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Updated: School Committee Buys Out Former Superintendent's Amended Contract

The interim superintendent and his team will carry out the duties previously assigned to Lynne Celli.

Swampscott School Committee meeting on Tuesday.
Swampscott School Committee meeting on Tuesday.

The School Committee on Tuesday voted to buy out former superintendent Lynne Celli's amended contract, $82,500, for part-time work.

The former superintendent will no longer have a position or authority in the district, School Committee Chairman Rick Kraft said.

The chairman said the agreement was struck after both former superintendent Celli and the new interim superintendent, Garry Murphy, recognized potential redundancies between their two positions.

The chairman said the buy-out was in the interest of consolidating the district under the leadership of Garry Murphy.

This agreement between the committee and Lynne Celli needs only to be delivered to the School District so the chairman can sign it. The chairman said the district will have the signed agreement in hand Wednesday.

About $72,000 remains on her contract and will be paid weekly, the chairman said. 

The chairman said that the district was obligated to pay the money remaining under the former superintendent's amended contract for special projects.

While most employees work at the will of their employer, certain positions, including superintendents and CEOs, work under contracts that, typically, are honored unless a major violation takes place.

The part-time work that was to be Lynne Celli's responsibility will now be the responsibility of the interim superintendent and Assistant Superintendent Pam Angelakis — at no additional cost to the district.

In February, the School Committee and superintendent had hammered out an amended contract that called for Celli to work for the district in a half-time position as executive superintendent for special projects in the 2013-14 school year.

The superintendent's special projects work started July 1, 2013. Responsibilities included the following:

  • work on the district's elementary school building needs project
  • pursuing Chapter 70 and other state and federal funding 
  • pursuing grant funding
  • alignment of curriculum including STEM programs 

After the committee took their buy-out vote on Tuesday, Interim Superintendent Murphy thanked the committee for their support.

Committee members including Ted Delano said the district has already made strides under the interim superintendent and the path is clear for this to continue and benefit students.

School Committee member Marianne Hartmann said she expects the public will have questions about the committee's action Tuesday, and she encourages people to reach out to the committee via email or phone calls to ask questions and make comments rather than speculating in blogs.

Below is a copy of the statement read at Tuesday's meeting by Chairman Kraft:

"Last winter the School Committee and Dr. Celli established a creative arrangement that would allow the schools to call upon her expertise while the district moved forward under new leadership. This change was structured to incur no additional cost to the school budget.

In implementing this arrangement, however, Dr. Celli and the new superintendent, Dr. Murphy, have quickly come to recognize potential redundancies between their postions and they have determined the district will operate most effectively when responsibility is consolidated under the district's new leadership. As a result, Dr. Celli has relinquished her role as Executive Superintendent for Special Projects. The district will honor its remaining contractual obligations ad thanks her for her devoting her efforts to improve our schools."

Editor's Note:  The original version of this story said that the chairman was awaiting Lynne Celli's signature on the contract. The contract has been signed, and the district is awaiting the delivery of it.

