Reading Massachusetts Education

Harry K. Harutunian, Ph.D.

Superintendent, North Andover Public Schools,
July, 2003 - Present

Superintendent, Reading Public Schools,
1995 - June 30, 2003

Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Beverly Public Schools, "From 1991 until the end of July of 1995."

Trustee, Endicott College

In 1993, Massachusetts Education Reform moved many traditional oversight responsibilities of school committees (hiring/firing, building oversight etc.) into the realm of school superintendents. Reformers equated a superintendent's task of running a school system with that of a C.E.O. overseeing a business, assuming that school superintendents would be efficient, highly educated and operating with honorable intentions.

School departments, however, are not private businesses. They are dependent upon public funds for their operation and school officials are not private businessmen. These days, too many school superintendents want the power, salary and prestige of a C.E.O. without the hassle of being accountable to the public (a.k.a. their stockholders). Unfortunately, for those willing to abuse the authority granted to them as public officials, school administration combines the best the public and private sectors have to offer - minus virtually all of the drawbacks. Private businessmen who repeatedly fail to deliver results to stockholders will inevitably face bankruptcy and dismissal. In contrast, incompetent and / or manipulative school administrators are often rewarded for failure with increasing levels of taxpayer funding.

Comparing public school superintendents to private industry CEOs is like comparing "apples to oranges." The positions are similar and to do either job well requires skill and dedication. Currently, however, to do the job of a superintendent or school administrator badly requires little more than the "ambition to control others with the near absolute power provided. Since funds are guaranteed, results and accountability are simply not expected of administrators, particularly when they stack their boards with puppets" (#4 of NAPTA's political insights).

Considering the current lack of State and local oversight of school superintendents, it should come as no surprise to anyone that school administration is filled with corruption. The ability to repeatedly lie under pressure, manipulate public opinion and discredit / silence political opponents has served some administrators far better than the ability to efficiently manage budgets or implement effective school curriculums. Consequently, the "business of education" in America now more closely resembles the worst of politics, complete with backroom deals, shadowy alliances and Machiavellian intrigue. Fortunately, as public officials, charged with the responsibility of handling public money, school administrators are open to scrutiny and criticism in ways private businessmen are not.

Thanks to ed reform, no one is adequately overseeing school superintendents and adminstrators and legislative changes must be made to protect the public from superintendents and school officials who abuse their power (see Beverly Citizen 06/05/03, Where Is Accountability). Administrator lobby groups, (such as the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents) have kept a watchful eye on any and all attempts to rein in their runaway authority. Administrators recognize the lack of State oversight and know that existing laws designed to prevent corruption and protect the public (and public funds) are rarely enforced by the proper authorities. White-collar crimes are often difficult to identify and prosecute and state agencies tend to place a low priority on high-level fraud, financial mismanagment violations. In many such cases, state officials are aware of corruption but claim that they simply do not have the budget to enforce laws and hold school administrators accountable for their actions.

Entrance Plan

In August of 1995, Massachusetts' school systems were still adjusting to changes in ed reform when Beverly Assistant Superintendent Harry Harutunian was hired as Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools. At first, there was genuine hope in Reading, just as there is now hope in North Andover, that Superintendent Harutunian was the "real deal" and that he would bring unity to the town, bridge gaps in communication and work hard to advocate for the best interests of the schools and the community. One of his first actions in Reading was to create an entrance plan and interview hundreds of people. Under the pretense of being "accessible" to the public, Superintendent Harutunian conducted hundreds of interviews and listened intently to citizens' ideas, fears and concerns.

In hindsight, many in Reading now believe that the primary purpose of the interviews was actually to help Superintendent Harutunian determine a.) who the major players were in town politics, b.) with whom he should (and could) align himself and c.) who of those who ask questions would need to be marginalized, discredited and diminished. New to the job and without a support structure, Superintendent Harutunian waited (almost a year), playing the part of a concerned community leader while sizing up the people of Reading, Massachusetts.

Progressively, concerned parents, teachers and educational advocates in Reading found themselves utterly betrayed by the Harutunian administration and completely shut out of the educational process.

Control and Power

Since then, intimidation, bullying, smear campaigns directed against dissenting and / or questioning individuals, scare tactics and strategies for the manipulation of group dynamics (the Delphi Technique) have been a likely means of influencing and controlling citizens of Reading, Massachusetts.

Notable local examples of the Delphi Technique in action might include: the Reading School Committee, the Reading Building Committee, the Enrollment and School Size Committee 1997 (27 members), Strategic Planning Committee 1998 (102 members) Budget Parents '01-'03 (55 members) and the Superintendent's own administrative meetings with preschool parents. Preschool parents and those new to the school system may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of controlled information (see below, 03/02 preschool meeting audio, parts A and B).

