EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

February 10, 2013

Editorial: Coach Rafferty returns but unanswered questions remain

John Rafferty has been rehired as the coach of the North Andover High football team and we’re sure that school officials would like that to be the end of the story.

But it isn’t.

Questions remain. Why was Rafferty told two weeks ago that he would not be rehired after 12 successful years as coach? Why were Principal Carla Scuzzarella and Athletic Director Jon Longley so secretive about his dismissal?

Scuzzarella, in her statement announcing Rafferty’s return, said that doing what was best for North Andover’s student athletes was paramount.

“Everything else is secondary in importance, and can be worked out between we three adults,” Scuzzarella wrote.

Really? If everything other than the students’ interest is secondary and can be worked out among adults, why was Rafferty let go in the first place?

There are rumors circulating around town — that Rafferty had disciplined the “wrong” students or that he was being shunted aside for a crony from the Beverly school system, where Scuzzarella and Longley have roots.

Let’s have the truth.

School officials seem to believe that claiming something is a “personnel” matter is a kind of magic incantation that absolves them from the responsibility of dealing honestly and truthfully with the public whose taxes pay their salaries. It does not.

The “personnel” exemption to public disclosure laws was meant to protect the privacy of public employees when it comes to deeply personal matters — medical and family records, for example. It does not protect information pertaining to the performance of a public employee’s duties. Taxpayers have a right to know if they are getting proper performance for their money.

As is always the case, the insistence on secrecy serves no one but the public officials who are trying to get away with something they’d rather not have exposed to the light of day.

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