HAVERHILL — One day after the district's chief academic officer for elementary grades and Title I coordinator publicly announced his resignation, becoming the eighth school administrator to leave this year, his accounts were terminated and he was asked to turn in his computer and ID badge.
"I was driving into work and got a call from the human resources director, telling me to come to his office," said Darshan Thakkar, a 15-year employee of Haverhill's public schools. "I went in and he asked for my laptop, keys, ID badge, and iPad and any other Haverhill property I had.
"He said that although my resignation is effective Sept. 13, given what's transpired in the last 24 hours, I'm being relieved of my duties immediately and that it's best if I didn't come to work any more and that I'll be paid until the 13th," Thakkar said. "I never imagined I'd be asked to leave immediately. I didn't have a chance to say goodbye to anyone."
School Superintendent Margaret Marotta issued a statement on Thursday afternoon in response to Thakkar's public comments, in which he was critical of the superintendent.
"We became aware last night through various media outlets that Dr. Thakkar was a disgruntled employee," Marotta said. "Given the fact that he has access to sensitive information for over 8,000 students, we felt it would be prudent to shut down his access to the school district’s computer system until we had a chance to speak with him.
“Our Human Resources staff arrived at Crowell School, Dr. Thakkar’s place of work, at 8 a.m., which is Dr. Thakkar’s scheduled arrival time. By 9 a.m. he had yet to show up for work, so HR contacted him by phone. Dr. Thakkar informed HR staff that the earliest he could meet with them was 11:30 a.m. Given Dr. Thakkar’s resignation and clear dissatisfaction with his employment situation, we thought it was best to allow him to complete his employment responsibilities effective immediately. This is standard procedure and policy for a disgruntled employee with access to sensitive and secure information."
"We agreed to pay him for all his available time and any and all money owed to him," Marotta added.
Thakkar said he was not surprised that the superintendent did not speak with him directly.
"She's never given me any respect, so why would she now?" he said.
Thakkar described the events, leading up to his resignation, as "constructive discharge."
"In legal terms, it means you know someone has a contract and you want them gone, so you make their life so difficult they leave on their own," Thakkar said. "That's essentially what has happened here.
"I still had two years left on my contract and I could have run the next two years out, but that's not me. I wanted to look out for the interest of the students and families of Haverhill. With minimum effort over the next two years, I could have earned $260,000, but that's not me."
Thakkar said Mayor James Fiorentini contacted him Thursday afternoon to say his departure is a loss to the city.
"He said he would have loved to have intervened and learn more about what had happened and if he could have made things better," Thakkar said. "I told him I wasn't allowed to speak to him. The sad part is, the stakeholders who are going to lose out, are the children."