Reading Massachusetts Education

Harry K. Harutunian, Ph.D.

Teacher?, Lynn, Massachusetts
Fall 2006+

Superintendent, North Andover Public Schools,
July, 2003 - April 2006

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

Ex-Chairman, Board of Directors, The Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative (GLEC)

Trustee, Endicott College

After eight years as Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools, Harry Harutunian's relationship with the Reading community was deteriorating. The town had just passed a series of overrides supporting costly, wasteful and, in some cases, completely unnecessary school building projects. Citizens were beginning to realize that important school department generated information about the building projects and their State funding sources was either untrue or inaccurate. The Harutunian administration's rush to commit the town to school building projects also prompted an investigation of the top administrator's past and present connections to the architectural firm Flansburgh Associates (and other special interest groups). People were asking hard questions of the Superintendent that he could no longer ignore.

Dr. Harutunian's response was to "jump ship" and move to a new job in a new town.

Thanks to the influence of superintendent search consultant Lyle Kirtman, Harry "Fat Cat" Harutunian landed on his feet as Superintendent of Schools in North Andover. He probably could have stayed there until retirement, enjoying an outrageously high salary, frequent bonuses, CEO-style perks, profitable relationships with private companies and special interest groups, obedient school employees and parents and a (mostly) friendly school committee willing to "play ball" and support his school business objectives.

Then the allegations of an "improper relationship with a female school employee" surfaced...


The Daily Item of Lynn, 09/27/06 - Controversial teacher lands job at Classical - "'If he's certified in the subject, I have no problems allowing him the opportunity to work someplace,' she (School Committee Member Donna Cappola) said. 'I hear the staff at Classical are impressed with his work and the students like him.'"

Let's hear from the staff and students then.

One can only hope that if Harutunian is in fact "working" in classrooms again, he won't treat children as poorly and unfairly as he treated some of his own employees.

"Giving him the opportunity to work in his profession is sort of a fair thing to do."


Was diverting school, State funds into the pockets of his friends (architects, contractors, certain individuals and special interest groups) while ignoring basic needs of the school system fair to the citizens of Reading?

Was giving preferential treatment (bonuses, perks, jobs, promotions) to "loyal" school employees in Reading and North Andover fair?

Was the manner in which Harutunian mismanaged, betrayed and then savagely burned the North Andover Public School system (to the tune of 187k+) fair? What is his profession anyway? To anyone who is aware of how Harutunian operates, his chosen profession certainly isn't teaching or education but organized... business.

"'We had a president that committed this kind of indescretion and he was forgiven,' he (School Committee Member John Ford) said. 'I don't think he should be punished forever for a mistake.'"

Unfortunately, the sex scandal and subsequent cover-up in North Andover are not Harutunian's only (or his worst) violations of the public trust.

Forgiveness is something that happens only after there is full disclosure.

Eagle Tribune, 09/24/06 - Guess who's teaching: Embattled ex-superintendent gets teaching job - "Former School Superintendent Harry Harutunian has landed a job as a long-term substitute teacher at Lynn Classical High School, earning a full-time teacher's salary at $61,961-a-year plus benefits."

"Kostan said he has known Harutunian for six years. In 2004, Harutunian hired Kostan's wife, Kathleen, to be principal of North Andover's Thomson School. She retired at the end of the school year."

Two years? She had hoped to be there for at least five. But then, so did Harutunian. She left when he left.

"The job was not offered to other candidates. 'This was a last-minute thing. It happened a week before school started,' Kostan said."

Yeah, right. What a coincidence. Harry hires Kostan's wife in 2004 but now Harutunian is the one who needs a little "shelter from the storm." Isn't that what this really is all about?

The question is, how will the children of Lynn benefit from Harutunian's presence? What lessons will Harry "deplorable violation of trust" Harutunian teach the children? How to manipulate people and abuse power?

And what message does this hiring sham send honorable, ethical teachers who have actually worked hard and deserve the opportunity Harutunian has just been handed?

Allowing Harutunian to circumvent the hiring process speaks volumes about Superintendent Nick Kostan and his priorities. Harutunian was the best "teacher" Kostan could find on short notice? It just doesn't make any sense.

With Superintendent Kostan's retirement pending, continuing structural / design problems at new Lynn Classical High and school construction "connoisseur" Harutunian hanging around "teaching," citizens of Lynn should be very, very concerned. This arrangment does not pass the $61,961 "smell test."

Necn News, 09/24/06 - According to NECN news, the Harutunian has "a new job in a new town" working as a "teacher" in Lynn, Massachusetts.

North Andover Citizen, 09/15/06 - State fines Harutunian $6,000 - "According to the disposition agreement, in fall 2005, a School Department employee became Harutunian's girlfriend. Her son attended North Andover High School. Harutunian, who was married, created a position for his girlfriend's son as a part-time, after-school janitor at the middle school. The position paid $10.50 per hour; the son earned a total of $540 during the 2005-06 school year. Harutunian instructed custodians to pick up the son at the high school, transport him to the middle school to work and drop him at his home after work."

What other unethical activities did Harutunian force employees to participate in? 09/14/06 - Former School Chief Fined For Creating Job For Girlfriend's Son - "Harutunian signed a settlement agreement admitting he improperly used his influence to create a part-time custodial job for his girlfriend's son, who was a student at the high school."

"It happened last fall while Harutunian was romantically involved with a school worker. Harutunian admitted directing school custodians to transport the student to and from work and covering up his actions."

Tommy Duggan / Valley - 09/14/06 - "State Ethics Commission fines former Superintendent Harry Harutunian $6000 for Hiring his Girfriend's son as a custodian. Channel 5 will have an exclusive story at 11pm."

Has Harry also been asked to pay for all the illegal phone calls he made to his lady friend using his school cell phone?

Why is the Ethics Commission suddenly interested in holding Harutunian accountable for this particular crime? Of all the questionable activities Harry has ever indulged in as a school administrator, the hiring of his girlfriend's son is one the least important and damaging to the community.

Harutunian's own son was hired to do custodial work during his reign in Reading. One custodian in particular was charged with the task of watching over him, driving him around etc. - similar preferential treatment to what he ordered custodians to do in North Andover.

Many people in Reading, however, didn't even think the arrangment was a big deal compared to the other things horrible Harry was doing to the community. Like tearing down a perfectly good high school to replace it with a smaller, inferior structure AND building a new elementary school the town did not even need (but his architect / contractor buddies desperately wanted to get paid to build).

The Ethics Commission, along with State and Federal law enforcement authorities need to take off the "kid gloves" and seriously investigate the many allegations of corruption, fraud and financial misconduct (involving many millions of dollars) that have been made against Harutunian and his associates over the past 8-10 years.

The affair in North Andover and school misconduct that finally cost him his status as a school superintendent are only the "tip of iceberg" that threatens to sink Harry Harutunian.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that Harutunian may, in fact, be Reading / North Andover's own "Frank Tassone". The warning signs have been present for years (suspicious payouts to favored private companies and contractors, disappearing school funds, bullying and abusive behavior and open hostility toward members of the public who ask questions or request public information), all that has been missing is a desire on the part of law enforcement and the media to investigate and hold him accountable for his actions.

Valley (as of 6/20/06) - School Employee Accused of Stealing $25,000 - "The Valley Patriot has confirmed that a Community Programs administrator has been accused of stealing $25,000 from the program she oversaw in the school system under Harry Harutunian for the last two years. When confronted, the administrator refused to answer questions and abruptly quit. Sources in the School Dept. DA's office and the NA Police Department say that an investigation is underway. Our source in the DA's office says: 'expect an indictment.'"

Superintendent Harutunian was a control freak who ran his schools like patronage mills, rewarding loyalty with bonuses, payouts, promotions and other favors. Wasteful as he was, however, he ran a "tight ship" and aggressively controlled his hoard of public school money.

It's hard to imagine that anyone could steal 25k without Harry knowing about it.

Tommy - Al Perry Must Step Down - "While the Harutunian controversy was going on, Perry and the School Committee were so bold as to bring on former committee Chairman Dan Murphy as a 'consultant' so that he could stay in the loop after leaving office. And if that isn't bad enough, now we learn that Perry is recommending Murphy to lead the new committee being assembled to actually select our next school superintendent."

Wow. What a great article.

And what an unusual consulting arrangment.

If Perry and Murphy are Harutunian stooges, either working with or controlled by Harry, and the corruption within the school committee is as extensive as this article suggests, the "payout" to Harutunian won't fix anything in North Andover - it will make the existing problems even worse.

