School Comm. Investigation Will Not be Released

An attorney for the School Committee has determined – in a letter to the Everett Independent – that the independent investigation conducted for the School Committee into alleged sexual harassment claims at the School Department will not be released to the public.

School Committee Attorney Robert Galvin told the Independent in a letter that the report would be protected under attorney-client privilege.

“I am not certain who provided you the information that you have based your request for public records on regarding the work of Attorney (Regina) Ryan and cannot confirm or deny the existence of any of the information that you have requested; however, I will tell you that any information, if any, received by me as counsel for the Everett School Committee concerning these matters and my communications with the members of the Committee and any other attorney working on behalf of the School Committee are private, privileged and not public records.

“I must inform you that Attorney Ryan is still working on the matters that she was charged to work on by the Committee and myself as Counsel for the Committee and accordingly any materials in existence if at all are withheld on the basis of the investigatory exemption and also any investigative work product and legal notes are protected by the attorney-work product doctrine, attorney-client privilege and deliberative process privileges,” he continued.

The Independent had heard on multiple occasions from members of the School Committee and from sources that the independent investigation – which started in January – had been completed in late May – which prompted the request from the newspaper in early June. Scores of School Department employees, alleged victims, former employees and community members allegedly had been interviewed by Attorney Regina Ryan, who was charged by the Committee with completing an exhaustive investigation into alleged sexual harassment claims at the School Department – claims that eventually led to the resignation of former Supt. Fred Foresteire in December.

Many have been waiting to get a glimpse of the report, as it is believed to be far more expansive in nature regarding who could be implicated in the claims of sexual harassment. Of course, that cannot be substantiated until the report becomes public, or if the report becomes part of a criminal investigation or Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) hearing.

The release of the report had garnered some internal discussion this spring amongst the Committee and their attorneys.

Chair Tom Abruzzese told the Independent this spring that the Committee had been told that if Ryan produced a written report, it would likely be a public document.

However, Galvin told the paper that it would be withheld on a number of different legal points including:

•personnel/medical files or information exemption.

•to protect specifically named individuals, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

•to not prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement.

•to follow MCAD rules on the release of discrimination complaints, whereas releasing the allegations risks a “chilling effect” on complainants and witnesses, as well as unwarranted and unintended damage to respondents’ reputations and goodwill.

•that the information requested is of a personal nature and relates to specifically named individual or individuals.

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