EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 17, 2013

Board member: Riccio insisted she won teaching award

By Brian Messenger
bmessenger@eagletribune.com

---- — ANDOVER — A veteran board member at Greater Lawrence Technical School says administrator Heidi Riccio should be fired from her $106,511-per-year job if she lied to the school about winning a national “Educator of the Year” award.

“If she’s done something like that — claiming something that someone else won — it’s crazy,” said Kenneth Henrick, a long-time elected member of the GLTS District Committee. “You shouldn’t be taking credit for something someone else did.”

The Eagle-Tribune ran a story on May 7 based on information provided in a routine press release from GLTS that proclaimed that Riccio had been named “Educator of the Year” by the New York City-based nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

The true recipient is a teacher at Chelsea High School. Riccio, a Salisbury resident who works as director of career and technical education at GLTS, has been on on paid leave from the school since May 8, the day after the story was published.

The release was accompanied by a photo of Riccio, included a quote from her, and stated she went to New York City April 23 to receive the award at NFTE’s 25th annual gala dinner.

“We want answers,” said Henrick, who worked as a guidance counselor at GLTS for 27 years before joining the school’s District Committee. “We really don’t know that much. All I know is that she insisted that she did win the award.”

Henrick said Riccio attended the NFTE gala dinner and even sat at the same table as the true award winner, Catherine Doherty.

Riccio has worked at GLTS since 1997. In 2012, Riccio was one of two finalists for the principal job at Reading Memorial High School, according to media reports. She was passed over for the principal job in favor of Kevin Higginbottom of Methuen.

Henrick said Riccio “really came along” under former GLTS Superintendent Judy Ann DeLucia. In addition to her administrative job at GLTS, Riccio began working last year as a consultant for DeLucia’s firm, Seaside Educational Consultants of Seabrook, N.H.

Attempts to contact Riccio for comment have been unsuccessful since last week.

Current Superintendent-Director John Lavoie said Tuesday that no other GLTS staff members face discipline related to the press release incident. Lavoie said an internal school investigation was ongoing but declined to offer details about the source of the wrong information.

GLTS District Committee member Denise Perrault said she trusts Lavoie’s judgement as the investigation moves forward.

“We were told about the situation right away when they found out about it,” said Perrault. “It wasn’t something that they were aware of. I know something like that wouldn’t happen deliberately through the superintendent.”

Calls this week to the five other GLTS committee members were not returned for this story.

The Eagle-Tribune was initially contacted about the fake release by Dori Wolfson, New England program director for NFTE, who said Riccio did not receive the award and wanted to know where the information came from.

Lavoie also contacted the newspaper to say Riccio never received such honor.

Riccio implemented NFTE programs at GLTS six years ago.

“It was a great honor because the hard work to keep this program intact has paid off,” Riccio said of the “Educator of the Year” award in the release.