Because Harry won't really be going away.

He'll still be able to influence the community (and tie up loose ends / return favors / cover his tracks) through a hand-picked successor.

Like he did in Reading.

Eagle Tribune 05/05/06 - Harutunian still earning more than $3000 per week - (.pdf) - "Departing School Superintendent Harry Harutunian is currently on paid administrative leave and will continue to collect his weekly salary of just over $3,134 until his resignation settlement is signed, says School Committee Chairman Alfred Perry."

"Perry could not say when Harutunian's status went from paid vacation to paid administrative leave, but the five weeks of paid vacation allotted him under his contract have run out. None of the paychecks written to Harutunian will be deducted from the final settlement, once it is signed by both the town and Harutunian."

As the layers of secrecy surrounding Harutunian's buyout and various "deals" are removed, what else is going to be revealed?

Town Online 04/14/06 - Super Stupor - (.pdf) - "Looking back now, with a fresh scandal on its doorstep, it would be hard for anyone in North Andover to say if that Web page would have been enough to tank Harutunian’s chances at the job. Maybe not, but as Watkins points out, at least the town would have been aware that its super was moving in with some baggage."

North Andover school officials likely thought they could use Harry to get more money for the schools. He had a shady past but they thought they could control him.

They were wrong.

Town Online 04/14/06 - Not so wild about Harry - (.pdf) - "He doesn't want a lot of this stuff released," said School Committee Chairman Al Perry, who has recently taken some heat for rubber-stamping virtually everything Harutunian proposed. "He doesn't want any further disruption in the future."

He doesn't want any further disruption?

He shouldn't have mixed his personal life with his job and the business of the public schools.

Why is Harutunian, a public official, somehow entitled to have any of the details of his inappropriate actions as a public official withheld from the public?

Nobody is interested in stories about affairs, restraining orders, threats made against so and so or the private lives of school administrators... unless those tales involve the inappropriate use of school property, abuses of power or affairs with superiors and subordinates.

What matters (and what remains a matter of public interest) are the details of exactly how Harutunian abused his authority as a public official and handled (or mishandled) public money.

Information in the investigator's report that has nothing to do with Harutunian's career as a public official or the business of schools should be omitted or blacked out. The rest of the report, which taxpayers paid for and have a right to read, should be released to the public.

Considering how much is known about Harutunian's past as a school administrator, the idea that there might be a lot more "stuff" in the unreleased investigation report is very disturbing.

No school committee has the right to hide this information.

Channel 7 News 04/14/06 - Anybody see the picture of Harry from IROR? Yeah, the news stations visit this site too.

Harutunian's greed has been raising eyebrows all over the State. His departure certainly would have attracted less attention if he'd resigned quietly and accepted a more modest settlement (or none at all).

For once in your life, Harry, do the right thing, earn some respect and give that years' worth of "salary" back to the children of North Andover.

They need it.

Do it for the children.

Eagle Tribune 04/14/06 - School Committees are free with others' money - (.pdf)

Eagle Tribune 04/13/06 - Town Meeting will be delayed because of school budget - (.pdf)

Boston Herald 04/13/06 - N. Andover board pays school chief to go away - (.pdf) - “He doesn’t want a lot of this stuff released,” said School Committee Chairman Al Perry in reference to the investigation’s details.

Eagle Tribune 04/12/06 - School Committee sold out on Harutunian - (.pdf)

WBZ Radio 04/12/06 - Harutunian shown the door - (.mp3) - “At an end your rule is. And not short enough it was."

Eagle Tribune 04/12/06 - Harutunian resigns, accepts $187,000 buyout. - (.pdf) - "As part of a settlement negotiated yesterday, the committee will pay Harutunian $187,000 and keep secret any information that led to a series of closed-door disciplinary hearings on his behavior since March."

"The only thing that bothers me about how you guys handled this is that he can just move on to the next place with just a resignation," she (Parent Nancy Bolduc) said. "Does this just free him to move on to his next victims?"

The North Andover School Committee can make whatever deals it wants under the guise of "personnel matters." However, issues of fraud, school corruption and misuse of public funds are matters for the newspapers, law enforcement, the Essex County D.A., the Attorney General, and Inspector General to investigate, with or without the cooperation of school officials.

In the midst of a fiscal crisis, with over 100 pink slips sent out and teachers losing their jobs, Harutunian is walking away with a $187,000 reward and an agreement from the school committee not to disclose the details of his investigation. What kind of a message does that send to people? To the children? How can citizens trust their school committee now? What are they hiding?

By agreeing to keep secret all the results of the investigation into Harutunian's misconduct, school officials have compromised their credibility.

Harutunian could not have achieved his objectives in North Andover without help. The public has a right to know what happened.

Clearly, the school committee had enough "good cause" to get rid of Harutunian.

The question is, what did Harutunian have on the school committee?

"We do our business in public. Ugly or not, it must be in public. Otherwise the public will believe we are hiding things, which will destroy our credibility."
- Daniel J. Murphy, 03/22/06

Eagle Tribune 04/11/06 - School Committee to decide Harutunian's fate tonight - (.pdf) - "As the School Committee edged closer to a decision on the future of Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian yesterday, town and school officials were busy preparing for a legal showdown they hope to avoid."

Eagle Tribune 04/02/06 - Fin Com: Special Ed surplus could save jobs - (.pdf) - “Factoring in $1.5 million of contracted costs plus salaries and other predictable expenses, Dawe said, he believes the program will finish the year at a total budget of between $7.7 million and $8 million. Both Dawe and Mitchell stopped short of saying money was hidden in the special education budget."

Historically, Harry maintains large sums of extra money in his budgets. He likes to have "wiggle" room. And that would be fine, that might even be admirable, in fact, if the extra money was spent wisely and on the needs of children.

Unfortunately, while the superintendent pleads poverty and "tirelessly" works to pass overrides to get more money for the schools, the usual receipients of his "generosity" are special interest groups, private contractors, mysterious consultants and favored employees and associates (in the form of raises, bonuses, merit pay etc.). While the schools always get enough to keep going, they never get enough to "solve the problem" or "fix the crisis."

If there's millions of extra dollars to be found in North Andover's special ed budget, it only means he's been following the same lousy business model that worked for him in Reading:

Request more money than you need, spend less than you should and quietly save the rest for "pet" spending projects.

Keep examining those school budgets.

Boston Herald 03/28/06 - Blackboard Romeo rocks town: Superintendent gave galpal big raise - (.pdf) - “To have something like this occur in the middle of trying to explain the urgent need to the public is
devastating,” School Committee Chairman Daniel J. Murphy said.
"We’re in a very difficult situation right now where it looks like the School Committee could be laying off 40 to 60 employees.”

There's something very wrong when a public school district needs to lay off 40 to 60 employees. Where is the public money going (besides Harry's bloated 170k salary)? Is it mismanagment? Incompetence? Or something worse?

Eagle Tribune 03/28/06 - Fire Harry Harutunian - (.pdf) - "He remained defiantly silent through much of last week as the accusations piled up against him. Finally, after a meeting with the School Committee that lasted most of Friday afternoon, Harutunian issued a public statement with a weasel-worded apology."

"If the School Committee fires Harutunian, it is possible he
will demand compensation for the years remaining on his
contract, which runs through July 1, 2010. At a salary of
more than $163,000 a year, Harutunian could demand
more than $600,000. He should be paid through the end of
the current school year and no more."

03/28/06 - Harutunian's Imported Secretary - In light of recent events, perhaps authorities in Reading and North Andover should reexamine the 16% pay raise another Harutunian secretary (imported from Reading in 2004) received just prior to Harutunian's departure from Reading (in 2003) as well as any compensation, bonuses, raises or payments she may have received in North Andover from other roles or responsibilities beyond her base salary.

A classic technique used by administrators is to spread an employee's income over multiple accounts, categories or line items. That way, it's harder to track how much total compensation an employee is getting.

Harry played many "creative accounting" games in Reading. North Andover, you need to take a careful look at how Harry's been spending your money.

Eagle Tribune 03/24/06 - Harutunian feels the heat - (.pdf) - "Many parents interviewed yesterday said Harutunian, who has remained silent since the allegations surfaced, has lost too much credibility to be an effective leader. They also were concerned that Harutunian might sue the town — and seek a $600,000 payout for the remainder of his four-year contract — if school leaders fire him. Harutunian's contract says he can be fired only for 'good cause' and gives the superintendent the right to appeal the decision to an arbitrator."

