes, I’m no lawyer. The GLTHS has a General Counsel that should be providing fair guidance to the “institution” for which they work. How they, as people, feel about the persons involved is irrelevant. Their loyalty is to the taxpayers that fund that school and the laws that govern it.

Update: Gerry Nutter is concerned about any confusion of “sexual harrassment” vs. “gender bias.” The law seems to treat these thing in the same manner. Anyways, check out what Gerry added, HERE.

Here is a publicly available primer on the subject:

Sexual Harassment Claims in Massachusetts
This guide will provide an overview to sexual harassment claims in Massachusetts, primarily from the perspective of the victim/employee. Please note that each state is different when it comes to employment litigation claims, including sexual harassment.

Introduction
The same law that governs discrimination in the workplace also governs sexual harassment in the workplace. Before filing suit, you must first make a claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). Such a claim for harassment (or any other discrimination claim) must by filed with the MCAD within 300 days of the harassment; otherwise you will be barred from ever bringing a claim through the MCAD as well as a lawsuit in superior court. If you are not sure how to do this yourself, you should immediately consult with a lawyer for assistance. You can also contact the MCAD directly through their website at http://www.mass.gov/mcad/.

What is harassment?
Harassment can be in two forms: 1) where continued employment or promotion is dependent upon the gratification of sexual favors, and 2) where the sexually overt conduct of a fellow employee, supervisor, or employer makes it very difficult to perform everyday job functions. The first kind of harassment, called quid pro quo, is usually the easier of the two to prove. The second kind of harassment, commonly referred to as a hostile work environment claim, can be a bit more difficult since a trier of fact (such as a jury) must be convinced that the conduct was of the kind under which no reasonable person could perform their work. Being asked on a date is not sexual harassment. Typically an isolated incident is not enough, unless it is particularly extreme. For the work environment to be considered hostile, there is usually a continued pattern of inappropriate conduct. The more overt and shocking to the conscience, the shorter the duration of time needed.

What should or can I do if I am a victim of sexual harassment?
Report it, in writing, and dated. You can go to a supervisor, or, if the problem is with a supervisor, someone in human resources, management, or ownership that is in a position of authority to take action. Once the company is notified of the problem, it is their responsibility to investigate and take action to prevent the harassment from continuing. Failure to do so can result in legal liability. If this is not possible, seek assistance from an attorney, or go directly to the MCAD and file a complaint. For most cases, however, it is important legally to provide the employer with an opportunity to address the situation. Only after they have been provided this opportunity, and failed, should legal assistance be considered. You should also create a diary of the harassment if it is continuing in nature. Document the date, time, location, perpetrator, any witnesses, and describe the conduct on each occasion.

Who can be held responsible for sexual harassment?
The perpetrator, their supervisor, and the employer can all be held responsible. This depends upon who the perpetrator is. Under Massachusetts law, if the perpetrator is a supervisor, then the company is considered responsible for the actions of the supervisor (also known as strict liability). If the perpetrator is a co-worker, then the company can only be held responsible if it knew or should have known about the harassment, and failed to take adequate action. This is one reason why it is important that you report the harassment of a co-worker immediately to appropriate personnel.

What remedies are available to a victim of sexual harassment?
Remedies vary slightly depending upon whether you take your case through the MCAD, or whether you elect to proceed with a lawsuit in superior court. For example, punitive damages are only available in superior court. Remedies also depend upon whether you were terminated in retaliation of your complaint, or because you resigned because the hostile work environment became too much to take (called constructive termination). Generally, remedies can include back pay (money that would have been earned from termination to the trial date); front pay (loss of future earning ability); emotional distress; attorneys’ fees; and punitive damages. If you are terminated, or if you resign under the duress of the harassment, then you have a responsibility to try to limit the amount of damages you incur. This includes looking for another, similar job, seeking treatment for emotional distress, etc. If you do not take reasonable steps in these areas, the court could limit your recovery.

How can sexual harassment be prevented?
Massachusetts employers with more than 6 employees are required to adopt a policy to prevent sexual harassment. A model policy is available from the MCAD at http://www.mass.gov/mcad/harassment.html. The policy should be distributed to every member of the company. The policy defines sexual harassment, provides instructions on how to file a complaint within the company, and explains the investigation process. The best prevention is education, so that employees do not have to be afraid of being a victim of harassment, or of inadvertently committing harassment.

14 Responses to “Mary Jo Has Got To Go! - Cassin’s Kingdom”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Last Thursday I watched the meeting on the school’s website live feed. (h/t to John McDonough for posting it on facebook).

    The interaction between the School Committee members and the Superintendent was disturbing. Most of them have a passive approach, except for Bahou and Gitschier. The School does not make it easy for the average resident to be engaged in the dealings there.