By limiting access to public information, spreading misinformation and playing the interests of different groups against each other (polarizing the citizens of the community in the process), it is possible for a school administrator to establish a small, secure power base. Scrutiny can then be shifted away from a school department to other areas of a community (like, for example, the much-maligned and investigated Reading Municipal Light Department). While making every effort to appear to conduct business honestly and "in the open," input is controlled and most real decision making can occur behind closed doors.


One important change made early in the Superintendent's administration was to reconfigure the categories and line items of the school budget in the name of “reorganization.” This made it (and still makes it) difficult to compare his budgets to those of prior administrations. To this day, people closely involved with Reading financial issues (members of Reading's own Finance Committee!) still do not understand the budgeting and accounting method(s) used by the school department.

In Spring, 1996, an arrangement was made whereby Reading’s Treasurer Beth Klepeis and Town Accountant Richard Foley would provide business services to the Reading school Department under titles of Finance Director and Town Accountant, working directly for the Superintendent. In the name of “efficiency,” however, this appears to have placed people who should have been part of the “checks and balances” on the School Department -- the Town Treasurer and Accountant -- under the control of and answerable to the School Superintendent (see page 8, Harutunian 1996 Reorganization Plan, Frank Gorgone letter). "Reorganization" also raised the Superintendent's closest central office secretaries to administrative level (significantly better paying) positions.

Over the past 6 years, less and less meaningful, detailed information has been provided to the public regarding School Department expenditures (though some people have been impressed by the sheer volume of paper generated and distributed at School Committee meetings). An impartial, independent, outside audit of the Reading School Department is long overdue.


Under Harutunian, open meeting law violations were "business as usual" for the Reading School Committee. Members regularly listed ALL (not one or two at a time... all) "nine exceptions" as reasons to hold closed-door, executive session meetings and would rarely state specific reasons for their private meetings, citing only the exception categories.

Suspicious five minute breaks and off-camera discussions were also commonplace and citizens frequently filed complaints with the Middlesex District Attorney's office (who ignored them). Minutes from Harutunian-era executive session meetings have been withheld from the public for years, long after the "reasons" for secrecy had passed. To this day, many Harutunian-era executive session minutes still remain unreleased.

Superintendent Harutunian is fully aware of open meeting law requirements (see Anthony Witwicki and others vs. Beverly School Committee) and the rights of citizens to public information. Yet, the Reading School Committee made a practice of flagrantly and repeatedly violating the open meeting law throughout his tenure as Superintendent. Quite appropriately, Harutunian capped off his time in Reading with a $7,500 "merit payment" bonus, apparently approved by the Reading School Committee in executive session.

The Public Records Game

If one pursues public information that a superintendent, for whatever reason, does not wish to release, many strategies are available to obstruct access. As a public official, entitled to "free" legal advice and protection (compliments of taxpayers), a typical obstruction tactic might be to ignore a request for information and force the party to file a Public Records request with the Massachusetts Secretary of State. Of course, any and all communication with Public Records usually involves great delay. Massachusetts law allows a public official / department ten days to respond and / or provide public records, at which point, the requesting party can then appeal to Public Records in an attempt to obtain the information.

An administrator may also claim that the information has already been provided, though, in reality, the administrator may only have sent incomplete information or information not actually requested. If the requesting party is especially persistent, the administrator may claim that the documents "do not exist," are "lost" or "not in my possession" (some examples might include Federally mandated asbestos records, medical conditions statistics, etc. etc.).

If "lucky," the administrator might be contacted by a State official unfamiliar with this Public Records game. In that event, the administrator can claim he has already addressed the records request, persuading the attorney or intern to close the case without checking with the individual seeking the information (see example).

Another classic evasive technique is to publicly magnify a request for information. In doing so, the person requesting the information is portrayed as wasting time and taxpayer money by "harassing" an overburdened school department staff with public information requests. Yet another common tactic is to inflate research and copy costs, insisting that exorbitant fees be paid before providing the public information which, unfortunately, might not turn out to be what was requested in the first place anyway.

Bottom line: some administrators will go to great lengths to prevent access to public information, information sometimes as basic as meeting minutes and financial records. Often, that same information might be available in another community at a Town Hall, library or school department, in a timely manner, free of charge. Indeed, when basic documents are not accessible to the general public or consistently "do not exist," one should question the motives and / or competency of the administrator responsible.

Never Enough

Under Harutunian, the Reading Schools' accountability to the public diminished while their funding markedly increased. Throwing funds at the School Department has not been a solution: the "need" and greed of Reading school administration has only increased over the last eight years. Where does all the money go? How are public funds actually being spent? Reading's Finance Committee has become a rubber stamp, the majority of the members having children in the public schools. Questioning school authorities has not been "politically correct." Consequently, no one really knows how money has been spent, save for the administrator(s) and school officials running the show.