"It's one thing if it were just an affair," (Kavanagh) said. "An affair within your staff is bad. An affair with someone you've repositioned and given a 29 percent raise - there's no way to overcome that."

Eagle Tribune 03/23/06 - Board investigates raises paid by Harutunian - "In June 2005, Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian gave a 29 percent raise to a secretary he was allegedly having an improper relationship with, documents show.

According to the June 28 minutes of a secret session of the School Committee, the superintendent requested and received sole authority over the salary of Brenda A. Shea, a special education secretary and the high school gymnastics coach. He boosted her salary from $32,562 to $42,058, according to an analysis of town payroll records."

Harry's latest abuse of power is actually getting mainstream media coverage. What a refreshing change from Reading, where public officials usually just turned a "blind-eye" to his escapades.

Eagle Tribune 03/22/06 - We have a good handle on the truth (.pdf) - '"We do our business in public. Ugly or not, it must be in public. Otherwise the public will believe we are hiding things, which will destroy our credibility," (Committeeman Daniel J.) Murphy said. "The only focus of your decision going forward should be what is in the best interests of the kids of North Andover."

Harutunian said nothing.'

And his silence on this matter speaks volumes.

Many thanks to everyone who has written IROR lately with tips and information. Needless to say, no information regarding the latest Harutunian "rumors" will be made public until it can be 110% verified.

To those who ask "how can I help" and "how can I stop this guy?" You can hold Superintendent Harutunian accountable for his actions by doing what almost nobody in Reading was willing to do - stand up to him. Harry bullies and intimidates to get what he wants but when people aren't afraid of him he doesn't know what to do (or what to say). Follow the money trail, question his actions at every turn and don't accept the vague, non-committal answers he's comfortable giving to the public.

Eagle Tribune 03/21/06 - Disciplinary hearing set for Harutunian (.pdf )- "The School Committee will confront
Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian about an alleged improper relationship with a female school employee at a closed-door disciplinary meeting tomorrow, The Eagle-Tribune has learned."

This news should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Superintendent Harutunian. Bad behavior and rumors of "extracurricular" or improper activities have dogged him throughout his career. The only surprise here is that this particular "rumor" has surfaced in the pages of the Eagle Tribune and someone may actually hold Harutunian accountable for his actions.

What sort of verbal gymnastics will "Hypocrite Harry" use to escape this time? Stay tuned...

Tommy - Why Attend Town Meeting? - A special town meeting may be "a colossal waste of time and money" but, for Harutunian, a special town meeting is a golden opportunity to grab more money and control.

Voter turnout for a December 5th Special Election will be very low and the outcome easily manipulated. Harry knows the Christmas season is a great time to railroad votes through. He knows the timing of this vote will give him and his school supporters an unfair advantage.

Sadly, he's used this same tactic many times in Reading.

And it works.

People need time to make important decisions about the future of their schools and town. Leaders who care about a community give voters time to make informed decisions. Politicians who want to trick and deceive the public rush votes and elections.

It will be a shame if Harry is allowed to squeeze this terrible article on the December 5th ballot:

"The article sets up a revolving fund for the school committee. It allows for the town of North Andover to set up a separate account for monies received by the school committee in connection with adult education, continuing education programs, summer school, and community school programs. The monies may then be expended by the school committee without further appropriation for the purposes of the programs from which money was received."

A giant, revolving "slush" fund under the control of Harry Harutunian would be bad news for North Andover taxpayers.

This article essentially grants schools officials the ability to spend public money on whatever they want, without any regard for the purpose the money was received. It's a legal license to make it harder to account for public money and to divert public funds to special interest groups.

Maximum flexibility with minimal accountability to the public - that's the Harutunian way!

North Andover Citizen 11/18/05 - Ormsby Responds to Progress Report Criticism - North Andover needs more of Dr. Ormsby's practical, common sense thinking and less "Massive Outlay of Money" campaigns that feed school administrators and special interest groups.

Harry "history repeats itself" Harutunian participated in many different "M.O.M." campaigns during his tenure in Reading (on behalf of architects, builders, gas companies, maintenance contractors and others). The end result of each funding push was the same. Harry and his friends benefitted while taxpayers suffered, the Town suffered and the schools sufferred.

"M.O.M." spending rarely works like it is supposed to. Unfortunately, without vigilant oversight and constant accountability, "M.O.M." spending rewards and encourages school corruption, waste and inefficiency. Truly, in public education, "cost and value are complete strangers."

In a perfect world where schools are managed by honest, efficient, ethical school administrators concerned about the needs of children and communities, "M.O.M." spending could work.

In the real world, however, people are imperfect, sometimes unethical and often choose to break the rules when they can get away with it.

Thanks to the misguided efforts of Ed Reform (which erroneously equated a superintendent's task of running a public school system with that of a C.E.O. overseeing a private business), far too many school districts are now controlled by dysfunctional, abusive parasites who "run their schools like patronage mills" and use public school resources to increase their own personal and political power.

Granted, there are still some school administrators who care about children and are not just "in it" for the money and power... but they're a rare breed.

More obtains more... corruption!

Tommy Duggan's Notebook, September 2005 - More "Found" Money - 'Speaking of who is in charge at North Andover’s central office, the school committee obviously thinks that Harry Harutunian is doing such a great job that it voted to give him a $10,000 bonus. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve the raise, but I do find it funny how the school committee complained that there was not enough money in the FY06 budget, forcing layoffs earlier this year.  But of course the school committee “found” enough money to give Harutunian a nice little bonus.'

The oceans ebb and flow. The sun always rises. And no matter how desperate the schools are for cash, there will always be extra money to pay bonuses to Superintendent Harutunian and his friends.$10,000 is among his largest (public) cash grabs ever. Harry only took a departing $7,500 "merit payment" bonus for mismanaging the Reading Public Schools. He must be doing a really great job ruining North Andover!

Those of you in North Andover who think Harutunian is somehow "under control" or "neutralized" are wrong.

Now that he's comfortable in his new job and has surrounded himself with a new gang of supporters and yes-men, pay close attention to what he's doing with your money.

Missing Minutes - 'I went to North Andover Town Hall last month to pick up copies of the North Andover School Committee’s official meeting minutes, only to discover that the last minutes provided to Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw were from October 2004. By Massachusetts state law, meeting minutes must be taken, voted on and accepted by the committee (including executive sessions), and then released to the public. I guess the school committee has not approved any minutes since October of 2004, or maybe they are just “missing.”  Or maybe someone is not following proper procedures at the superintendent’s office. After sending an email to the superintendent's office about the matter, the minutes, we have been told, are now at town hall. But it does beg the question again, who is in charge at central office?

'If the public can't access public records, they can't hold Harutunian accountable for what those records contain.How many pages of public records have disappeared during Harutunian's career as a school administrator? Thousands? Tens of thousands? How many Reading public meeting minutes still have not been released to the public? How many minutes were released only after they were selectively edited and "sanitized" to remove sensitive information?

Public iInformation Harry doesn't want the public to see has a funny way of just plain disappearing.

Superintendent Harutunian "got away with it" in Reading primarily because the Middlesex D.A. is not interested in investigating or prosecuting public records / open meeting law violations. They have murders to deal with and couldn't care less about school crime. Perhaps the Essex County D.A. will be more aggressive in dealing with Harutunian?

Regardless, the Essex D.A. won't take action unless citizens of North Andover (or their newspapers) complain.

Also, consider the ease with which public records can be altered. Reading meeting minutes released to the public often did not accurately reflect what actually occurred at the meetings.Unfortunately, it is incredibly easy for dishonest school administrators to selectively edit public meeting minutes. Some administrators intentionally wait to release minutes until enough time has passed and people's memories have faded. Then, they create the history they want the public to believe.

If possible, compare minutes released to videotape evidence. Never assume that official meeting minutes are accurate.

Eagle Tribune 06/27/05 - North Andover Schools Custodian forced to quit over sex report - "A former Franklin School custodian is suing Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian for $1 million, saying the superintendent pressured him into resigning after police reported him for having sex with another man....Police did not arrest Magalhaes, but the former custodian said Harutunian accused him of committing 'a crime of moral turpitude' and told him he was unfit to continue working as a school custodian. Magalhaes also charges that the superintendent threatened to expose his 'alleged homsexuality' and 'make your life miserable' if he refused to resign."

Mr. Magalhaes, Attorney McBride: The last thing Harutunian wants is to have to testify under oath or face any sort of exploration of his "character." Harutunian's tenure as superintendent in Reading was one long "crime of moral turpitude" and he has a lot to hide. He'll settle before allowing his credibility to be impeached in court.

