EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 22, 2013

City's decision to fire teacher upheld

Arbitrator: Termination justified despite not-guilty finding at Francescone's trial


In a written statement on the decision, Scully thanked the city’s legal team, police and school staff involved in the case for their “diligence and professionalism” in handling the matter.

“Since coming to Haverhill as superintendent, it has been my position to do what is in the best interest of students, the school system, and the city of Haverhill,” Scully’s statement said, in part. “Often I receive much pressure to approach such matters less aggressively, however, if I relent, there may be times that the best interests of children will not be represented.

“It has been and will continue to be my intention to hold the staff of the Haverhill Public Schools to the highest standards of ethical behavior,’’ the statement continued. “I want to thank so many of our employees who strive every day to uphold high ethical standards and keep the students of the HPS foremost in their daily mission.”

While the school district alleged that Francescone committed “a wide variety of misdeeds,” the ruling said the arbitrator focused on one factual area to support Scully’s decision to fire him: That in the fall of 2010 Donais showed a Power Point presentation to all school staff including Francescone that “clearly informed and directed the staff that all money must be turned in to the office at the end of each school day” and “that no money should be in classroom closets at any time.”

The decision said that on Oct. 18, 2011, Donais heard that Francescone was keeping large amounts of cash in his closet. The principal then directed custodian Gonzalez to go with her and open Francescone’s closet, where she found more than $1,000 in cash. A week later, Donais and then-School Department Finance Director Kara Kosmes told Francescone that storing money in his closet was a violation of policy and state law and advised him not to do it again. Despite that warning, school officials would later find hundreds of dollars in Francescone’s closet on several occasions, the decision said.

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