Reading Public School Data for Budget Years 1994 - 2004 School Year - Budget* - %increase - K-12 Enrollment - Staff

1994 - $15.3 - 6.6% - 3757
1995 - $16.8 - 9.6 % - 3843
1996 - $18.2 - 8.0 % - 3957 - 421
1997 - $19.6 - 7.8 % - 4052 - 451
1998 - $21.4 - 8.7 % - 4119 - 472
1999 - $23.2 - 8.8 % - 4161 - 490
2000 - $24.9 - 7.4 % - 4194 - 510
2001 - $26.4 - 5.7 % - 4212 - 516
2002 - $27.0 - 2.5 % - 4237 - 520
2003 - $27.3 - 0.9% - 4234 - 514
2004 - $29.4 - 7.6% - 4242 - 514^

^ projected budget and projected enrollment increase

"Since the 1994 school year, school spending has risen $12 million for an increase of only 477 students -- a 78% budget increase for a 12.7% rise in students. Since 1996, 93 staff members have been added for an increase in enrollment of only 277 students."

The Harutunian "Hold Back"

Throughout Harutunian's tenure, parents frequently received notices requesting that they provide tissues, paper, crayons, colored pencils and other basic supplies. There never seemed to be enough money in the budget for everything that was needed in the classrooms and Reading parents and teachers just couldn't give enough to fill in the gaps.

Would it surprise you to know that the single greatest reason for the shortage of supplies among the Reading schools was actually an official "hold back" policy instituted by Superintendent Harutunian?

Each year, 25% (or more) of the total budget for the schools was "held back" and reserved for purposes wholly dictated by the Superintendent. While skimping on supplies and forcing the schools to operate with less, Superintendent Harutunian carved out a significant amount of "extra" money for use at the end of the school year (salaries, bonuses and merit pay anyone??).

With great fanfare and horn-blowing, a small amount of this "extra" money would also occasionally be returned to the town, as though refusing to spend it on the children who needed it throughout the year was some great accomplishment.

Harutunian may claim "hold back" policies are necessary to build a "buffer" cash reserve to address unforeseeable supply emergencies. In reality, "hold backs" were yet another means (along with raiding maintenance, special education funding) to quietly feed favored administrative spending projects. While a competent, concerned superintendent may adopt such policies to stabilize a school district, "hold backs" were badly implemented in Reading. Year after year, there was no lasting stabilization and the financial demands made of teachers, parents and taxpayers only continued to increase.

Unfortunately, concerned Reading citizens and taxpayers did not even realize a "hold back" policy existed until the last few years of Harutunian's tenure. Surely, there are times when competent administrators legitimately need to conserve money... but Superintendent Harutunian's handling of funds and use of "hold backs" was, at best, highly questionable to anyone paying attention.

Parting Shots - Actions involving Harutunian prior to his departure for North Andover

Unlike a CEO in a private business who leaves shortly after committing himself to a new job, Superintendent Harutunian continued (right up to his last day as School Superintendent, June 30, 2003) to wield authority that will have long-term negative consequences for the Town of Reading. Indeed, before this CEO-wannabe ended his reign in Reading and headed off to North Andover to "start it all again," the following is believed to have occurred:

1. A $7,500 "merit payment" bonus for Harutunian, apparently voted by School Committee in Executive Session in February prior to the RMHS Project Override, was paid in his last check in June 2003. School Committee did NOT conduct a performance review this year and the executive session minutes / record of this action still have not been released (as of November, 2003). This merit payment / bonus is the maximum allowed in Harutunian's 2002 - 2003 contract, "subject to continued good performance as judged by the School Committee."

2. A committment to the conversion of the Reading Schools to gas energy. Despite the installation in Fall 2001 of a new boiler ($84,898, awarded George T. Wilkinson & Co. Inc.) capable of burning either oil or gas at Killam, the school's oil tank will be removed this summer. Killam's next renovation is not scheduled for several years. According to the 06/06/03 letter from Keyspan to former School Superintendent Harutunian, gas also will be provided to the new elementary school off Sunset Rock / Dividence Rd. by September 2004, the Barrows Elementary School by September 2005 and Reading Memorial High School by September 2006. Commitment to this schedule was "contingent upon a signed sales agreement by both parties," believed to have been among Harutunian's last acts as Reading Superintendent before he departed for his new position in North Andover July 1st (Keyspan Energy 06/16/03 letter to Harutunian).

Reading is committed to changing all of its schools to gas at a time when natural gas prices are soaring (07/14/03 Salem News article "Natural gas prices double over past year" and the 06/27/03 Boston Herald article, 06/27/03 Boston Herald article, "Natural gas prices exploding")???


3. New cleaning services contract. In spite of regular complaints to Building Maintenance regarding the deplorable work of the current cleaning service contracted for Town Buildings, another three year contract for S.J. Services, Inc. was recommended to School Committee and voted June 17, 2003 (Harutunian 06/23/03 memo including municipal custodial services request / municipal complaint letter). Nowhere in the recommendation does Harutunian comment on the quality of the company's past services (06/13/03 Harutunian custodial services bids and recommendation).

