EVERETT (CBS) – A former Everett Public Schools employee claims she was subject to more than a year of sexual harassment and discrimination from the superintendent of schools.
Andrea Garay, a long time Everett resident, filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination on November 21st. She claims Frederick Foresteire, the Superintendent of nearly 30 years, made inappropriate comments to her and even touched her inappropriately over the course of her time as a clerk at his office.
“You [hear people say], ‘he’s wonderful. The superintendent of schools for so many years,’” she told WBZ. “He’s not. He’s not wonderful.”
Superintendent Foresteire told WBZ he denies all the allegations in the complaint, and said he plans to let the process at MCAD play out.
The chair of the nine-person school committee said it, too, plans to cooperate with the MCAD investigation. Bernardino D’Onofrio did not comment on the particular allegations, but said that Foresteire has served “best interest of the Everett Schools as a Superintendent of Schools for 30 years.”
“During his career as Superintendent over 1,000 employees: administrators, teachers, teacher aides, secretaries, cafeteria workers and custodians have left School Department employment and not one single complaint has been made about the Superintendent,” D’Onofrio’s statement continued.
In her MCAD complaint and in a sit-down interview with WBZ, Andrea Garay said the harassment started as soon as she began her job as a clerk on November 7, 2016. “I was like a new toy in the building,” she said. “It was very weird.”
She said Mr. Foresteire would refer to her as “Ms. Argentina” instead of by her name, referencing her family background.
She said eventually the advances escalated to touching, and that he touched her behind on more than one occasion.
Garay said she can’t forget one interaction that happened on Mr. Foresteire’s birthday. She said he pulled her into a private room and asked her, “What color underwear did you have on for my birthday?” According to Garay, the superintendent then asked her to turn around. “I did it,” she said. “Like I turned around. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do. And he said ‘lift your skirt.’ I couldn’t.”
All of these allegations are detailed in Ms. Garay’s discrimination report, and as previously mentioned, Mr. Foresteire denies all of them.
In June 2018, Ms. Garay was laid off. “I feel like I was laid off because I wouldn’t do what he asked, and I wouldn’t allow him to do what he wanted,” she said. “I don’t care how powerful someone is, it’s not okay. It’s not a secret.”
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria released a statement to WBZ in response to the allegations. “I take this allegation very seriously,” he wrote. “I trust that MCAD will do a thorough investigation in a timely manner.”