    It seems like it is a private club. That is how I have felt for a while. I agree, we need to pay attention and participate. I know that during his interview, Boutin stated that he will remain independent, I hope that does not mean he will remain neutral.

  2. Right In Lowell Says:

    Ms. Santoro was on city live this morning painting a rosy picture that everything is groovy at GLTS.

  3. Paul@01852 Says:

    For those who aren’t aware City Life is rebroadcast @ 4pm today on Lowell Cable Channel 8 and also Ms Santoro’s appearance will be repeated on Saturday (h/t Gerry Nutter)

  4. Joan Says:

    “slipped out with his bulging retirement package” Sounds like someone is green with envy of what someone else is getting.

  5. JC Says:

    What’s most troubling at GLTECH is the complete failure by its current administration and several key SC members to employ even a modicum of ethical standards in the way they conduct themselves. The observation that the place is run like a private club is completely on point. The harassment ploy is just the latest example of arrogant entitltment displayed by those holding and wielding power at that school. I hope, Jack, that you are undertaking a serious effort to cure the long standing infection that has festered for years at that school. If that is the case, you will have the support and aid of many civic observers who have been fed up for years with the disgraceful way in which that school conducts its business. This is a much needed, much overdue initiative. Anyone who cares about decency, about fairness, about ethics, about running our public institutions in a professional and above-board manner should get behind this effort. Count me in!

  6. Jack Says:

    Yes Joan. Whenever someone robs a bank or bangs someone else’s wife, I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooo envious.

    I just long for the “ill gotten goods” in life. :v\

  7. Lynne Says:

    Please, “Anonymous” - we ask that you pick a nickname. You can remain anonymous if you want, but a slew of people using the default “Anonymous” handle from not picking a nickname is very confusing. Pick a nick and stick with it.

    I admit to not knowing (or having paid attention to) all the details of this crazy ass “harassment” stuff. But I smell bullshit. And if someone - a person in LEADERSHIP - calls wolf on harassment like this, I want her head on a platter. Women have it tough enough without assholes using it as a political tool, making a legitimate harassment claim harder to believe.

    Seriously, if this is what I believe it to be, it’s absolutely disgusting, and totally unethical, and she should be hung for it.

  8. Lynne Says:

    PS - though I did not know the FORM this crap would take, I KNEW this would happen. Guess we need to start sewing the next golden parachute. Maybe next time we can fricking pick someone DECENT and outside of this nasty GOB nest, next time?

  9. Joan Says:

    Are you making an acusation that the supt stole money or had an affair?

    Note: Absolutely not. I’m scoffing your previous remark which was, on face value, juvenile and ludacris.

    PS. Please stick to one “handle” when blogging here.- Jack

  10. Paul@01852 Says:

    Actually I’m the “anonymous” in Comment 3; for some reason when I post from work even tho I fill in the Name & Email it seems to get deleted before it gets sent. (I am NOT the anonymous in Comment 1)

    Note: I fixed it for you. - Jack

  11. Sara Bacon Says:

    Jack, this is an amazing report. You obviously care about the future of the school and the students who attend there. The abuses have been going on out there at the Voke for a number of years. Thank you for uncovering the TRUTH! It certainly appears that the top administrator seems challenged to speak the truth. It appears her inability to be truthful has finally come around to bite her back.

  12. Sara Bacon Says:

    Jack, you may also find it interesting that some of the BS continues to spill over the top of the rim out there at the Voke. When a highly respected member of the Guidance Staff was bullied out the door it just so happens that the Guidance Councilor was replaced by a non-licensed, (once again!, no surprise), Dracut political insider with ZERO credentials! It just doesn’t end out there! The politics are disgusting. Once again, the students come LAST.

  13. Gerry Nutter Says:

    Jack,

    PLEASE be clear that in NO way, shape or form is the Supt. charging ERIK with any sexual harassment..your posting above may confuse people because that deals only with sexual harrasment.

    This is more long the lines of her charge and she did mention GENDER BIAS that he treats Males differently than he treats females.

    Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination when the verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual is based on his or her race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age,disability, genetics, pregnancy, military status, veteran status, citizenship status, sexual orientation.

    Harassment has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s employment or student’s opportunities for learning. Harassment may take the form of epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts. It may also take the form of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, genetics, pregnancy, military status, veteran status, citizenship status, sexual orientation.

  14. Rose Says:

    Did she call it harrassment during the meeting? I would go back and watch but they do not archive the meetings online. Jack better watch out or he will get the Santoro’s pizza delivery to his house. Playing dirty is how they play out there,

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