'Fantastic' School administrator hired by Dedham

Sun, 2015-08-23

The Dedham, MA public school system announced the hiring of Liza Huber-O’Connell on August 4, 2015, as their Director of Special Education. Huber-O’Connell spent over 30 years in the Acton and Acton-Boxborough school districts and as the Director of Pupil Services for the last 10 years. She left the AB School system sometime in September or October, 2014, yet continued to draw a full salary for the remainder of the school year, worth at least $100,000.

The AB School has refused to release a settlement agreement that they entered into with Huber, citing a confidentiality clause in the agreement or any other document related to her sudden departure from the AB school system. This is in spite of a state court ruling that makes settlement agreements of public employees and the financial terms public information.

Huber was paid approximately $125,000 by the AB School system for the 2014-2015 school year, despite only working two to three months. The School has refused to say whether she was also given benefits or any severance payments.

According to the Dedham Transcript website in an article apparently based on a press release by the Dedham Public schools (http://dedham.wickedlocal.com/article/20150804/NEWS/150808678/?Start=1), Huber-O’Connell was selected after a two-month search process that involved 24 initial applicants and a ten-member search committee, which then interviewed eight candidates to select two finalists. The finalists had site visits to meet with administrators and staff. The school called the results of the search, i.e., the hiring of Huber-O'Connell, “fantastic.”

According to the state’s DOE website, Dedham Public has a total student population of 2,776. The current size of AB is 5,658 students.

Since Huber's departure, the AB School system has attempted twice to hire a replacement Director of Pupil Services. The first search committee was abandoned and one of the finalists, Mary Emmons, was named as Interim Director. Then Emmons was named as Director of Special Ed, a new position required under state law because of the expanded size of the school district after full regionalization. The School then posted a position for Interim Director of Pupil Services but had no suitable candidates so applied for a special waiver from the state in order to hire someone who had retired from a similar position seven years ago. Marilyn Bisbicos, named as Interim over the summer, will be collecting her full retirement pay on top of the AB salary which is $100,000 a year for a four-day-per-week position. (See the Acton Forum story on Bisbicos here: http://actonforum.com/story/meet-actons-highest-paid-employee).

Acton Forum requested all documents related to Huber-O'Connell’s departure from the AB school system. Acton Forum editors Allen Nitschelm and Charlie Kadlec paid $245 for these documents, and they were finally produced on August 21, 2015, about six months after the initial request. We will report on what was provided in the next article.

NEXT ARTICLE in this series: http://www.actonforum.com/story/school-continues-hide-documents


March 7, 2015: Former School Administrator continues to receive salary despite not working:

March 13, 2015: School hires new law firm to avoid disclosure:

March 17, 2015: Law Firm gives AB School District Deep Discount:

May 28, 2015: Acton Forum wins round one with school district: http://www.actonforum.com/story/acton-forum-wins-round-one-school-district

June 9, 2015: School defies Supervisor of Records, refuses to produce index without $245 fee: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/school-defies-supervisor-records-...

June 13, 2015: Open Letter to the AB Regional School Committee: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/open-letter-ab-regional-school-co...

June 17, 2015: School has secret settlement agreement with Huber: http://www.actonforum.com/story/school-has-secret-settlement-agreement-h...

July 13, 2015: School ordered to provide Executive Session minutes to Attorney General: http://www.actonforum.com/story/school-ordered-provide-executive-session...

July 27, 2015: School releases two settlement agreements, withholds one: http://actonforum.com/story/school-releases-two-settlement-agreements-wi...

August 2, 2015: Meet Acton's highest paid employee: http://www.actonforum.com/story/meet-actons-highest-paid-employee

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