School Committee Members Dispute Issues Behind $2,000 Bill

Haverhill School Commiteeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

Haverhill School Commiteeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

Two Haverhill school committee members are at odds over responsibility for a nearly $2,000 legal bill over recent debate on class weighting and class ranking at the high school, while a third member is being criticized for comments at last Thursday’s meeting.

In a statement sent to WHAV, Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti explained his reasons for casting a lone vote against paying the $1,920.50 bill to the firm Lyons and Rogers LLC, Rockland, for an opinion in March. The opinion from Attorney Catherine L. Lyons affirmed school administrators, under the Education Reform Act of 1993, “legally and customarily” determine the amount of weight between Advanced Placement (AP) and Early College (EC) courses. However, Magliocchetti contends committee President Scott Wood incurred the legal bill “without the knowledge and consent on the entire school committee.”

“At the public meetings, no school committee member, that I recall, questioned the superintendent’s authority, and therefore the question that Scott Wood posed to Attorney Lyons resulted in a conclusion on a specific and narrow issue that no one raised,” Magliocchetti said. “There was no formal discussion regarding the need for a legal opinion and no vote was ever taken authorizing the School Committee President Scott Wood to spend 2,000 taxpayer dollars.”

Meanwhile, Wood countered by alleging Magliocchetti “broke school committee policy” and tried to undermine Haverhill High Principal Beth Kitsos, who “stood up for all students at Haverhill High School and not just Attorney Magliochetti’s friends.”

“If Attorney Magliochetti knew the policies of the school committee, he would realize the president can ask for a legal opinion,” Wood said to WHAV. “However in this case, he is wrong. I have never spoken to Attorney Cat Lyons in my life nor ever sent her an official request for information.”

Wood added, “I did call the Mass. Association of School Committees which rendered an opinion at no cost to the city and whose opinion was ironically the same as Attorney Lyons. Those opinions run counter to Attorney Magliochetti’s thoughts and thus he continues to attempt to discredit those whose opinions differ from his.”

Also, Magliocchetti referred to Lyons’s added opinion “there may be instances when the school committee may be legally permitted to encroach upon the administration’s operational authority when its directives run counter to the committee’s educational objectives.” However, Wood alleged Magliocchetti is making issues with “administrative decisions that are designed in the best interest of the majority of students at Haverhill High School.”

“What he doesn’t tell the public is that his interpretation of the issues may give his daughter an educational or financial benefit and advantage over the majority of students at Haverhill High School, Wood said. “Lets call a spade a spade, this issue was brought fourth because Attorney Magliochetti was looking out for himself and a few of his friends and not the children of Haverhill High School. Lastly, the reason he is making these attacks now is not because he cares about taxpayers’ dollars, Attorney Magliochetti is about smoke and mirrors. He opposed the school committee salary increase that happened over a year ago yet accepted every penny of the salary increase making him a hypocrite at best. In fact, he is the only member of the committee that accepts a full salary, health insurance for his entire family and dental insurance for his entire family. To me, that’s hypocrisy at its best. We all know this is an election year, and his efforts are designed to attack those who see through his smoke and mirrors approach and realize his issues are designed to directly benefit him. Attorney Magliochetti comments and items on agenda are all about how he can personally benefit and not how to make the Haverhill Public Schools a better place. You can only fool some people some of the time, you cant fool all people all the time.”

Magliocchetti also defended City Solicitor William D. Cox, Jr. against a comment by Committeeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua claiming, “the bill was due to Scott Wood challenging the opinion of Solicitor Cox.”

“No one on the school committee ever challenged the opinion of the city solicitor. The city solicitor never gave an opinion on the matter due to a conflict which required him to recuse himself,” Magliocchetti said.

In response, Bevilacqua told WHAV Magliocchetti is “unfortunately…wrong,” but said he doesn’t want “to get into a back and forth with him.”

“This matter he brought up never should have been at that school committee meeting until it was first reviewed in a subcommittee or workshop and enabling each opinion to be fully reviewed and discussed, Bevliacqua said. “The discussion he led had the net effect of dividing students and parents and pitted one group of students against another group. This is not what the (school committee) should be doing but rather bringing our education community for the benefit of all students.”

4 thoughts on “School Committee Members Dispute Issues Behind $2,000 Bill

  1. Scott Wood speaks about “smoke and mirrors” however in recent emails between him and I that is his most common move. He skews facts to make things look favorable when they are not. I trust nothing he says.