Superintendent, Gus A. Sayer was approved for a two-year contract extension, at a 15-minute private meeting behind closed doors, by the School Committee.
This secret decision was made a month before six students were indicted for their involvement in Phoebe Princes bullying case and suicide.
South Hadley School Committee announced his contract extension at a meeting on April 28 but in fact his contract had already been voted on February 24, less than one month after the 15-year-old, Irish immigrant committed suicide. These dates have been confirmed through minutes from their meetings.
The vote on February 24 came just five days before District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel slammed the South Hadley schools handling of the Phoebe Prince’s case. She then announced the indictment of six students with relation to Prince’s death.
“The committee had no way of knowing when the D.A.’s investigation would be completed or whether it would have anything to say relevant to the renewal of the contract,” said Sayer. Sayer is now South Hadley’s school board’s top paid employee, taking home $122,724 last year.
The then- chairman Edward J. Boiselle, Vice Chairwoman JoAnn Jordan and Lorraine Liantonio made a unanimous decision on February 24, with Boiselle telephoning in his vote.
"We were in total agreement that Gus was doing a good job and that his contract should be extended," Boisselle said. "There was no discussion about this being related to the Phoebe Prince case at all."
On March 24 the whole board voted in an executive session that Sayer should receive a three percent raise “pending a satisfactory evaluation”.
A Prince family associate and South Hadley parent, Darby O’Brien said “When is the School Committee going to figure out they don’t work for Gus Sayer…They work for the community. Nobody holds them accountable.”
At recent School Committee meetings the public has raised queries over the Sayer’s contract expansion. The details of which were not made clear until now.
"The community wanted to have some say in the renewal of Gus Sayer's contract," said O’Brien. “That's really alarming that this goes back to February.
"One month later, under all this commotion, they renewed his contract…How can you express such a vote of confidence when all the facts had not been presented? Why the rush to renew? That's disturbing."