Fall River Schools Superintendent: I’m Not Resigning
FALL RIVER – Fall River Schools Superintendent Matthew Malone said he has no plans of resigning after the Fall River City Council this week overwhelmingly passed a “no confidence” vote, and called on him to step down.
Malone, who has been under fire over allegations that he harassed his central office staff and used demeaning language, struck a defiant tone, saying he was “disappointed” in the city council's vote, which he called “a distraction from the important work” of education.
“I have important work to lead under the governance of the school committee and I invite the Fall River City Council members to join us in building the best urban school system in Massachusetts and delivering on the promise for a better future in Fall River,” Malone said in a prepared statement.
On Tuesday, the city council voted 8-0 to express no confidence in Malone, whom the school committee disciplined after an internal investigation found him at fault “for using coarse language and behaving in a blunt manner towards subordinates,” according to Malone’s statement.
The Herald News of Fall River has reported that the investigation uncovered evidence that Malone made sexist comments toward female employees and that he called a school department staff member with physical disabilities a “retard.”
Last month, the school committee disciplined Malone by docking his pay for one month and amending his contract to make it easier to fire him without cause “under certain circumstances.” In November, the School Committee voted 4-2 in executive session not to fire Malone, the Herald News reported.
In his prepared statement, Malone said the investigation, while faulting him for coarse language and blunt behavior toward subordinates, “found no findings of ageism, sexism, or harassment.”
“The school committee disciplined me per their authority under the statute and I deserved the discipline I received,” said Malone, a former U.S. Marine who added that he regrets his behavior and “poor leadership,” which he vowed to correct.
“I am embarrassed by my actions and I have apologized,” Malone said. “I have also acknowledged that I must change my style and therefore, I have committed to the work of being less forceful, less aggressive, and more sensitive to the feelings of others in my interactions.”
City Council President Cliff Ponte has sent a letter to Malone, asking him to turn over the results of the $25,000 investigation into Malone's behavior.
Mayor Paul Coogan, a former B.M.C. Durfee High School educator who serves as the chairman of the school committee, recused himself from any involvement in the matter. Coogan, whose brother reports to Malone as the school department’s director of human resources, cited an opinion from the State Ethics Commission.
However, in a prepared statement, Coogan expressed empathy for “all individuals whose lives and livelihoods have been and continue to be affected by the actions of the superintendent.”
“It is crucial we all work hard to (ensure) that the Fall River Public Schools are free of any form of discrimination and disrespect,” Coogan said.
Malone said he will not comment any further on the allegations, and referred all further questions to the school committee.
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