Police Chief Silva, Elderly Services Administrator Pamela Brown and Library Director Kimberly Lynn, under the impression that the contract would end June 30, 2003, wrote a June 19, 2003 letter to Town Manager Hechenbleikner (copied the Head of Building Mainenance, Board of Selectmen, Superintendent of Schools and Finance Committee Chair) detailing their concerns with S.J. Services past performance and suggesting that an arrangement using inhouse custodians would be a preferable alternative. Oversight of maintenance of Town Buildings was given to the School Department in 1998.

The three year contract with J.S. Services, Inc. was signed by Harutunian June 26, 2003 (ignoring the June 19, 2003 municipal complaint letter) and forwarded to the cleaning company which has not, as of July 14, 2003, returned it signed to the Town (apparently J.S. Services, Inc. have been working without a contract).

Would a reasonable school superintendent, concerned about the welfare of the community he was leaving (on June 30th) and fully aware of the history of this cleaning company, still sign a contract on June 26, 2003?

The S.J. services contract is representative of many of Harutunian's questionable actions over the years, recommendations that defy logic when considering the best long-term interests of the community.

4. The appointment of William Foye as interim principal of Parker Middle School. William Foye's appointment was also among Harutunian's last actions as Reading Superintendent. After a "comprehensive search process" involving a search committee and at least 40 applicants for the permanent position, Harutunian (himself the former Beverly Assistant Superintendent of Schools) finally determined that the best course of action would be to hire newly unemployed Beverly High School Principal William Foye as "interim" Principal.

For background on Foye's philosophy and his untimely departure from the Beverly school system, see the article "Principal of Changing Tides" and a 06/30/03 Salem News article about Foye Leaving.

5. The May 28, 2003 submission of a $57,164,063 high school "renovation" project to the Department of Education School Building Assistance for reimbursement approval (see 05/28/03 submission to SBA for the RMHS project) when only approximately $54 million was actually approved by Reading Town Meeting.

Of these funds submitted to SBA, $1,193,700 is for the RISE program area and $55,970,363 for the high school.

The actual cost of the approximately $54 million "solution to everything" project sold to Reading voters (see Building Pride's door to door propaganda flier) during the February 2003 Special Election is expected to be at least approximately $57 million--and rising. How can this be? Prior to Reading's (very rushed) February Special Election, Reading voters were repeatedly told by school officials that the project was approximately $54 million dollars.

This new $57 million project total does not include replacing the district maintenance office and the district SPED office or renovating the Superintendent's Office (which will be 100 percent funded by Reading taxpayers with no State reimbursement). Back in February, Flansburgh Associates insisted that the RISE program was reimbursible (it's not). The added cost to the Town of Reading for new athletic fields and synthetic fields (Flansburgh's estimate: $4,000,000) has yet to be released to the public. According to SBA audit procedures, fields and bleachers also are not reimbursible.

The Reading School Committee has already acknowledged (in writing to SBA) their understanding that State reimbursement may never come and the Town of Reading may have to foot the bill for the entire high school "renovation" project, originally $54 million ($103,000,000 with interest). What will be the total cost with interest on a $57+ million project?

Those responsible for the inconsistency in the price of the RMHS project submitted to SBA ($57+ million) and what the Reading public was told prior to the February Special Election ($54.3+ million) insisted that a specific project amount could not be included in the ballot question.

In January 13, 2003, Town Meeting voted and approved a specific amount of money, $54,305,000, "to be expended at the direction of the school committee, to pay costs of making extraordinary repairs and/or additions to Reading Memorial High School at 62 Oakland Road, including the payment of all engineering and architectural fees and the payment of all other expenses incidental and related to this project" (Special Town Meeting, 01/13/03, Article 5).

Yet, the RMHS project was submitted for $57 million. What else did Dr. Harutunian (and friends) not tell Reading voters? Why was Reading's own Town Treasurer Beth Klepeis not aware that the project was submitted for $57+ million??

See 05/28/03 submission to SBA for the RMHS project, Building Pride's 02/15/03 FAQ, release 8 and the 05/27/03 Department of Education's Cost Estimate and Plan for Financing Form F, signed by Town Treasurer Beth Klepeis, claiming that the total project cost would be $54,304,945.


What Harutunian has done in (and to) the Town of Reading will not just go away because he has migrated to his new job as Superintendent of Schools in North Andover. Reading citizens, officials and State authorities need to thoroughly investigate the activities of the Reading School Department from 1995 - 2003+ and hold Superintendent Harry Harutunian accountable for his actions.

Reading resident and Town Meeting member Gerry MacDonald (a political opponent Harutunian is rumored to have greatly admired) says it best in a 05/06/03 Advocate letter regarding Harutunian's "self testimony to his successful stewardship during his tenure (see Harutunian's 05/12/03 letter to Town Meeting Members)." Quoting from Gerry's letter:

"(Harutunian) will be leaving Reading on June 30 and should be proud he has led the town into over $60 million dollars in debt, not to mention the interest on the debt and the added property tax burden to those taxpayers he leaves behind. He now heads off to North Andover leaving behind the Reading taxpayers, their children and grandchildren who must pay the debt for years to come."

