EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 21, 2013

City refuses to turn over teachers contract

The Eagle-Tribune yesterday filed a complaint with the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office after the Methuen School Department ignored a public records request for a copy of the new teachers contract approved May 6.

The public records request was filed on May 6 at 8:07 p.m., after a special School Committee meeting that evening to ratify a new four-year teachers contract. The committee approved the contract unanimously.

After the meeting, Superintendent Judith Scannell denied several verbal requests from a reporter for a copy of the contract the committee had approved. Mayor Stephen Zanni also rebuffed a verbal request.

The Eagle-Tribune filed the written request for the contract later that evening. A verbal request for the contract was given to Zanni again later that week, but again was denied.

The School Department did not send response to the written request, or a copy of the contract.

Scannell and Zanni did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Under state law and regulations, the custodian of a public document has 10 days to respond to a written request for a document. Failure to respond within that time is considered a denial.

The contract approved on May 6 included raises for teachers' base salaries starting this year, and a brand new evaluation system for teachers that incorporated student achievement on standardized tests.

Follow Douglas Moser on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.

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