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The title says it all:
Member of connected Dracut family now on Tech payroll
Posted by sunthecolumn on December 11th, 2012
A member of a politically-connected Dracut family is now employed at the Greater Lowell Technical High School.
Andrew Blatus, son of former Dracut Selectman Michael Blatus Sr. and brother of former Dracut School Committee member Michael C. Blatus, was hired as a guidance counselor.
Superintendent-Director Mary Jo Santoro said Blatus’s family connections had nothing to do with his hiring. “I know the history. I’m not really connected to the family in any way. It wasn’t a consideration in my decision,” said Santoro.
Sadly enough, I believe Santoro in this case. The Blog of the Blog of Record, for some reason, opts to frame this story around partisan politics and release it during the Dracut vote on approving the funding for the GLTHS renovations. (Btw, Dracut approved their part of the funding.) Those pesky Democrats, huh?
What’s really interesting is the cynicism that made this story ’shine’ in the first place. Charges of nepotism hang so heavy out there, at GLTHS, it’s hard to believe the Superintendant, anymore.
Charges? Ya, like this:
Family affair at G-L Tech?
Erin Smith (7/11/10)
TYNGSBORO — A Sun review found 18 employees at Greater Lowell Technical High School are family members of top administrators and politicians affiliated with the school.
The Sun’s probe was sparked by a state Ethics Commission complaint that several School Committee members and top administrators were using their power and influence to hire relatives.
David Giannotti, a state Ethics Commission spokesman, would neither confirm nor deny whether the agency investigated school officials, citing state law that keeps the commission’s investigations and the identity of complainants confidential.
The Sun found 18 employees are related to school board members and administrators. Twelve have been hired since 2005, shortly after Mary Jo Santoro officially became the school’s assistant superintendent/principal. One of Santoro ’s responsibilities included recommending new hires to then-Superintendent James Cassin for approval.
Santoro , who was recently named Cassin’s successor as superintendent, told The Sun she was cleared of any wrongdoing in the state’s nepotism investigation several months ago. Santoro , who has three relatives working at the school, declined to provide The Sun a letter she said she received from the state Ethics Commission detailing the findings, citing legal and confidentiality issues.
While state law bars the commission from releasing ethics investigation details, the subjects of the complaints can opt to release the agency’s findings, according to Giannotti.
“I’m not sure where all the conversation about family members working here is coming from. It’s always been the culture here. It’s been a school where relatives have always been hired,” said Santoro . “I can assure the parents and the taxpayers that those people are qualified to do those jobs. I’m more concerned with the quality of work than who’s related to who.”
Now, to be fair, let’s first separate families that have a legacy of teaching from what is called nepotism. Many families have a tradition of a child following a parent’s vocation. We honor such things, especially in the military, police & fire departments. So, all things being equal, the teaching profession will have it’s share of legacy hiring. This is not a true gripe. However, what complicates this at the GLTHS is that they are all under one roof, not spread around various schools, like we have in the City of Lowell. The proximity of family with family at GLTHS makes the pot boil over.
And further, The Sun report doesn’t effectively delineate between elected officials having family hired and Admin folks that came up through the ranks. I am of the belief that when you run for office, you surrender certain pleasantries in life, like having your kids get a job where you hang your hat as a School Committee person. Especially, when they were hired AFTER you gave Supt. Cassin a sweetheart deal.
I’ve been convinced that the established standard is “the appearance of impropriety.” Yet, The Sun states, “… 18 employees are related to school board members and administrators. Twelve have been hired since 2005, shortly after Mary Jo Santoro officially became the school’s assistant superintendent/principal. One of Santoro ’s responsibilities included recommending new hires to then-Superintendent James Cassin for approval.” Does that seem ‘murky’ to you?
Is it like Vegas, out there in the woods? What ever happens out there, stays out there? :v\
The sense I get, is that they got so cocky, so brazen, that they broke one of my Dad’s golden rules: Never shit in your own backyard.
Honestly, why wouldn’t they overreach? The funding formula plops their budget, right in their laps. They don’t have to come hat in hand to our City Council. Absent this vital form of ‘checks and balances,’ the GLTHS has become arrogant and insulated. Our very own elected school committee, were enticed into ‘going native.’ It wasn’t until Fred Bahou’s election shocked the system that things began to tighten up. Of course, the election of Erik Gitschier has brought a maelstrom to their ‘little thing.’
So, under the cloud of Cassin’s Kindom, Mr. Blatus fulfills his ambition to work with youth, full time. The Blog of Record tells the tale, and there it hangs, swinging in the breeze.
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