The trustees at the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School have closed their two-month investigation into allegations against Executive Director Tony Blackman submitted with a July petition, saying they found no evidence to support any of the allegations, and noting that none of those who signed the petition ever came forward with any documentation to support any alleged wrongdoing.
The findings were announced at their meeting on Wednesday. The probe began after a 29-signature petition from a handful of school parents and others was submitted to the board.
The allegations cited included claims of “child endangerment” and mismanagement of federal and state sSpecial education funding among others. But Board Chairman James Caviston called the allegations and the time the board spent investigating them “distracting and destructive.”
“Most of these were thrown out with ‘we think you’re doing something wrong, now prove it’s false,” Caviston said.
Caviston said the child endangerment charges came from a disciplinary incident at Camp Spindrift where two students were asked to sit out for part of the day’s activities. He said parents of both children told the board they never considered their children to be endangered, echoing the views of the school’s nurse at the time, as reported in the Times.
Board member Dave Buchanan, meanwhile, said Wednesday that, after reviewing the charter’s financial data with the school’s financial consultant, Central Source, he found no indications of financial mismanagement. Federal funds, he said, were used to hire Special Education staff and provide training.
State special education funding was used to hire special education staff and special education consultants, said Buchanan, who works for the state Department of Education.
While Buchanan said it was unfair to submit the allegations without supporting evidence, he added that he could understand why parents submitted the petition.
“We are not in any way dismissing the issues parents raised at the last meeting,” he said.
Parents said they were concerned about lack of communication with the board. Buchanan said the board will work to bring both parents and teachers into the fold.
“I think we have taken some concrete steps to address what may have fueled this petition,” Buchanan said.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StevenGDT.