Topics of interest might include:- The scapegoating of a school electrician accused of using school resources to work on Harutunian's home.
- The "resignation" of Reading's former head nurse (JoAnn McMahon).
- The "resignation" of a well-liked Joshua Eaton Elementary School principal (Principal McSheehy).
- The scapegoating of Stoneham and Reading SPED directors.
- Theft of business files from the Chinese Culture Connection.
- Harutunian's "business relationship" with architects Flansburgh Associates and the ten-taxpayer lawsuit.
- Harutunian's "connection" with former School Committee member / chairman Robin D'Antona and her high-school based "non-profit" organization, REAP.
- Harutunian's practice of "contracting out" school maintenance services to expensive private companies (Invensys / Siebe).
- The destruction of ten years of Federally-mandated school asbestos records.
- Outrageous and inappropriate negotiation techniques used with Reading teachers, school employees and custodians (Ebay anyone?).

And there is more...

Tom Duggan's Notebook, June 2005
Is it a "leak" or a "lie"? - "Last month North Andover Superintendent Harry Harutunian told School Committeeman Bill Kelly that if he did not approve the teachers union contract (complete with 6% in additional spending the first year) that he would quit. What an ego! As if North Andover could never survive without Harutunian at the helm of our schools. The tip we received came from an unlikely (and exceptionally credible) source, so we posted the information on the Valley Patriot web site ( But, within twenty-four hours Harutunian’s lapdogs on the committee (Dan Murphy and Al Perry) were hurling accusations at everyone on the contract negotiating team in an effort to ferret out who
the “leak” was, rather than expressing outrage at the
superintendent’s behavior. Within days we received word that the superintendent threatened another member of the negotiating team. That was confirmed by our original source. Then we received a frantic call from someone close to the situation who was worried that they would be “blamed” for the leak, begging us to take the story off the web site. Then we learned that newly elected North Andover
School Committeeman Bill Kelly was the swing vote on
this boondoggle teachers contract which raises the salaries
of tenured teachers and lays off new teachers. Kelly
wouldn’t talk to us on the record about his vote except to
say he felt like he was “duped” into supporting the contract,
and offered an apology.

For his part in all this, Harutunian denied (to another media source) ever threatening to quit in order to get Kelly and another board member to support the contract. But if that was true, why was Harutunian (and his “friends” on the committee) trying so hard to find the “leak”. You see, if it wasn’t true, he wouldn’t be calling it a “leak,” he would be calling it a “lie.” So I am calling on all members of the negotiating team to come clean and tell the public what really happened during those negotiating sessions, now that the vote has been made public. And the taxpayers of North Andover should be demanding the same."

Wow. If Harutunian ever threatens to quit again... let him. North Andover doesn't need his brand of wasteful, no-accountability school administration.

And don't worry about Harry. If (and when) he leaves North Andover, his buddy, "search" consultant Lyle Kirtman of Future Management Systems, will hook him up with a new job in a new community (for a hefty "search" fee, of course).

Schools Hit Crisis Point - .pdf - Superintendent Harutunian creates crisis situations to...

1.) Get more money for the schools and, therefore, himself and his friends (raises, executive bonuses, cushy part-time jobs, merit pay, lucrative contracts with private companies).

2.) Distract people from what he is really doing behind the scenes. Desperate parents and citizens worried about children in a "crisis situation" don't have the time to think about what their school administrators are actually doing with public money.

3.) Make his job easier. People have lower expectations of a school administrator who is constantly "doing the best he can" with limited resources.

4.) Rally concerned parents and citizens around a "cause" to increase his own influence and political power. Is North Andover pride on the way?

He'll screw-up the schools, divide the Town, disrupt the education of children and make life miserable for parents in order to achieve his goals. That's what he did in Reading.

Reading Elementary School Redistricting meeting audio -
If the definition of "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result," North Andover has gone insane. Superintendent Harutunian hasn't changed.

Listen to the testimony of Reading citizens at a recent (01/06/05) school committee meeting. Many of the speakers at this public meeting were once Harutunian supporters. They believed in him.They trusted him.They're now beginning to understand that Superintendent Harutunian used them, lied to them and failed to deliver on many, if not all of his promises.

Right-click "save target as" to dowload the .mp3 files: 01/06/05 elementary redistricting meeting - Part 1 (8.17 MB) 01/06/05 elementary redistrcting meeting - Part 2 (8.12 MB).

North Andover, this will be your future if you're not careful: a community of angry, confused, frustrated citizens and parents, abandoned by their former superintendent, left with a terrible mess and no one to blame but themselves.

North Andover Citizen
School Board Divided over Math Program - "In spite of my Ph.D., I get it," Harutunian said. "Some people don't like Everyday Math." In spite of his Ph.D... indeed. Harutunian's Ph.D thesis deals with "Burnout in High School Principals." He knows how to cause or, in theory, prevent burnout in educational professionals. Apparently, however, "burnout" is his area of expertise (How many administrators have left the North Andover school system since his arrival? How many school employee burnout stories are there from his years in Reading??). Dr. Charles Ormsby is an MIT-educated engineer (Ph.D, '74). He knows that inferior, experimental math programs are bad news for children. Ormsby also has extensive documentation and research to back up the statements he makes.

Who has the background, education, training and experience in mathematics? The politician who promotes inferior math programs and tries way too hard to impress people with his Ph.D... or the MIT-educated engineer who believes "it is the School Committee's responsibility to step in and take a position on the type of math program that will be selected for North Andover."

Valley Patriot, November, 2004 - Some people never learn - "...Harry Harutunian was once the Superintendent of Schools in Reading, Massachusetts. He was forced out because he insisted on thwarting the will of parents by shoving a program called “Every Day Math” down their throats."

Harutunian's problems in Reading likely began with "new math." In ruthlessly promoting his math agendas, Harutunian quickly showed his true colors to some Reading citizens and laid the groundwork for future investigations of other more serious activities. In Reading, "new math" was only the proverbial "tip" of the Harutunian iceberg. The primary reason Harutunian left Reading in the summer of 2003 was because he didn't want to take any more "heat" for his leadership role in Reading's highly lucrative, wasteful and often unnecessary school construction projects. A shameful, ongoing "pork fest" for architects, special interest groups, school adminstrators and contractors, there is no public oversight of the projects, no public building committee overseeing the projects (they supposedly disbanded) and most major construction decisions have been made in secret, behind the closed doors of the Reading School Department.

Public anger and dissatisfaction is growing over problems at the newly-constructed Wood End Elementary school. The problems with Reading's new high school will be even worse. In 2003, Harry knew the proverbial $#&! was going to hit the fan in Reading and bailed, leaving numerous friends and a hand-picked successor to guide the projects to completion. After Harutunian and friends had succeeded in railroading their expensive "pet" projects through Town Meeting and the voters, his job as Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools was essentially done, everybody "in the know" had gotten what they wanted and it was time to leave.

To understand why Superintendent Harutunian does what he does, follow the "money trail." Ask yourself "who really benefits from this decision?" Often, it's not children, parents, teachers or taxpayers.

"I can tell you first hand that I have seen this movie before and it always ends the same. Superintendents spend a ton of money (in this case it’s more than a quarter of a million dollars) on a 'consultant' (whom he selected, hired and signs the paycheck for) and a “committee” of hand picked educators (who work for him) to “study” the issue and come to the School Committee with a recommendation.   This movie always ends with the 'consultant' and the 'committee' coming back to the School Committee table recommending whatever the superintendent wanted from the beginning. The use of surrogates like 'consultants' and 'committees' gives the appearance that it was solely an educational decision and that the superintendent had 'very little' to do with it." - Tommy Duggan

Well said, Mr. Duggan. For some school administrators, it's all about "keeping up appearances," avoiding personal responsibility and creating excuses for poor decisions while putting public money in the pockets of friends.

North Andover Citizen 09/03/04 - Editorial: Hotline is a bad idea - Not all reports to the hotline will be anonymous or untrue. The hotline will allow Superintendent Harutunian to gather sensitive information about teachers, employees, citizens, parents and children with absolutely zero accountability!

Knowledge is power. "Those who are being reported have a right to know where the information is coming from" but there are no safeguards to insure that this would happen. While formal complaints made to the superintendent in writing are a matter of public record, reports made to the hotline are strictly "hush, hush."

The hotline is a terrible idea made even worse by Superintendent Harutunian's documented history of secrecy, circumventing open meeting laws and evading public records requirements.

