VALLEY PATRIOT EXCLUSIVE!
By: Tom Duggan – January, 2008
The North Andover School Committee is suing their former acting Superintendent Richard Bergeron for illegally giving himself a $4,484.34 raise without school committee approval.
A complaint filed in Lawrence District Court claims that Bergeron ordered a payroll clerk to put the additional money in his paycheck with no approved contract and no legal vote of the committee.
Bergeron, who was hired as the acting superintendent of Schools after the resignation of Harry Harutunian and was to be paid an additional “$3,200 per week for the remainder of the school year,” according to the complaint.
“On June 25, 2007, defendant sent an email to a clerical staff person to ‘summarize the list of understandings I have with payroll.’ Defendant further stated in the email that ‘I am getting $3,200 (extra) per week while I am acting superintendent.’ the complaint alleges. Bergeron never sent a copy of the email to any members of the school committee, only to his assistant and payroll.
“As a direct result of clerical error and defendants false statement to committees clerical staff, defendant (Bergeron) erroneously and wrongfully received and deposited an overpayment of $4,484.34.”
Complaint Filed in Lawrence District Cout
Bergeron claims that he is entitled to the overpayment because he had an oral agreement with former School Committee chairman Bill Kelley. According to the town charter, individual school committee members have no authority without a vote of the committee. Bergeron had a written contract approved by the committee which did not entitle him to the extra funds.
The School Committee did not learn that Bergeron had overpaid himself without school committee approval until after Bergeron had left the employment of the North Andover School Committee. After multiple attempts by the committee to recoup the money the committee filed court action because Bergeron refused to pay the money back.
In his lawyers answer to the allegations filed in Lawrence District Court, Bergeron is counter suing the school committee for an additional $15,000 he claims was promised him by former School Committeeman Al Perry when he was chairman of the committee. “The chairman, acting with authority of the committee, offered and Dr. Bergeron accepted, an additional $15,000 in consideration for Bergeron’s fulfillment of additional duties as Superintendent.” Bergeron’s filings stated.
There is no record in of any school committee vote to approve compensation to Bergeron for an additional $15,000. According to minutes of the school committee, the committee never approved $15,000 compensation for Bergeron, in fact, in Bergeron’s own court filings he admits that the school committee met in executive session and voted against giving him $15,000. by a vote of 4-1.
Acting with no legal authority, School Committeeman Al Perry did meet with Bergeron where the additional $15,000 was discussed and according to Bergeron’s attorneys Perry signed a contract with Bergeron which was presented to the full committee in secret session, but the committee voted 4-1 against signing it.
Bergeron claims that in this March ’07 executive session, where the $15,000 was discussed, “no action to repudiate the oral agreement reached between… the Committee Chair, Mr. Al Perry and Bergeron. It is unclear as to whether or not members of the committee were aware of, (and certainly did not approve of) any oral agreement between individual committee member Al Perry and Bergeron. Nor was Mr. Perry delegated by the committee to privately negotiate a $15,000 bonus prior to the two meeting to discuss payment.