Unsolved Mysteries

Superintendent Harutunian's migration to North Andover was hardly the result of a Superintendent search consultant calling him "about a year ago at his Beverly home with an unsolicited invitation to apply for the superintendency in North Andover" (see 12/21/03 Boston Globe article, "Hot Market for Superintendents"). In reality, Superintendent Harutunian had many reasons to seek a new job and start over with a "clean slate" in new community.

1. The CCC Break-in and Cover-up
On August 11, 1999, seven files disappeared from the supposedly "locked" RMHS office of the Chinese Culture Connection (CCC). To date, the mystery of the missing files has never been solved and, until recently, the shameful treatment of this non-profit organization by Superintendent Harutunian and members of the Reading School Department was all but forgotten. To read more about the CCC files and the mysterious circumstances surrounding their disappearance, please access the following link.

2. The Anonymous Letter
Since February 2000, an anonymous letter has been circulating around the Town of Reading with the stated purpose of informing "the Town Manager, The Reading School Department, the Reading School Committee and the residents of the Town of Reading about the criminal behavior of the Town Electrician, (The Electrician) and the cover-up by Dr. Harry Harrutunian." The letter, addressed to (and received by) public officials and referenced at public meetings, is public information. Why was this matter NOT further investigated? To read more about the anonymous letter, please access the following link.

3. The Destruction of Federally-Mandated Asbestos Records - The identity of the Harutunian-era Reading school employee who disposed of (shredded) these Federally-mandated asbestos records is known and her identity will be revealed at the appropriate time.

On whose orders did these records disappear? Why? Who benefitted from this action?


Stories to share? Credible, verifiable information and or documentation to disclose?

Contact the Informed Residents of Reading at Informed residents welcome any and all credible information about the past and present activities of the Reading School Department and Reading's former Superintendent of Schools.

Harry Harutunian in North Andover - The Saga Continues

Reading history is repeating itself in North Andover.

For information regarding former Reading Superintendent Harutunian's progress as Superintendent of Schools in North Andover, Massachusetts, please access the following link:


"The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy."

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, bully."

"Most organisations have a serial bully. It never ceases to amaze me how one person's divisive, disordered, dysfunctional behaviour can permeate the entire organisation like a cancer." -



Follow former Reading Superintendent Harutunian's progress as North Andover Superintendent of Schools by accessing the following link:

Please right-click, "Save Target As" to downloadthe linked files on this page.


1992 Ph.D. Thesis on burnout in high school principals [.pdf document, 8.12 MB]


Anthony Witwicki and others vs. Beverly School Committee [.pdf download, 256 KB] - Harutunian's conflicts with open meeting law began long before he was Superintendent in Reading. This 01/04/93 decision and order from Superior Court Justice David M. Roseman rescinded Harutunian's illegally negotiated contract and forced the Beverly School Committee to fully comply with the open meeting law in future proceedings.

"For reasons discussed below, the court concludes that the session was convened in violation of the statute and that the action taken there must be rescinded... "

A 1995 newspaper article and a page from 1993 Middlesex County Open Meeting Law guidelines referencing Witwicki v. Beverly School Committee - [.pdf document, 120 KB] Note Beverly Assistant Superintendent whose contract was "invalidated."

Read the 1992 Salem News article "School officials defend secret vote, payraise" [.pdf, 60.9 KB] that revealed the deceptive action to the public: "School officials Tuesday defended their closed-door vote earlier this year to give Assistant Superintendent Harutunian an 11-percent salary increase, a decision that has angered teachers who saw their own raises cancelled."

Read the 06/29/92 executive session minutes [.pdf, 63.7 KB] in which the Beverly School Committee went into executive session "for the purpose of discussing strategies relative to collective bargaining" but then secretly voted to give Beverly Assistant Superintendent Harry Harutunian an 11 percent salary increase.


1995 resume (applying for the job as Reading Superintendent of Schools) [.pdf document, 206 KB]


05/31/95 - Reading Superintendent Job Interview [.mp3 audio, 9.96 MB] - For some school adminstrators, it's all about telling the public what they want to hear...

"The trust in community is built on its leaders. It's built on its Principals and Superintendent. If people trust those people at the building level and the Superintendent, they will trust the school system, they will believe the school is a good place for their children and they'll have a commitment to that." 19:22 - 19:37

"We as elected people, I as an appointed person, the most entrusted thing we have are the children. Probably the second is their money and we're not a private organization or public and we use public funds and when we are not handling that money the way that the community wants us to, we need to be held accountable and, as elected people, they look to you to find out why the appointed people in the district are not doing their job. So I'm extremely sensitive to that and, as Superintendent, I would build a great many safeguards." 15:53 - 16:25

"I believe in empowering people." 5:57 - 5:59

Actions speak louder than words. Time and time again, Harutunian's actions have betrayed the "lip service" he gives the public and the media.


