It’s one thing to criticize the decisions of public officials. It’s quite another to seek to punish and even destroy those with whom one disagrees.
In an editorial (Oct. 16), we criticized North Andover school officials for their decision to punish student Erin Cox, who says she drove to a party in Boxford to pick up an intoxicated friend. Police had also arrived at the party and arrested several students for underage possession of alcohol.
A Boxford police officer wrote to the school saying that Cox, a 17-year-old senior and star volleyball player, “did not have the slightest odor of an alcoholic beverage” on her. Despite the officer’s letter, Cox was suspended from playing for five games and lost her post as captain of the volleyball team.
Cox’s family has hired a lawyer in hope of getting the suspension and demotion overturned.
We wrote that Cox’s punishment for looking out for the welfare of a friend showed poor judgment on the part of school officials.
The incident has drawn national attention as an example of enforcement of “zero-tolerance” school policies that defy common sense.
But the case also drew the attention of a Florida man, Mark Dougan, who wants to do more than criticize the decision of North Andover school officials. Dougan has set up a website offering bounties for information that leads to the punishment, firing or incarceration of North Andover Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson, high school Principal Carla Scuzzarella and others.
“I never liked a bully,” Dougan wrote on his website. “In this case, the bullies are Kevin Hutchinson, Carla Scuzzarella and others that felt the suspension of Erin Cox for keeping the world a safer place was a good idea.”
Dougan has posted a pay scale of what he is willing to pay for information:
$250 for documented information leading to the suspension, resignation or termination of a teacher or documented information about extra-marital affairs.
$500 for documented information leading to the suspension, resignation or termination of Kevin Hutchinson, Carla Scuzzarella, “District Attorney” Geoffrey Bok or high-ranking faculty member or documented information about any extra-marital affairs.
$500 for documented information leading to the incarceration of a teacher.
$1,000 for documented information leading to the incarceration of any high-ranking faculty member or members of the immediate families of Hutchinson, Scuzzarella or Bok.
$2,000 for documented information leading to the incarceration of Hutchinson, Scuzzarella or Bok.
To clarify, Bok is not the district attorney for Essex County as Dougan claims. He is an attorney representing the North Andover School District.
“For the right information, I am willing to pay $15,000 to $20,000,” Dougan, 40, of West Palm Beach, Fla., told reporter Mark E. Vogler. “I could go higher if it’s really good information.”
Dougan says he doesn’t like bullies, but he is behaving like one himself. It is not enough for him to be critical of these school officials’ decisions. He has taken it upon himself to ruin them personally and professionally.
It’s one thing to express an opinion. It’s quite another to launch a vendetta. We hope North Andover residents will refuse to cooperate with Dougan on his quest for retribution.