cynthia calabrese August 14, 2013 at 07:42 AM
So now the town is paying her to do nothing? this really does NOT make sense. Shame on Celli and the people who made this decision! 85k could go a long way in the Swampscott chools, such as hiring a kindergarten teacher that may be needed or rehiring the high school librarian. This is pure madness!
Whisky August 14, 2013 at 08:12 AM
Buying her out is cheaper than defending a lawsuit for breaking a contract. I believe the SC re-upped her contract before Millington demanded her departure.
cynthia calabrese August 14, 2013 at 08:28 AM
She should have bowed out gracefully without th 85k. That would have been the professional thing to do and the right thing to do for the students of Swampscott.
Clarence "Screaming Buffalo" Swamptown August 14, 2013 at 08:44 AM
Cynthia, I agree that it's a waste of money, but now we're in this situation and they needed to fix it. She was a lame duck. She wasn't going to be doing anything anyway. Why pay $85000 for nothing, when you can pay $72000 for the nothing. Think about how awkward it must have been for the new Super. Imagine if you were hired to replace someone, showed up for work, on day one, and they were still there.
Whisky August 14, 2013 at 08:52 AM
Why should she have bowed out gracefully? She negotiated a legal contract. A few months later, the SC went "oops". She was not an at will employee. We're obligated to pay her. We just have to decide whether it's to our advantage or not to have her show up for her money.
cynthia calabrese August 14, 2013 at 08:53 AM
I agree, thus sticking by my earlier statement that she should have shown some class and bowed out gracefully rather than sticking round like chewed gum on the sole of a shoe or the guest who simply does not know when to leave the party.
cynthia calabrese August 14, 2013 at 08:56 AM
But she signed a contract to work and she is now not working so basically if you take all the fancy wrapping away she is taking money that she is doing nothing for. She is setting a bad example for the students; money for nothing.
Louis Massei August 14, 2013 at 09:59 AM
I think with Dr Celli threatening legal action everytime Ms. Landen or any board member tried to speak in a broad sense of her job performance; set the stage for this action. How can the school department move forward this year and function with the person who instilled all this disharmony try to work with anyone here? Sadly, the taxpayers will pay for this and the students at the high school are suffering thru this disharmony on many levels. Since the school department did find that money to pay Celli; when are they going to fix the field house for the students?
Myjanda August 14, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Unfortunately, it isn't that the school committee was able to negotiate a smaller buyout ($72k versus 85K), it's that it is now mid August and Celli's final year started presumably July 1, so we've already paid her for July and part of August, so $72k is what remained. It is true that this was a sunk, committed cost at this point so there was nothing more to do about it. The point however is why was a contract entered into with someone who it appears wasn't right for the job, and secondly, given that we had Celli for another year, and assuming the School committee was pleased enough with her to hire her in the first place, why we had to pay an interim AND an asst super while Celli still had one year left on her contract. If lessons have been learned, then this won't be a total loss, but unfortunately so little information is passed along to the rest of us, that I don't feel I know what really went wrong and how this can be avoided the next time... I believe the school committee is made up of people who truly are trying their best and have the best interests of the students at heart. I also understand that legal issues etc effectively tie their hands many times. That said, instead of asking all of us to email them separately, I think we would all prefer they reach out to us and explain what happened, lessons learned and how things will change going forward.
WhySwampscott August 14, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Typical Swampscott Incompetence all around! Bad hire from day 1. SC had no backbone to really address the issues caused. Celli's incompetence and arrogance cost us an excellent HS Principal. And our SC had 'no idea' this was all a problem until Millington bolted because he couldn't work with such an incompetent bunch. Now Celli's 'stealing' $72K of OUR money for NOTHING. Oh right -- she has a contract because our elected officials had no idea how to handle this in the first place. So now we pay Celli for nothing, Murphy as an interim, and our 'next' super -- Angelakis, while forgoing classroom teachers and building staff. And our next super -- a lifetime elementary teacher and principal -- and she 'out qualified' Millington because she had "central office experience'?!?! In an over bloated, top heavy administration as an 'assistant' -- responsible for what exactly?!?!? And Murphy key function to 'mentor' her to step up in a year -- setting up yet another Swampscott Train Wreck!! I hope the 'new' SC is better than the 'old' SC, but I'm not holding my breath.
Louis Massei August 14, 2013 at 11:35 AM
They can't explained what happened with Celli because they would be sued for violating rules. The board was trying to in the past year to get rid of her because of performance issues. They can not go into detail to the public which is what our newest members have found out. We are on the outside looking in and assuming. You can't even expect and answer to a question unless you address it to all the board members and attend the following meeting to bring it up. Thats their procedures, like it or not.
Mark Chulsky August 14, 2013 at 11:51 AM
All public school districts are "for profit" organizations -- they generate huge profits for school administration.
A+ Schools August 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Hammer....show some decorum. And, stop YELLING. No class. Also, to all who say Dr Celli should walk away from the money, be real and honest please, if you had an ironclad contract and it was broken by your employer without cause, you would also demand that the contract was paid. Stop living in fantasy land.