Harutunian's 1996 Reorganization Plan [.pdf download, 341 KB] - Reconfigured the categories and line items of the school budget, making it difficult (if not, impossible) to compare Harutunian-era budgets to those of prior administrations, placed the Town Treasurer and Accountant under the control of and answerable to the Superintendent and raised the Superintendent's closest central office secretaries to administrative-level positions.


Chronicle 10/11/96 - "Almost complete lack of routine maintenance" at Reading Memorial High School. Is it any wonder that the school is now (seven years later) in need of repair?


1996 - The Resignation of Reading's Supervisor of Health Services - Reneging on promises to school nurses, bullying, abuse, harassment and threats - School Department and School Committee negotiation game playing at the expense of school nurses and students. From 1995 - 1996, Reading school nurses struggled for representation. Would the School Department recognize the Teamsters or the Teachers Union to represent the nurses? Confident that the Teamsters wouldn't spend the money to send a representative to negotiate on behalf of only four nurses, Harutunian urged that "we recognize the Teamsters" (Nurse Negotiations 08/21/95, 11/20/95, Litigation: 10/28/96).


1997 - School maintenance schedules "do not exist" [.pdf download, 21.5 KB] - Maintenance schedules for the seven schools in Reading do not exist??


Chronicle 09/23/97 - "Superintendent's Evaluation Process Violated Open Meeting Law" [.pdf, 270 KB] - A precedent setting decision that holding a Reading School Committee meeting at Endicott College in Beverly to evaluate the Superintendent (who is also an Endicott College trustee) was neither accessible due to distance from Reading nor acceptable. The Reading School Committee's practice of compiling written member evaluations and releasing a summary to the public was also determined to be a violation of the public's right to monitor the Committee's full deliberative process.


2000 - The Ten Taxpayer Complaint over Reading's failure to follow the bid laws in hiring architect Earl R. Flansburgh & Associates (now Flansburgh Associates) for elementary school projects.

Under Harutunian, the Reading School Department allowed Flansburgh & Associates to prematurely work, under an illegal "time and materials" contract from January to August 2000, on full design services for Reading elementary schools. See litigation for more details.


09/15/00 - Harry Harutunian Deposition [.pdf download, 3.49 MB] - Superintendent Harutunian at his most "forgetful" and evasive.

When a superintendent consistently "can't recall" basic information about his own school system, one has to wonder: is the superintendent in question incompetent... or deceptive?

See also litigation and...

Affidavit of Harry K. Harutuniuan [.pdf, 75.7 KB] - Superintendent tasks at THIS time include working with an RMHS architect on a $50 million dollar project???

Supplemental Affidavit of Harry K. Harutunian [.pdf, 139 KB] - "In selecting Flansburgh to perform the Feasibility Study, the Building Committee did not act as an Advisory Committee to the School Committee but rather is an independent entity formed and directed by town meeting."

The School Committee, Superintendent and Building Committee were operating as independent entities?

Documentation (meetings, letters from architects, studies, correspondence, emails, minutes and the concerns of one of the Reading Building Committee's own members "about the committee going along with plans that were obviously developed outside of the Committee, outside of the public process and behind someone's closed doors") suggests otherwise.


Chronicle 06/21/01 - "Disconnection," the "black-listing of those who request public documents" and "an unwillingness in the community to seek a $50 to $60 million dollar override to renovate a building that is not being properly maintained."


02/21/02 letter from Laura Mooney, Acting Supervisor of Public Records, to Reading Public Schools - [.pdf download, 49 KB] Administrator obstructs access to public documentation by claiming records have been provided when they have not, causing Public Records to close the case prematurely.

In a subsequent 02/26/02 letter to Laura Mooney re: elementary projects [.pdf download, 20.4 KB], Harutunian states that: "there has never been a signed copy of the feasibility study contract for the new elementary school." Who makes deals using unsigned contracts? Why is there not a signed copy of this contract?

As early as August 27, 1998, 5th ranked Flansburgh Associates was hired by the Reading School Building Committee to do work for the Reading School Department without a signed contract. The absence of a contract for this $50,000 elementary school feasibility study (facilities report, which finally materialized the day before Flansburgh submitted complete schematic designs to SBA on March 1, 2000) was discovered only after litigation over Reading's failure to follow the bid laws in hiring architect Flansburgh Associates for elementary school projects in 2000.


11/18/02 letter re: questionable payments made by Superintendent Harutunian to Flansburgh Associates [.pdf download, 89.3 KB] - Was this overpayment a mistake? Or was it NOT a mistake and the superintendent thought nobody would notice? If so, where is the oversight?? Should we really expect school administrators charged with the responsibility of handling millions of dollars of public money to police themselves?

Currently, it's far too easy for a school administrator in Massachusetts to lose, "redistribute" or mismanage or public funds. Reforms are desperately needed to bring administrative accountability back to our public school systems.


March, 2002 - Divide and conquer, beginning with the youngest, most impressionable and most trusting members of the community:
The following audio files provide a rare look into Superintendent Harutunian's private administrative meetings with Reading preschool parents.

