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October 8, 2013

ME school worker who filed abuse claim quits

MANCHESTER — The manager of food services at the Manchester Essex Regional High School has mailed in her resignation, claiming verbal abuse in the workplace.

Maureen MacLeod had initially sent a letter to the regional School Committee, Manchester officials, the Times and other outlets in July, claiming food services director Sheila Parisien, who heads food services for the entire district, has created a verbally abusive work environment.

In line with district policy, an internal investigation followed to determine if the allegations were true, Superintendent of Schools Pamela Beaudoin said Monday.

Any personnel-issue investigation can consist of interviews with employees past and present, the individual against whom the complaint is filed and others who may know of an alleged incident.

Beaudoin said that process was completed at the end of August, and the regional School Committee was briefed on it in executive session, but according to district policy, its contents and any corrective actions are confidential. Parisien, however, remains at her post as food services director, Beaudoin confirmed Monday.

“The desired outcome is to identify the level of the problem and create a more positive working environment,” she said of the district policy.

The district gives some examples of corrective action, which can include an apology, direction to stop some behavior, counseling, training, a warning, suspension, exclusion, expulsion, transfer, termination or being discharged.

Beaudoin said she is confident that the district policies about reporting abuse or harassment are strong and effective and said they have proven successful in the past. She reiterated the goal is to resolve the problem — if there is one — amicably and promote a positive working environment.

“We have to take into consideration all the factors that are found throughout the investigation,” she said.

MacLeod said the internal investigation within the regional school district found there was no harassment taking place, only “tension” and “a lack of communication” between herself and Parisien.

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