A voluntary resignation submitted by Blanchard School music teacher David Lussier was accepted at Monday night’s School Committee meeting following a closed door hearing by the School Committee that took well over an hour.
In a statement from School Committee chairman David Keele, the board indicated that Lussier had not waived his right to privacy and they could not waive it on his behalf, but that they were satisfied the situation had been addressed properly.
Superintendent Bill Olsen indicated that he had met with Lussier and Blanchard School principal Robin Whitney in recent weeks following pleas from parents to retain Lussier during recent School Committee meetings after it was announced that the music teacher full time position would be replaced by multiple part time positions.
Olsen stated that Lussier was not dismissed and not forced to resign, but that Lussier indicated he would resign at the end of the school year.
The announcement was met with swift criticism by parents in attendance.
“We should not be losing this type of inspirational teacher; these are the types of people we should be saving. It’s an absolute travesty,” said Yvonne Cekel, one of the parents in attendance at the meeting. “Anyone who contributed to this should be held responsible and should be ashamed.”
School Choice Cap Finalized
A limit of 75 students has been finalized for the 2014-15 School Year for the School Choice program.
Olsen told the board that the number was due in large part to staffing shortages, and that the focus would be largely on Elementary School students.
He noted Elementary levels in particular due to fears of transplanting established students from their current schools as well as obtaining potential problems from students in other districts.
Each student nets the district $5,000, with additional funding for special education students.
As part of a collective bargaining agreement, staff members may enroll their children as School Choice students where applicable, even if the 75 slots have been filled by other students.
Other Meeting News
The School Committee approved a change to the foreign exchange program at Westford Academy, awarding control to the Cambridge Institute.
Westford Academy principal James Antonelli said that the move would provide a financial gain to Westford of approximately $12,000 per student, with $5,000 going to host families.
A first reading of a proposed policy mandating fingerprinting of school employees was heard and approved, with a subsequent hearing to follow before the policy is finalized.
The policy is in response to a new state law requiring fingerprinting of all staff members prior to the beginning of the 2014-15 School Year to help augment CORI checks, which do not extend to employment histories in other states.
Keele took time to repudiate a claim by a parent from an earlier meeting that Principal Whitney at the Blanchard School engaged in illegal acts regarding not holding the School Advisory Council and urged for the record that parents talk to teachers, administrators, Superintendent Olsen and the School Committee before making statements.
CORRECTION: The principal of Blanchard Middle School is Robin Whitney, not Robin Whitman.