One of the Superintendent's favored methods for gathering sympathy and support for himself and his school spending programs, many parents who attended these meetings anticipated information and reassurances about their child's upcoming kindergarten experience. Instead, they encountered indoctrination sessions that played loose and fast with the truth but offered very little verifiable, factual information. New the school system, preschool parents were extremely vulnerable to his misinformation and "scare tactics."

At this March 2002 meeting, Harutunian plays the role of a community organizer, urging citizens to take control of their town and organize to pass overrides. He disparages parents with older children and community members who do not favor increases in school spending and / or oppose the supposed "pro-education" agenda.

Truly, for Superintendent Harutunian, the best defense is a good offense. He labels and marginalizes his political opponents (who are not present to defend themselves), twisting facts, fabricating stories and referring to his critics (and who, in reality, are simply trying to hold him accountable for his actions) as "knuckleheads." One can only imagine what false and slanderous statements have been made at other, unrecorded private administrative meetings (the superintendent knew this particular meeting was being recorded). Through it all, Harutunian displays a false modesty and humility that belies his arrogant and manipulative nature.

Audio from the meeting survives in two parts... part A and part B. Currently, the following .mp3 files are available for download (right-click, "Save Target As" to download the files):

[Part A, 15.9 MB] and

[Part B, 10.4 MB]

And.. for a limited time... higher quality .mp3s (larger in filesize but somewhat easier on the ears).

[Part A, 30.0 MB] and

[Part B, 17.9 MB]

Get to (preschool) parents while they still trust you, before they know any better and before your critics and political opponents. The hearts and minds of preschool parents are very precious to Harry Harutunian. If he can successfully influence, organize and control preschool parents in North Andover (as he did in Reading), he will likely enjoy their consistent, unquestioning support (and votes) for many years to come.

These tactics are textbook, "classic" examples of the Delphi Technique in action. People trust authority and want to believe school officials are honest and advocating for the best interests of children. Consequently, it is all too easy for a Machiavellian politician / educator to pull the wool over their eyes. "The reality is that" Superintendent Harutunian should be ashamed for employing the Delphi Technique to exploit, divide and manipulate the citizens of Reading, Massachusetts.


03/14/02 - Phillips' request for a signed copy of the contract for the second Reading Memorial High School Feasiblity study. Harutunian's response: "I do not have a signed copy of the contract with Strekalovsky and Hoit."


06/18/02 - Superintendent Harutunian's Contract with the Reading Public Schools, 2002 - 2003 - "The school committee will also give the Superintendent for 2002 - 2003 a merit payment of up to $7500..."


Reading Advocate, 06/20/02 - "Risky Behavior" survey finds smoking, depression on the rise - What did the Harutunian administration do to address the needs of the student population? Reading has very serious problems involving (hard) drug abuse, sex and depression among its young people. Unfortunately, many of those in positions of authority appear to have been more interested in (downplaying / concealing these problems and) building unnecessary schools, rebuilding (demolishing and "renovating") existing schools, passing overrides, maintaining lucrative outside maintenance contracts and catering to the needs of architectural firms.

People in Reading want to believe that if millions are spent on flashy new schools, their children's emotional, social and academic problems will disappear. It's far easier to rally around costly, unecessary building projects than to acknowledge and deal with the deeper issues that plague our public school system.


07/01/02 - Regarding the approval of "$300,000-400,000 for extraordinary site costs." Harutunian's response: "No documentation on this matter exists to my knowledge."

Where did this money go? If Superintendent Harutunian does not know (or cannot admit) where in his top-down budget process public funds have disappeared... who does? Why is it even acceptable for him to get away with saying things like this? He doesn't know where $300,000+ has disappeared???


10/23/02 - Inequity in Salary Increases (School-side vs. Town-side) - Harutunian claims he does not give merit pay to school employees? According to his own contract with the Reading Public Schools, Harutunian seems to think it's ok for the Superintendent to receive "merit payment."


11/14/02 - Harutunian Speaks, leLacheur Responds [.mp3 audio, 154 KB] - "as a Fin Com member, I want to understand.. as a parent, I'll talk to you outside." Nervous laughter? Committee members who also have children in the schools often find themselves in a difficult position when trying to hold the Superintendent accountable. Though rarely talked about, "retribution" is a constant concern for parents who dare to question some school administrators. Many concerned parents, frightened and intimidated, remain silent.


2003 - Maintenance allotments have been raided for many purposes. Administrators seem confident that Reading taxpayers and the state will bail Reading out when buildings have been neglected to the point where major renovations or replacement are necessary--a school expense funded outside the regular school budget.


01/08/03 - Heat at Reading Memorial High School [.mp3 audio, 273 KB download] - In referencing the high school during a 01/08/03 budget hearing, Harutunian states:

"Three years, four years ago, when we were sitting in negotiations, the RTA brought up that one of the things they'd like to negotiate is heat in the high school. Do you remember.. remember that? And we, we spent about $153,000 during a particular year, right out of the budget, we built it in. We redid the entire units and.. (knock on wood) we've had two consecutive years where all systems have worked virtually every day for two years during the heating season and that's, that's pretty good in a building like this."