North Andover Citizen 09/03/04 - Hot line retribution center at NAHS - Why do you think children are the only ones who will use this anonymous hotline?? Think town politics! Spies, informants and brown-nosers will definitely use the hotline to report the actions of local teachers, school employees and citizens directly to Superintendent Harutunian.Unfortunately, adults are far more likely than children to use this hotline for "retribution."

North Andover Citizen 09/03/04 - Harutunian launches new safety hot line - Great. But who is going to protect citizens of North Andover from their superintendent?

Eagle Tribune 08/18/04 - New tip line to help fight school crime - Isn't it funny how sometimes the best way for a bad guy to hide is by pretending to be a good guy?, July 2004 - Dr. Chuck Ormsby's Report for North Andover: Fifteen Months Later - It's good to read accounts of Superintendent Harutunian actually doing his job in North Andover. The airing of so much of his dirty laundry online has made it significantly more difficult for him to operate as carelessly and destructively as he did in Reading. While Harutunian should be investigated for numerous questionable activities by State and Federal authorities, if publicity has merely forced him to become a better, more competent school administrator - so be it.

Eagle Tribune 05/29/04 - Surge in teacher retirements hits North Andover - The times, they are a' changing. Older, experienced teachers will be replaced by younger teachers who are easily controlled and manipulated. While explanations as to why so many teachers, staff are leaving have been given... one can't help but wonder if there is more to this story.So it goes..

North Andover Citizen 05/28/04 - Commission finds problems at North Andover High - Are these not legitimate concerns? Reading suffered from many of the same problems during Harutunian's reign... and curriculum development always seemed to take a "back seat" to lucrative maintenance contracts, business deals and school construction projects.

05/25/04 - - Paying Attention - North Andover High School on Warning of Losing Accreditation - In Reading, Harutunian repeatedly used the threat of "losing accreditation" to influence voters to fund the renovation / demolition of Reading Memorial High School. He can't use the same scare tactics in North Andover because North Andover High is a brand new building.The NEASC is a private, non-profit organization (NOT a federal or State regulatory agency) in which members engage in a self-evaluation process that is easily manipulated.

The NEASC reports what school administrators submit to the NEASC. If an administrator wants to scare the public with the threat of "losing accreditation," the administrator can report conditions that warrant the NEASC to declare that the school is in danger of "losing accreditation." Does this mean the school is actually in danger of being shut down by the State etc.? Does this mean that conditions reported by school administrators are even truthful or accurate?

No.“It’s all in the way it is packaged to NEASC." Ain't that the truth! Of course, this is NOT what Harry Harutunian told Reading citizens while he was selling the RMHS "renovation" project to voters. At that time, it did not suit his purposes to tell Reading citizens the facts about the NEASC. According to, Harutunian appears to be (for the first time?) downplaying the significance of a NEASC warning, claiming that the North Andover High NEASC report is "faulty because it was based on an inaccurate report submitted by High School Principal Susan Nicholson." Regardless, some people are angry and calling for Nicholson to be "removed."

Did Nicholson submit this report without Harutunian's knowledge? Harry runs a "tight ship" and is extremely controlling. To anyone familiar with his leadership style and the importance he has placed upon NEASC statements in the past, it would be surprising if any report was submitted to the NEASC without his knowledge or approval.

Could it be that Superintendent Harutunian actually instructed Susan Nicholson to write the report "that resulted in the High School being put on warning of losing accreditation"?

Stranger things have happened in Reading...

In fact, there are some who believe the departure of Reading's former Director of Special Needs was a VERY similar "setup."

Eagle Tribune 04/18/04 - Records hint at open meeting law violations - "North Andover Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian said he has his School Committee approve executive session minutes when they are written, and then he holds onto them until the matters discussed have been resolved. He makes them publicly available in the town clerk's office within 'a reasonable time,' he said, but would not specifically say how long he holds the minutes before their release."

Deja vu.Harutunian gave the same empty assurances to the public when he first arrived in Reading... and then proceeded to do the opposite. A "reasonable time" in Reading often meant "years" or "never."

The Valley Patriot, April Edition - Insider chosen to fill N.A. school seat - Secret ballots, subterfuge.. a unanimous vote.. it looks like they got their man! Doesn't anyone care that secret ballots are actually illegal? Secret ballot voting violates the open meeting law. What does the Essex County D.A. think about this?

In Reading, Superintendent Harutunian was the ultimate "insider," surrounded with "friends" and followers to protect and insulate himself from the public.

In dysfunctional school systems, one can basically find three kinds of people:

1.) people who (willingly or not) serve and / or understand and benefit from the top school officials' and administrators' (often hidden) agendas..

2.) clueless people who don't know (or want to know) that these agendas exist... and..

3.) people who recognize what is really going on but who are not a part of the organized, administration-supported education "insiders club."

People in categories 1 and 2 will be encouraged and assisted in their attempts to run for political office and sit on committees etc. while people from category 3 (or who even have the potential to join category 3) will encounter increasing resistance to their "active interest in the public schools." Mr. Pybus' political connections probably played a significant role in landing him the spot on the committee. He's useful and may not ask a lot of questions.. but who will he serve?

The Valley Patriot, April Edition - It pays to have friends in high places - If the "selected candidate" was a "foregone conclusion," citizens of North Andover need to ask themselves why it was a predetermined outcome and who helped make / influence the decision.Superintendent Harutunian has a history assisting / promoting questionable people into high-level positions of authority (examine the qualifications of various people hired for maintenance and special education jobs in Reading). People are often grateful for jobs etc. and loyal to the boss who hires them. While "leaders" and "insiders" need willing minions and followers, they also need well-meaning, clueless people to occupy space, take orders and obey commands.

Eagle Tribune 03/03/04 - North Andover's school chief insists he's open, responsive - When North Andover School Committee member Darlene Rose Torosian resigned Friday, "she called Harutunian a manipulative leader who controls the information the School Commiteee and the public receive and brushes issues under the rug to keep a grip on his power." That sounds about right... "Harutunian said he has 'no idea' why Torosian and the Web site authors have interpreted his behavior that way.

I have a strong leadership style, and sometimes when things don't go the way people want them to be, sometimes they lash out," he said. 'I honestly do not know. I'm speculating.'"

Documentation doesn't lie... factual public documentation cries out for the proper State agencies and authorities to investigate.

Superintendent Harutunian rarely backs up his public statements with facts, relying instead on his position of authority for credibility. When confronted by legitimate questions, instead of explaining himself, he often acts hurt, confused and surprised.

"When close to being outwitted and exposed, the bully feigns victimhood and turns the focus on themselves - another example of manipulating people through their emotion of guilt, eg sympathy, feeling sorry... most bystanders are hoodwinked by the bully's ruses for abdicating responsibility and evading accountability."

Eagle Tribune 02/15/04 - "Parents Hope To Change 'Fuzzy Math'" - "Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian said, he will spend the next school year researching alternative math programs and testing some of them in particular classrooms." Why? Dr. Harutunian already knows about the effects of alternative math on students, "fuzzy math" programs have been a part of the Reading Public Schools' curriculum for years. Hopefully, Dr. Harutunian will include in any future "research" the vast numbers of Reading parents who hire private tutors to fill in the gaps "fuzzy math" has left in the Reading curriculum. Lessons learned during his previous superintendency should not be soon forgotten. Few parents like to admit that they seek outside help for their children. In Reading, as in many other suburban communities, it is somehow "shameful" to seek outside tutoring. Unfortunately, school administrators often do little to dispel this myth and allow children, parents and teachers to be blamed for problems in curriculum (which are, in fact, the result of poor administrative decisions).

Citizens have tried to educate Dr. Harutunian about "fuzzy math" programs: Reading CPR (Concerned Parents of Reading).

Apparently, Dr. Harutunian is still reluctant to admit that "fuzzy math" programs have serious problems and plans to "spend the next school year researching" in North Andover what has already been learned (the hard way) in Reading: "Fuzzy math" doesn't work. "Fuzzy math" does, however, create work for tutors and tutoring organizations. According to statements made by Reading CPR as early as August 10, 1997, "many Private Tutors and The Sylan Learning Center, Woburn Ma, (and Reading's own Kumon Math & Reading Center) are doing major business with our community. If the program is not delivering a balanced math education, it should be replaced or used for enrichment only."Dr. Harutunian suggests that "part of the current problem" in North Andover is teachers who have had "no teacher training on the program in the past two to three years." However, is it really fair to blame teachers? Who is ultimately responsible for (bad) curriculum decisions?

