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June 14, 2013

School panel formally 'censures' Garberg

The school committee has unanimously voted to formally scold a committee member who had offended a parent by responding to her inquiry about a new program with a parody of the mother’s email.

Two-term committee member Roger Garberg had sent the “satirical” email response, he said by accident, at the start of last week. The committee discussed the censure in an executive session Wednesday night, before voting publicly and unanimously to condemn Garberg’s actions, then stated their disapproval on record.

“This public censure is meant to rebuke Mr. Garberg,” the censure read. “The School Committee accepts Mr. Garberg’s apology, however, the committee hereby reasserts its commitment as public officials to uphold respectful deliberation and communication in all aspects of its work and regrets that Roger Garberg’s action led to public doubt about that commitment.”

Garberg, who abstained from voting, apologized publicly to the parents he offended with his letter, to the School Committee and to the public at the start of Thursday night’s meeting.

“Essentially what I said was to apologize again to Lisa Fornero for a message that was never intended for her,” Garberg said Thursday. “I also apologized to the full School Committee because I recognized that the whole affair was kind of a distraction for them, and certainly didn’t recognize the commitment we had for engaging the public.”

Garberg said he thought his apology should have sufficed, and that the committee’s acceptance of his apology should have indicated no need for a censure.

“I was disappointed in the censure vote. The committee acknowledged a mistake had been made and the apology was given,” Garberg said. “(But) I know some members felt that they would be viewed as having no interest in public input if they didn’t vote to censure me.”

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