Methuen School Committee Had One Chance to Get it Right ~ VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL (Sept. 2018)




Methuen has become the city of scandal and cover-ups. It is a reputation that has sadly been earned.

Since Mayor Jajuga took office in January, Methuen residents have been deluged with story after story of political insiders taking advantage of conflicts of interest, shady backroom deals, former officials getting jobs they don’t deserve, city contracts given to campaign donors who were not the lowest bidders, outrageous union raises, and worst of all, nobody being held accountable for any of it.

So, it should have been no surprise when we learned that Superintendent of Schools Judy Scannell has been working for eight years without a license as Methuen’s school superintendent.

We found it amusing that so many Methuen officials acted shocked… SHOCKED … that Scannell had also worked for ten years as a school principal and never had a principal’s license.

Who knew?

It is impossible for Judy Scannell to have fraudulently worked as a school principal for ten years with no license without anyone knowing about it. It is impossible for her to have worked for eight years as a superintendent with no license without school personnel or school committee members knowing about it.

With all due respect to Methuen School Committeeman DJ Deeb, we find it irresponsible that he and the rest of the committee (except Jana DiNatale and Jana Pesce) voted to accept her resignation instead of firing her. It was also dishonest and lacking in “transparency” to focus on the financial impact or how many years Scannell “loved the children” in considering whether or not to terminate her or accept her resignation.

In his column HERE, Methuen School Committeeman Deeb states that if the committee had proceeded with a hearing to fire Scannell it would have cost money and that: “Nothing substantive would have come from termination.”

That’s just not true.

Because the school committee voted to accept Scannell’s resignation, no questions asked, we will never know who inside the school system knew about Scannell’s fraud and looked the other way. Someone did. A hearing to fire her would have unearthed that and others would also have to be fired.

But we suspect that’s why this went down the way it did. Mayor Jajuga and the rest of his committee accepted Scannell’s resignation, threw her alone under the bus, and “moved forward for the sake of the kiddos” … or more precisely, to protect the political insiders.

Because of this, we will also never know why the school personnel director didn’t do anything about Scannell’s license for the TEN YEARS she was a school principal before she became superintendent. We will never know why the search committee recommended Scannell to be superintendent in 2010 without doing a basic background search or researching her certifications.

Or maybe they did. Maybe that’s the reason they chose Scannell, because it made her vulnerable to political influences. Maybe that’s the reason so many politically connected family members work in the Methuen Schools these days.

Because of the school committee’s decision to sweep everything under the rug, we will never know who made deals for better jobs, promotions, or raises in return for keeping Scannell’s secrets.

With so many scandals plaguing Methuen in 2018, The Methuen School Committee had one chance to get this right, and they blew it. They had one chance to restore the voter’s faith in at least one level of local government. They had one chance to call for hearings and truly be as “transparent” as they pretend to be at election time. They had one chance to hold people accountable.

Instead they took a walk, showing residents that Methuen really is as corrupt as people say it is and that nobody is ever held accountable for misdeeds as long as they are politically connected.

What’s worse, when the committee voted to accept Scannell’s resignation, not one of them called for an investigation as to how all this happened … in plain sight … right under everyone’s noses … for 18 years. We think that says it all.

Remember that next year at election time.