EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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August 22, 2013

City's decision to fire teacher upheld

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


Francescone was also found to have taken large amounts of money home from school dances and other activities without permission or accounting for the cash, reports said. Several times, money in Francescone’s control was found to have gone missing, reports in the case said.

The arbitrator’s decision said the “last straw” that led to Francescone’s prosecution for theft, and eventually his termination, came after a reunion dance Nov. 19.

“Rather than turn in all the monies which had been collected from the refreshment table, the record evidence clearly and convincingly establishes that (Francescone) took about $150 in cash and walked out of the dance with that cash, announcing that he was going out to eat with some of the graduates who had returned for the dance,” the decision said. “Then when questioned the next day about the missing cash, he presented a series of claims which he knew were untruthful ... One can only speculate what (Francesone) did with the missing $150.”

The ruling speculates whether Francescone felt it was his right to use some of the missing money to treat some of the returning students to dinner.

“It does appear that Mr. Francescone felt it was within his sole discretion to expend student activity funds in whatever way he deemed appropriate, without any documentation or accounting to anyone,” the decision said. “If that is what happened, he unquestionably violated the firm and clear directives” of school officials,’’ it said.

The decision concludes by asserting that Francescone’s disregard for school policies and directives put him at risk for accusation, which “in fact came to harsh fruition when criminal charges were filed against him and he had to go through a criminal trial.”

“The Whittier School and Haverhill Public Schools collectively were placed at risk as well — at risk of being dragged through a senseless scandal about financial mismanagement,” the ruling said.

Francescone Decision

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