Chris Helms (Editor) August 14, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Hi everyone. It's good to see spirited discussion, but I've removed several comments that stooped to name calling and insults. Here are the rules we all agree to when commenting on Swampscott Patch: http://swampscott.patch.com/terms If it's something you'd be embarrassed to say at dinner with your mother, it probably doesn't belong on these discussion boards.
Myjanda August 14, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Mark, your comment is absurd. Public schools are non profit and none of them, swampscott included, have any kind of profit or riches to speak of. Neither for the district nor for any employees. If Celli gets a new super job, it's true she will have "earned" more than she should have this year, basically being rewarded for having been let go from Swampscott. But that certainly isn't the norm. What on earth are the huge profits you're referring to??
Mark Chulsky August 15, 2013 at 09:21 AM
Myjanda, are you aware a similar incident, when we had paid the super to go away, happened some 10 or 12 years ago in our town? Not sure how "isn't the norm" it is. If $85K for doing nothing is not a huge profit for you, good for you, but I know well educated folks who'd be happy to work for a couple of years for that.
Fred Hammer August 15, 2013 at 09:30 AM
I agree with mark their is so much waste in the budget stop over paying the admin. This is a joke
Myjanda August 15, 2013 at 09:37 AM
Mark, if you actually had read my reply, you'd see I agree that Celli is profiting from being paid $72k to go away. However, YOU made a blanket statement that schools are for profit and have huge profits and that is what I'm focusing on. Your statement is blatantly false. Two superintendents profiting from our bad hiring practices is two too many, but does not justifying your totally inaccurate and just plain wrong statements. By bringing in such falsehoods, you distract from the real issues here, which is that our town isn't doing a good job hiring supers - whether we don't pick the right ones, or are bad contract negotiators and something needs to change, which I think we both agree. The school administration is LOSING money here, not earning HUGE PROFITS. You should word your comments better. I'm still waiting for you to explain how school districts are 'for profit'. Paying someone their legally negotiated salary, which was in line with what supers make all over the place and less than what a comparable CEO would make, means "for Profit"...
Diane OBrien August 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM
Dear SC Please consider changing your legal counsel. Clearly someone was asleep at the wheel when this contract was negotiated.
Rob Hopkins August 15, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Diane nails it !! Whoever (from the School District) was responsible for negotiating the contract with Dr. Celli which became effective July 1st, should be removed from their current position or better yet- they should walk away on their own. Dr. Celli is laughing all the way to the bank and Layne Millington is now in Marblehead..... That's called a "lose-lose" for the Swampscott taxpayers & High School students. Disgusted !!
Fred Hammer August 15, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Rob IF you had girls you would be thanking a lot different. Layne Millington let those girls get touched in a way no other girl should get touched in the senior tunnel. I for one is glad he is gone hopefully now the bullying stops at the high school.What would happen if your 10 year all star team had to run thru a tunnel made up of the 12 year olds and 1 or 2 of the kids got touched in a way they shouldnt. It was a disgrace
Fred Hammer August 15, 2013 at 12:42 PM
typo thinking
Mark Chulsky August 15, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Rob, Diane, the SC has its share of blame to live with, but I'm not sure anyone could really negotiate with the teacher's union. They would rob anyone they could. They are the culprit, and they are the profit generator, Myjanda.
Myjanda August 15, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Fred, that is almost libelous! I have TWO daughters in 2 different grades in the high school, one of whom as a freshman and with all her girlfriends went THROUGH the tunnel, and we discussed the tunnel "incident" when it happened. And according to the kids who were there, nothing happened. If you like to create drama and conflict where there isn't, and spread rumors and innuendos, you are doing a good job. Could one kid have touched one kid inappropriately? Perhaps, but the kids who were there and in that grade didn't see it and said it didn't happen. And the solution is to ban all touching between kids of all kid - no sports, no dances, no dates, no playgrounds, no amusement parks. Let's shrink-wrap all kids and ban everything to avoid anything from happening. Ironically, I bet you are one of those people who conversely also complain about the nanny state nowadays...
Myjanda August 15, 2013 at 01:13 PM
I do want to add that if anyone was inappropriately touched, that is horrible and shouldn't happen, and the student or students who were involved should be dealt with appropriately - banned from such events, punished etc. But to ban the entire event because of one alleged event, doesn't make sense. Banning it and not dealing with the real issue, which is a student who feels sexual harassment is okay, doesn't make sense. And blaming Laine and accusing him of basically sanctioning this, is truly disgusting on your part!
Fred Hammer August 15, 2013 at 01:17 PM
Myjanda you are wrong i know of 4 kids all girls who got touched 1 is to many . I agree with you that most was fun and great but do you know 1 of them transfered out of district because of what happened. i have kids that went thr the school system and i am glad the super and prin are gone

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