The School Committee will likely take up discussion in executive sessions of sexual harassment allegations made against Supt. Fred Foresteire by a former employee – who was terminated in June – during its meeting on Dec. 17.
The news of a complaint with the state’s Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) against Foresteire by former School Department Payroll Clerk Andrea Garay, of Everett, surfaced last week and has been the subject of much discussion and television news reports over the last six days.
School Committee Chair Bernie D’Onofrio – who has been out of state over several of the last few days – issued a statement last week of confidence in Foresteire, noting there had never been a complaint of harassment against him in decades as the leader of the schools.
“The matter is now before the MCAD, therefore the School Committee is not able to comment on any of the particulars,” he wrote in the statement. “Supt. Frederick Foresteire has served the best interest of the Everett Schools as Superintendent of Schools for 30 years, Assistant Superintendent for three years, Elementary School Principal for 10 years and as an Elementary Teacher for nine years…During his career as Superintendent over 1,000 employees: administrators, teachers, teacher aides, secretaries, cafeteria workers and custodians have left School Department employment and not one single complaint has been made about the Superintendent.”
Two other School Committee members, though, have issued separate statements saying the allegations are troubling and they would like to set aside time to discuss the matter publicly at the Dec. 17 School Committee meeting. The agenda for that meeting does not become public until Dec. 13, so whether it’s an agenda item officially is still unknown.
“As an Everett School Committee member, I strongly feel it is incumbent upon us, given the seriousness of the recent allegations, to meet and discuss the best course of action,” wrote Frank Parker in a statement on Friday. “This should be our first and foremost priority at this time. The best interests of the students, staff, and families of the Everett Public Schools is, and will remain, my prime concern. To quote Abraham Lincoln, ‘I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.’”
Last Thursday, School Committeeman Marcony Almeida-Barros – who works for the state Attorney General’s Office – offered up his own statement as well.
“I am confident that the allegations made against Supt. Foresteire will be fully investigated by the MCAD,” he wrote. For this reason, I ask that we reserve time to discuss the matter at the next School Committee meeting.”
Garay filed the complaint under the pains and penalties of perjury on Nov. 21, one day before Thanksgiving, and the matter surfaced publicly last week.
In televised interviews, Foresteire denied categorically all of the claims made in the MCAD complaint and said he could not comment due to the process that is playing out at the state level.
The School Committee meeting will be held at Everett High School on Dec. 17.
What is the process for an MCAD complaint? Following is the process:
•File a Complaint – a person can file an MCAD complaint and the MCAD will determine if it can be accepted. Once accepted and signed, a formal investigation is launched.
•Respondents file a Position Statement – The Complaint is mailed to the named “Respondent(s)” who then have an opportunity to reply to the statements in the complaint by submitting a “Position Statement” in writing. That Statement will go to the complainant and they can issue a rebuttal.
•MCAD Investigates – At that time, the MCAD Investigator on the case will continue to gather information by interviewing witnesses, obtaining relevant documents, site visits, and additional methods as necessary. Sometimes the investigator will hold an in-person meeting with the complainant and the respondent(s) at one of our offices to ask questions and gather additional information surrounding the statements in the Complaint and Position Statement.
•MCAD makes a determination – the investigation ends when the Investigating Commissioner makes a determination, which is sent to the Complainant in writing called the “Investigative Disposition.” The Investigative Disposition explains the legal reasoning whether there is enough evidence to support a conclusion that it is more likely than not that unlawful discrimination.
•A “Probable Cause” determination means that the MCAD has found sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that unlawful discrimination may have occurred. If Probable Cause is found, the MCAD conducts a Conciliation in efforts to resolve the matter swiftly and amicably. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute during conciliation, the case proceeds to Public Hearing.
A “Lack of Probable Cause” determination means that the MCAD did not find sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that unlawful discrimination occurred. A Complainant has a right to appeal an LOPC determination within 10 days of receiving the determination.
•A Public Hearing is a formal proceeding where witnesses testify under oath before an MCAD Commissioner or their designee. The Commissioner serves as the judge and reviews testimony and documents submitted at the Hearing. Complainants and Respondents can hire an attorney to represent them at the Hearing.
•Both parties can appeal any decision of the MCAD as well.