In the time it takes for "research" to be done and teachers trained, how many more children will suffer the effects of a "fuzzy math" education? Will ANY amount of training enable teachers to use "fuzzy math" to educate children? How many more fifth-grade students won't be able to "figure out how many jars of baby food they could buy for $30" because they can't work out the numbers without the help of a calculator? Maybe it's time for Superintendent Harutunian to recognize that "fuzzy math" is a problem and stop supporting damaging, irresponsible alternative math programs."Harutunian's plan to ensure the curriculum is being taught consistently across the district is also important in the meantime, so that all children end up on the same page." If all of the children in North Andover are taught the same "fuzzy math," there will be no clearly defined group of children learning "traditional" math to compare with the "fuzzy math" students. Indeed, the majority of students will "end up on the same page" but only those who learn math in spite of the "fuzzy math" curriculum will succeed. Isn't this really just another way for administrators to avoid responsibility?

What would happen if a group of "traditional" math students significantly out-performed their "fuzzy math" counterparts? Whose best interests are served by this not taking place in North Andover? What kind of math curriculum "research" does Dr. Harutunian plan on doing anyway? Will it be the same secretive "internal" evaluation of curriculum "research" that was conducted in Reading?

According to a Reading CPR August 10, 1997 letter to the Reading School Committee and the local papers, "CPR has always asked for an open and fair evaluation. Unfortunately, we have been denied access to materials (the anonymous elementary school teacher surveys). The superintendent has refused to allow CPR to review these surveys claiming that they are internal documents. In an open and fair process there is no reason that these materials should be concealed. It raises serious questions as to the Administrations dedication in seeking the truth and the superintendent's report seems to add a layer of interpretations to the Teacher's Survey. Reporting only on 50% of the survey's questions. CPR has had to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act of Massachusetts in order to review these documents."

Who benefits from the implementation of "fuzzy math" programs? What publishers are involved? Are the learning materials involved disposable (needing to be purchased new year after year)? Who chooses to implement and support these programs and why? Look for patterns and follow the money trail.

See also:NYC Hold - Honest, Open Debate on Mathematics Reform, Mathematically Correct and
American Collage Network For Educators (not directly related to mathematics but still a fine satire of lazy, ineffective "alternative" education programs).

Lawrence Eagle Tribune 02/12/04 - Refusal To Meet Galls Parents, Leaders - Is the strategy here to turn parents, community leaders against the Selectmen? North Andover's current situation may appear different than Reading's (and not yet as bleak) but the patterns of divisiveness are the same (and a similar "blame the selectmen" scenario played out in Reading only a few years ago). Under Harutunian, whenever the schools could not get what they wanted from Town Officials and Reading's Selectmen through negotiation or communication, they went on the offensive - literally. Make no mistake, blame IS an effective means of turning the public (and especially parents with children in the schools) against Town government. Internal conflicts and political infighting greatly assisted Harutunian in Reading.

Considering that Harutunian is already implementing many of the same tactics in North Andover, it requires no great stretch of the imagination to conclude that whatever "ill-will" exists among North Andover citizens, parents and the selectmen will be used to the advantage of the schools. Be prepared.

In Reading, Superintendent Harutunian imported a consultant / facilitator (Lyle Kirtman, the SAME facilitator-turned-superintendent search consultant who "lured" Harutunian to his new job in North Andover) to help organize forums to discuss the "disconnect" between the Town and the schools. Under the guise of openness, the forums were championed as a means to help "heal" the community. In reality, the forums were used to generate support for the Harutunian administration among parents and citizens (via the Delphi Technique) and the "disconnect" was a part of a larger school department strategy to seize funds and power away from the Town.

Ultimately, the strategy worked and the Reading School Department emerged from the conflict stronger and more influential than ever before. Mostly defeated, Town officials were forced to make concession after concession to the schools and, every time they gave in to demands, school officials only asked for more. The Harutunian administration was very good at "taking." If money and funds will help further the expansion of Superintendent Harutunian's public school "business" enterprises, more money and funds is exactly what the schools shall get.

Sadly, in the "business of education," issues such as curriculum and the education of children are almost an afterthought. Will maintenance of North Andover's Town buildings soon be placed under the oversight of the schools (as it was in Reading)? Along with special education, maintenance is one of the primary areas of funding the Harutunian administration exploited in Reading to "cough up" extra money and influence. Superintendent Harutunian seems to prefer to have other people "do his fighting" for him. To this end, he surrounds himself with supporters, employees and followers. In the following .mp3 audio clip, former Reading School Committee Chairman William Griset addresses the Reading Selectmen on the issue of school construction funding and bringing a "special election" override vote to Town Meeting.

It is the manner in which Griset, representing the interests of the school department, speaks to the selectmen that should be of interest to North Andover citizens and taxpayers. "I'm dismayed by the lack of trust that I see, that flows.. and I've sat for hours now, fighting back the urge to say this.. that flows from some members of the board of selectmen towards the school committee."- William Griset, Chairman of the Reading School Committee, at a 12/10/02 Selectmen's meeting [.mp3 download, 2.59 MB]

Lawrence Eagle Tribune 01/12/04 - North Andover elementary principals to shift schools - The dividing and conquering of North Andover continues. By breaking up existing ties and relationships, Superintendent Harutunian can more easily undermine the support systems of current principals, staff and establish new, more favorable hierarchies of control. "Familiar faces will change."

Lawrence Eagle Tribune 12/01/03 - North Andover's school chief seeks equity in supply fund - Apparently, Harutunian is blaming his predecessor in North Andover, Superintendent William Allen, for "unexplainable... inconsistencies among the schools in this year's spending plan." He also claims that he will add "$410,000 to next year's supply fund to put more of the district's $29.8 million budget directly into the classroom."

Ask Superintendent Harutunian about his own history of (mis)handling of supply funds in Reading, Massachusetts. Ask about Harutunian's official "hold back" policy which left Reading students and teachers without basic supplies year after year. He may claim "hold back" policies are necessary to provide a "buffer" cash reserve to address unforeseeable supply emergencies.

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.

In the hands of some superintendents, "hold backs" are yet another means (along with raiding maintenance, special education funding) available to feed pet spending projects. How much of North Andover's supply funds will actually reach the classrooms where they are needed and how much will be diverted for other uses? By adding money to North Andover's supply fund, Harutunian will potentially have even more captial at his disposal to quietly "reserve."

Supply funds can become extremely difficult to track if the superintendent improperly employs "principal's budgets" to distribute the money. In Reading, "principal's budgets" were defined as the amount of money given to each principal, each year, for assorted pupil supply expenditures. Who in Reading got more, who got less... and how were any of these funds actually spent? The public never knew for sure because the exact amount of money given to each Reading principal was never delineated in Harutunian's official budgets.

Harry now seeks equity in supply funding for all North Andover's schools? Smoke and mirrors... how much time will pass before the specifics of supply funding distribution are withheld from the North Andover public (as they were in Reading)?

Lawrence Eagle Tribune 11/17/03 - DA Probes Complaint of Closed Meeting - Do "birds of a feather flock together?" Hopefully, Lawrence Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy (member, board of directors, Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative) has not been getting advice on Open Meeting Law from former Reading Superintendent of Schools (and GLEC Chairman of the Board) Harry Harutunian. During Harutunian's reign, the Reading School Committee regularly listed ALL (not one or two at a time... all) "nine exceptions" as reasons to hold closed-door, executive session meetings. Suspicious "five-minute breaks" and off-camera discussions were commonplace and citizens frequently filed complaints with the Middlesex District Attorney's office (who ignored them). Minutes of Harutunian-era executive session meetings were withheld from the public for years, long after their "reasons" for secrecy had passed (and some minutes are still unreleased! See past News entries, Harry Harutunian, Open Meeting Law). The Essex County DA is different; they can and do investigate murders and OML violations at the same time.

Lawrence Eagle Tribune 10/19/03 - North Andover school chief: No area safe from cuts - Somehow, the "sky is always falling" for Harry Harutunian and there's never, ever enough money. Times are tough but the former Reading Superintendent of Schools excels at making situations look a lot worse than they actually are. Indeed, "fixing" a problem is so much easier if you constantly exaggerate (and you, yourself, exacerbate) the severity of the problem.In Reading, Harutunian frequently threatened to cut programs, teachers, staff.

Year after year, fearful citizens (and especially parents with children in the public schools) responded to the threats with ever-increasing amounts of funding. To the rallying cry of "do it for the children," they gave and gave, feeding the spending programs of the Harutunian administration, regardless of whether they could afford it or not. How long before the citizens of North Andover are forced to pass costly overrides to compensate for Superintendent Harutunian's inability to live within the community's means?

