FALL RIVER — Fall River Superintendent Matthew Malone will be docked one month’s pay from his more than $203,000 annual salary. The School Committee’s disciplinary action is in response to an investigation and report that indicates he harassed School Department employees, according to anonymous sources.
The terms of Malone’s amended contract were released Friday afternoon in a statement from the School Committee and through its attorney, Bruce Assad.
The reduction in Malone’s salary amounts to a total of $16,917 and there are other marked changes to the contract.
The School Committee can terminate Malone without cause and rather than compensating him at departure with six months’ pay, the amount is reduced to three months’ pay.
The school board has the right to terminate Malone without any compensation “if there are credible allegations of bullying or harassment of any employee of the School Department.”
A fourth term of the contract, the School Committee has the right to send Malone to undergo an independent medical examination to determine if he is capable of performing the functions of his job “should a question of fitness arise in the future.”
Earlier this month in a majority vote, School Committee members voted on the amendments to Malone’s contract in closed session.
In November, in another closed-door meeting, committee members vote retain Malone to run the Fall River School District which has over 10,000 students and 2,000 staff.
In both votes, sources indicated that there was a 4-to-2 vote, with School Committee members Kevin Aguiar and Paul Hart voting to fire Malone instead of amending his contract.
Voting in the affirmative in each session were Vice Chairman Mark Costa and members Joshua Hetzler, Thomas Khoury and Mimi Larrivee.
Mayor Paul Coogan, who is chairman of the School Committee and whose brother, Thomas Coogan, is the School Department’s executive director of human resources and is supervised by Malone, recused himself from the vote after an advisement by the State Ethics Commission.
November’s vote came after the completion of a $25,000 investigation into numerous claims of harassment by school staff against Malone. The School Committee hired an outside law firm to investigate the claims that were made in September.
Several sources close to the investigation said the report shows Malone harassed a School Department employee who has physical disabilities, calling him “retard” and other insults and referred to female employees inappropriate names.
Meanwhile, some members of the City Council this week expressed criticism over the School Committee’s decision with the potential for lawsuits and complaints to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination during a Committee on Finance on Tuesday.
School Department Vice Chairman Mark Costa hit back in a statement to The Herald News, saying “Their decision to discuss a School Department personnel issue during their meeting, in my opinion was inappropriate. Inappropriate, because no City Councilor has all of the facts and contextual information about the personnel matter and how it was handled by the School Committee.”
Friday’s statement appeared to address the City Council’s criticism: “any failure of the School Committee to terminate Superintendent Malone will result in lawsuits is flatly not true.”
“To the contrary, the School Committee acted appropriately and in accordance with the law by investigating the issues immediately and taking appropriate disciplinary and remedial action. Moreover, any allegation that the School Committee acted inappropriately by not placing the Superintendent on administrative leave is baseless.” the statement continues.
The School Committee indicated that if it had placed Malone on administrative leave, they would have had to continue to pay the superintendent and there would be an added cost of temporarily replacing him during the investigation.
“Due to the prompt and decisive action by the Committee, this matter was resolved fairly and in the best interests of the School Department, its employees and the children of Fall River,” according to the statement.
At this point is it unclear if the School Committee’s decision to not terminate Malone may lead to lawsuits, but during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Councilor Shawn Cadime said the matter would likely be taken to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
A spokesman for MCAD could not confirm if any complaint had been lodged against Malone or the city due to confidentiality laws and pending the completion of any investigation.
While not going into the specifics of his reported bad behavior with school staff, Malone did apologize in an interview with The Herald News, saying that in August he “broke the tenets of our core values by behaving in a manner that disrupted the team work of our central office and hurt the feelings of our professional community.”
Email Jo C. Goode at [email protected]