EVERETT (CBS) — Everett’s school superintendent of 30 years will be on paid administrative leave for the foreseeable future, pending an investigation into multiple sexual harassment and discrimination claims against him by former employees.
The Everett School Committee voted in a 90 minute private, executive session Monday night to place Fred Foresteire on leave. The 9-person committee then announced the results of the vote to the room of more than 100 people.
In addition to the paid administrative leave, the committee voted to allocate $50,000 towards an independent investigation of the sexual harassment claims. This investigation will be separate from one already being conducted by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which received two complaints in one month’s time about Superintendent Foresteire’s behavior.
As first reported by WBZ, former Everett Public Schools clerk Andrea Garay filed a complaint with the MCAD on November 21, alleging that Foresteire would make sexual comments and touch her inappropriately in her time working for him. “I don’t care how powerful someone is,” she told WBZ. “It’s not okay.”
A second woman then came forward and filed a separate complaint with the MCAD, according to Attorney Tara Swartz, who represents both Garay and the second woman.
To date, Foresteire has denied the allegations against him. When the school committee came out of executive session into a public session Monday night, the superintendent was no longer present. After announcing the results of their vote, the committee then announced that Janice Gauthier, the director of curriculum, would serve as interim superintendent.
“Tomorrow, we go back to work,” Gauthier told the crowd. She then said Mr. Foresteire has left some “big boots to fill.”
Monday night’s meeting was filled with teachers, parents, and concerned community members demanding that Foresteire be placed on leave. The group was organized by the Everett Education Coalition.
As the school committee walked into a separate room to begin its executive session, audience members yelled out “do the right thing” and “place Foresteire on leave.” Everett Police were on guard specifically because of the anticipated large crowd, and warned people that they would be asked to leave and later escorted out if they continued to yell.
At least two people were escorted out of the room after an argument following the announcement of the vote.
Melanie Peddles, a teacher in the Everett Public Schools, called the vote “a good first step,” but told WBZ there was more work that needed to be done.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria praised the school committee’s decision. “I believe the school committee took the appropriate action tonight by voting to place the superintendent on administrative leave pending a thorough investigation of these allegations,” he wrote in a statement to WBZ News.
It is not yet clear what the $50,000 independent investigation will look like, but city officials said they should know more details in the coming weeks.