To date, Harutunian's scare tactics have saddled the town of Reading, Massachusetts with an unnecessary new elementary school and a looming $54-$57+ million dollar new High School to replace the "aging" (but structurally sound) Reading Memorial High School that his own administration failed to properly maintain.

As helpful Harry "is building the new spending plan from the ground up," taxpayers of North Andover would be wise to keep a watchful eye on exactly how the budget is being "restructured." Changes that appear to be done in the name of efficiency and frugality may actually be designed to make it more difficult to follow the "money trail" and compare the "reorganized" budget with the budgets of prior administrations.

Lawrence Eagle Tribune 09/18/03 - Does anyone know who I am? - Same game, different community. The homework passes, the pins, the interviews, the epic classroom visit marathons... the same insatiable need for recognition (under the guise of striving to be accessible to the public).

"...Dann Nicolosi and Harmony Lu, both 13, said it seemed like Harutunian was trying too hard to be funny.'I thought the gesture of him coming in to present himself was good,' Harmony said, 'but it seemed like he was trying to be too buddy-buddy with us when he was a strange man coming into our classroom.'"Out of the mouths of babes...

North Andover Citizen 09/11/03 - Communications to go through Superintendent - Reading history continues to repeat itself in North Andover. Former Reading Superintendent Harutunian's unofficial practice of tightly controlling communications and (mis)information from his central office has now resurfaced as official North Andover policy. Control of information is (and has been) an essential part of Harutunian's "management" style, tactics and his assertion that such a policy "is not one he has worked with before" is wholly untrue.

North Andover school principals and secretaries... you'll get used to playing solitaire on your computer and having little to do but distribute notices and (mis)information delivered to you from the central office. See information on the Delphi Technique, Harry Harutunian.

North Andover Citizen 08/07/03 - New Superintendent Wants to Bridge the Gap Between Town and Schools - More appropriately, "New Superintendent Wants to Bridge the Gap Between Schools and Taxpayer Wallets."

Throughout Harry Harutunian's first year as Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools, he was considered by many to be a trusted, valued and respected community leader. There was genuine hope in Reading, just as there is now hope in North Andover, that Harry Harutunian was the "real deal" and that he would bring unity to the town, bridge gaps in communication and do great things for the schools and the community.

Among other things, Harutunian's own handling of Reading health issues, contracts, budgets, public information, open meeting law, the media, enrollment statistics, school maintenance issues, employee "merit pay," and questionable construction deals crushed such hopes and convinced many citizens that the former Superintendent might not be advocating for the best interests of the community. Harutunian's "wolf-in-sheep's-clothing" takeover of North Andover continues...

Lawrence Eagle Tribune, 07/27/03, New school chief looks to community like a hungry wolf looks to a flock of sheep! [.pdf download, 87 KB] - More messages to lull the citizens of North Andover into a false sense of security.

This time around, Harutunian isn't even creative enough to deviate from the same tactics he used eight years ago to deceive citizens of Reading. New to the job and without his usual support structure, Harry Harutunian is waiting, playing the part of the concerned community leader while sizing up the people of North Andover. He needs to conduct interviews to determine who the major players are in town politics and how they may relate to his agenda (control and power). As in Reading, those who help him will be rewarded (for as long as they're useful) and those who question and oppose him shut out of the educational process.

North Andover Citizen, 07/24/03, Wild About Harry [.pdf download, 19.8 KB] - The notorious Harutunian "homework passes" and pins have migrated to North Andover. Citizens beware!

In Reading, Harutunian distributed pins arbitrarily, leaving some elementary children feeling left out, frustrated and confused. Caring teachers had to cope with the consequences of his classroom visits. Harutunian's practice of distributing homework passes (rewards given to students who approached the superintendent and identified him) also generated resentment among parents and teachers. Why?

The passes undermined the authority and ability of Reading teachers to do their jobs and negated the value of an integral part of the learning process: home w o r k. Pins and passes were superficial rewards that gave the wrong message to students but did serve to boost the superintendent's ego. Harutunian has embarked on a new PR campaign to convince the people of North Andover (and, perhaps, himself) that he is a good communicator, a friendly person and will be an attentive, accessible Superintendent. He is so much more than that. Don't be fooled.

Recognize the Patterns - "Most cases of bullying involve a serial bully - one person to whom all the dysfunction can be traced. The serial bully has done this before, is doing it now - and will do it again. Investigation will reveal a string of predecessors who have either left unexpectedly or in suspicious circumstances, have taken early or ill-health retirement, have been unfairly dismissed, have been involved in disciplinary or legal action, or have had stress breakdowns. Serial bullies exploit the recent frenzy of downsizing and reorganisation to hinder recognition of the pattern of previous cases."

"The serial bully in the workplace is often found in a job which is a position of power, has a high administrative or procedural content but little or no creative requirement, and which provides opportunities for demonstrating a 'caring' or 'leadership' nature." -


The name refers to a Dickens character who exploits the weaknesses of others, and is selfish and corrupt behind a display of benevolence.

Harry's got his payout money and an agreement of silence from the North Andover School Committee, but he's not "in the clear" by any means.

If you're disgusted by Harutunian's actions and the actions of the North Andover School Committee and you want answers and accountability, do not hesitate to contact the Essex County District Attorney and complain. If enough people complain and evidence starts piling up that suggests that Harutunian, school employees AND / or members of the school committee engaged in questionable activities with public money, the D.A. may decide to do something.

Public corruption and the misuse of public funds is (believe it or not) a serious crime.

The discovery of "fraud" (or a conspiracy to commit fraud) may negate any of the deals Harry, Perry and other public officials may have made with each other.

"We do our business in public. Ugly or not, it must be in public. Otherwise the public will believe we are hiding things, which will destroy our credibility."
- Daniel J. Murphy, 03/22/06

For information about Harry Harutunian's tenure as Superintendent of Schools in Reading, Massachusetts, please access the following link:

North Andover News (continued)

Eagle Tribune 10/05/06 - Life is good when you feed at the public trough - "How did he (Harutunian) get the job? Well, he happens to be very good friends with the superintendent in Lynn, Nick Kostan, whose wife, Kathleen, Harutunian hired to serve as principal of a North Andover elementary school in 2004. She retired after working there for two years, and having increased her salary from the $76,000 she was earning as a principal in Peabody, to $91,670. Such an increase can do wonders for an educator's pension which is based on his or her three highest-paying years.

So this fall, when he could have hired a novice teacher for half the cost to serve as a long-term substitute at the high school, Kostan chose to take care of his pal."

Birds of a feather flock together.

Apparently, Harutunian and Kostan feed at the same place?

Eagle Tribune 09/15/06 - State fines Harutunian for giving girlfriend's teenage son school job; Ethics Commission calls deal 'deplorable violation' of trust - "Former School Superintendent Harry Harutunian created a new position to employ his girlfriend's son as a janitor at North Andover High School and then tried to cover up the indiscretion, prompting a $6,000 fine, the state Ethics Commission said yesterday.

Later in December, Harutunian ordered a counselor at the school to write a letter, backdated to Nov. 21, asking that Harutunian find the teen a job. In its report, the commission termed the letter a 'false memo' and discusses it under the heading 'cover-up.'"

Just when you think you know all the sordid details of Harutunian's activities, if you dig a little bit deeper, you find more.

In Reading, the custodian who was assigned to watch over Harutunian's son for the summer ended up getting fired. Somebody.. started spreading a nasty rumor about him having an alchohol problem.

It's not surprising to hear that Harry fabricated or ordered employees to create false documents, either. Under his direction, in Reading, countless fake and inaccurate memos and documents were created. Backdating documents, cover-ups and the fabrication of meeting minutes (a.k.a. rewriting history) were common activities for some members of the Harutunian administration.

Eagle Tribune 05/06/06 - Parents want payment made, Harutunian gone - (.pdf) - "On Tuesday, Perry told The Eagle-Tribune that Harutunian would continue to get his weekly paycheck until the settlement is signed by both parties. Yesterday, however, he said that was not true, and that the weekly pay would be deducted from the final settlement amount."

In light of information like this, how can the public believe what Mr. Perry says anymore? Unforuntately, it sounds like he's now working "damage control" duty for Harry.

Harutunian's settlement is public information and the entire document should be released to the public.

That way, everyone will know the truth.

"Parents yesterday seemed resigned to the dollar amounts involved and simply want the Harutunian saga behind them."