Either the RMHS heating system works fine after several hundred thousand dollars have been invested in upgrades, equipment and maintenance contracts and school lobby groups have misrepresented the current heating situation at RMHS (in pushing for the renovation / demolition of the school, such groups have repeatedly claimed that the heating system is erratic, not functioning properly and needing to be fixed - see Building Pride's door to door propaganda flier).


the system does not work, the situation has been misrepresented and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in the heating system and maintenance contract with Invensys (formerly Siebe) have been and are being wasted.


01/13/03 - Tweaked Enrollment Numbers - Over the past 6 years, Reading student enrollment numbers (projections and actuals) have been used and manipulated by school administration and special interest groups to reflect a need that does not exist.


In order to facilitate the approval and construction of a new, unecessary elementary school... and the "renovation" of an existing school (Barrows, eliminating classrooms, making the school smaller) to help cover up the enrollment gap (the absence of all the new students school officials and special interest groups said were coming).

What is really at issue here isn't about children or education... this is about school officials and administrators creating work for architects???

Flansburgh Associates has made plenty of money from this arrangment. Who else got paid?


02/06/03 - North Andover Superintendent Job Interview [.mp3 audio, 14.7 MB] - Harry's job interview in North Andover. Some school administrators will say whatever they need to say from moment to moment to achieve their goals.

Consultant Lyle Kirtman of Future Management Systems, was hired by North Andover to locate a new superintendent. Harutunian was likely, from the start, the favored candidate for the position. Who actually believes an exhaustive "search" took place? Harry and Lyle have worked together before. Harry wanted out of Reading and away from all the messes he had made... badly. His final three "competitors" for the North Andover position consisted of two superintendents with very public issues that made Harutunian look good in comparison. The third "competitor," an old friend of Superintendent Harutunian's from Beverly, Superintendent Lupini, dropped out at the end, AFTER the Beverly School Committee voted to give Lupini substantial salary increase to "convince" him to stay in Beverly. Doesn't all of this sound just a little suspicious? How much was Lyle Kirtman paid to engineer this?

Lyle Kirtman is the same consultant the Reading School Committee hired to oversee the Reading Superintendent Search Process to choose Harutunian's successor.

Lyle Kirtman was also the consultant used by Hamilton-Wenham School Committee in their search for a new superintendent from January - May 2002. Hamilton-Wenham was recently cited by the Essex County District Attorney's Office for several violations of the Open Meeting law during their Superintendent Search Process. Awareness of the Open Meeting Law is not the problem; choosing to follow the Open Meeting Law is (SaIem News 4/9/03, Behind Closed Doors).


02/19/03 - Reading Advocate, Resident Says 'Enough' [.pdf download] - "Enough of Superintendent Harutunian. Belittling residents who disagree with his views and intimidating others into silence for fear of retribution, when he should be encouraging debate and dialogue, does not inspire trust and confidence in the man who leads our school system."


03/11/03 - Superintendent Harutunian continues to direct the Reading School Committee, even during the Superintendent Search process to find his successor. Following interviews with superintendent search consultants, the School Committee reached an impasse, 3 voting for Future Management Systems (FMS/Lyle Kirtman, who worked as a consultant for Reading in 1996 and "managed" the recent hiring of Harutunian in North Andover) and 3 voting for Phillip Devaux, the retired Marblehead Superintendent-turned Consultant (and the low bidder for the job at $10,000 less).

Committee member Harvey "Pete" Dahl proposed a "compromise" in which he would support Future Management Systems if Griset could negotiate overnight a 15% reduction in FMS/Kirtman's fee. Harutunian then requested [.mp3 audio, 734 KB] a five minute recess to consult off-camera in his office with wayward Committee member Pete Dahl and Chairman William Griset. Though member Carl McFadden strongly questioned the purpose of the recess, the break proceeded anyway. Upon return, the committee voted 5-1 for Future Management Systems contingent upon a 15% reduction in cost. Griset promised to report back on his negotiations with FMS at the next joint School Committee / Finance Committee meeting (on 03/12/03).

The Reading School Superintendent Search Process: Bogus from the Beginning - read more about this tainted process (that conducted its "business" in the open only towards the very end) by clicking here. Reading's new Superintendent may in fact be an efficient, honest educational professional but the costly, secretive, closed-door process used to select him was highly questionable and unfortunate.


Reading Advocate, 06/12/03 - Harutunian Gets Warm Send Off - Look beyond the "spin" put forth by some of Harutunian's close colleagues, employees and supporters. The documented policies, practices and history of Harry Harutunian's eight years in Reading provide a far more realistic assessment of his tenure as Superintendent.

Reading took a chance on Harry Harutunian... and paid dearly.