"The buyout amount is 'equivalent to a couple of teachers, but there are times when you just have to deal with the consequences,' said Kim Dawley, a mother of two with one daughter in first grade."

That's right, when someone bullies you, you should just give them what they want and hope they will go away.

What a great lesson to teach the children.

Future Managment - William E. Allen, Senior Project Consultant - (.pdf) - Is this the same Willam Allen who served as Superintendent of Schools in North Andover?

Boston Globe 04/16/06 - School Chief's Deal Assailed - (.pdf) - ''We spent an awful lot of time on this process making sure we did this step by step so we wouldn't have a liability problem," he (Perry) said.."

''I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the committee," said Diana Headrick, the mother of two students. In an interview Wednesday, she said parents have raised questions about Harutunian's management and personal behavior for years, ''and it's fallen on deaf ears."

WRKO 680 Radio with John DePetro - 04/14/06 Harutunian Discussion Clip 1 - (.mp3) - Caller: "I would say that he's got something over them or somebody on the committee that would have to come out in public and, the thing is, his affair was probably well enough known that they couldn't ignore it, it wouldn't go away. So they probably came to a gentleman's agreement that let's just walk away from each other, we'll pay you and you don't spill the beans on us."

DePetro: "Listen, you don't have a gentleman's agreement. And if that is in fact the case that people are alleging, well then the whole system is broken, because you can't operate that way."

04/14/06 Harutunian Discussion Clip 2 - (.mp3) Caller from North Andover: "The bigger issue beyond the affair is truly the fiscal mismanagment of the school's finances over the past three years. And, you know, this is just one more, one more act or step in a pattern of fiscal mismanagment that we've seen, you know, with the superintendent producing budgets that don't match expenses or don't report expenses or use money from accounts that he's not supposed to use and taking away from the kids' education."

Where is the Essex County District Attorney?

If the extent of the corruption ended with the affair, if Harutunian and others did not have secrets to hide, partial or even full disclosure of information and the P.I.'s investigation would not be a problem.

There is more.

Eagle Tribune 04/08/06 - Problems could not have been foreseen - (.pdf) - Only if you had your eyes closed! Lyle Kirtman of Beverly-based Future Managment Systems is an old business associate of Harutunian. Lyle worked as a consultant in Reading for a time during Harutunian's tenure. Kirtman was also hired by the Reading School Committee, while Harutunian was still Reading Superintendent, to "engineer" the selection of Hartunian's hand-picked successor, Patrick Schettini, in a process that took place primarily behind closed doors.

Considering the nature of their symbiotic "business relationship," would it be surprising if Kirtman did not inform North Andover officials about Harutunian's past and the many allegations of wrongdoing that were made against him in Reading? Is it surprising if Kirtman would place Hartunian's interests above those of the North Andover community?

Apparently, North Andover officials did not do basic research into Harutunian's past. If they had made even minimal inquiries, North Andover officials would have found ample basis to question the terms of the contract they, relying heavily on Kirtman's professional expertise, were negotiating with Harutunian. A cursory look would have shown that Harutunian was running from his past in Reading (and Beverly and possibly also Connecticut).

What were the terms of headhunter / superintendent search consultant Lyle Kirtman's contract with North Andover school officials?

Lyle Kirtman failed North Andover. Harutunian's reputation as a problem superintendent was well-known among both educational professionals and citizens.

-----------------------------------------------------------------ADDENDUM:12/21/03 - Boston Globe article, "Hot Market for Superintendents (.pdf) in which Harry brags about being aggressively pursued by Kirtman.

Contrast the above article with Kirtman's public statements at a Reading School Committee meeting in which he explains that "We never call anybody."(.mp3, 722kb).

Eagle Tribune 04/08/06 - Lawyer defends Harutunian - (.pdf) - "The statement indicates the School Committee's investigation- and Hartunian's defense - may center on the timing of the affair."

The timing of the affair is irrevelant. Harutunian admits he had an affair with a subordinate. What he did was a violation of the public trust and inappropriate, no matter how he and his attorney now attempt to portray his actions. Harutunian and his lawyer are trying to "frame" the discussion by pretending that the timing and other technicalities are important.

"Long, who is a Quincy-based lawyer, issued the statement because he said Perry broke an agreement between the School Committee and Harutunian not to talk to the media during the investigation."

The North Andover school committee is obligated by the Open Meeting Law to make public the reasons for going into executive session meetings and the parties involved. Anyone can read the posting for that executive session meeting and get the same information Perry allegedly told the Eagle Tribune.

Attacking Perry for releasing information he was already obligated to make public is just an attempt by Harutunian and his attorney to "build a fire in another corner", distract people from Harutunian's actions and promote their own "spin".

Eagle Tribune 04/01/06 - School Committee must stand ground with Harutunian - (.pdf) - "North Andover cannot afford an expensive payout to a man who deserves to be fired for his behavior in office. To pay Harutunian a settlement on his contract would unfairly punish North Andover taxpayers and students for the superintendent's misdeeds."Give an inch and Harutunian will take a mile. It may already be too late.

Eagle Tribune 04/01/06 - Harutunian logged 900 calls to school secretary with town-paid phone - (.pdf) - "The two logged 152 hours of talk time during the five-month period, accounting for over half the 272 hours Harutunian used the school phone." - When personnel issues go public - (.pdf) - Food for thought from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees Journal Summer 2003. See pages 32, 33 and 36.

Eagle Tribune 03/23/06 - School Committee gives Harutunian vacation during investigation - (.pdf) - "...the embattled superintendent acknowledged his relationship with secretary and high school gymnastics coach Brenda A. Shea and apologized for not foreseeing "the public's perception of a personal relationship I began with a school department coworker."

No, she's an employee. And he's her boss. And not just any boss but the "school chief" who sets policy for everyone else. "

Documents show Harutunian requested and received sole authority over Shea's salary by removing her from the secretarial union in June, then raised her pay by 29 percent, from $32,562 to $42,058. By comparison, the highest paid union secretaries received $34,883, after a 2.5 percent raise last year, the negotiated contract shows. Harutunian has removed three other secretaries from the union — with School Committee and union approval — because he said they had access to information that could compromise contract negotiations."

"Harutunian's statement concluded: 'In the end, I recognize that personal decisions made by me are the source of these troubles and I am sorry for the pain to other individuals and the community my decisions have caused.'"

He's sorry he got caught.

Valley Patriot 03/24/06 - Harutunian to take Leave - "Today the N.A. School Committee hired an independent investigator to do their job for them in the Harutunian matter. Harutunian has agreed to take sick and vacation time during the investigation. The impotent school committee will now be forced to go through the school budget process without Harutunian. Asst. Superintendent Dr. Richard Bergeron (any relation to Mary Lou??) will be taking over until Harutunian is either fired or returns to work."

Valley Patriot 03/24/06 - Candidate calls for Harutunian's Resigination - "Dan Lanen, Candidate for Selectman in N. Andover is calling for the resignation / or firing of Superintendent Harry Harutunian."

Salem News 03/23/06 - Ex-Beverly schools administrator faces misconduct complaint - "After more than an hour of closed-door discussions, the North Andover School Committee yesterday extended until noon tomorrow a disciplinary hearing over Superintendent Harry Harutunian's alleged improper relationship with a school employee. Harutunian — a Beverly assistant superintendent a decade ago — waived his right to be present at the meeting, committee Chairman Alfred Perry said. The committee is investigating claims that Harutunian has had a romantic relationship with a department secretary, and whether pay raises or other benefits she received are linked to that relationship."

Superintendent Harutunian should be immediately barred from returning to his job until this matter is resolved. Anyone else involved in the investigation (and especially certain high-paid administrative assistants) also should be closely monitored. Documents that no longer exist can't be used as evidence...

Joanne - Sex for superintendents only - Think school CEO's don't sometimes engage in "improper activities" with their employees? Read about Superintendent Jack Clemmons and his "e-mail trail of passion."

Psychology Today - Frisky Business - "Supervisor-subordinate dating is the most hazardous to an employee's reputation and career. These relationships, say researchers, evoke company censure, ill-will from fellow workers, and possible lawsuits." "The main issue is not sex, or even gender, but power and politics."

North Andover Citizen 11/11/05 - Letter: S.T.A.M.P. Save the Arts and Music Programs and Ormsby needs to go back to school - It's a familiar pattern. School officials intentionally cut art and music at the high school, stir up parents emotions and then look for "brave" voices in the community (they can use) to attack anyone who supports responsible school spending. Superintendent Harutunian has been using this strategy to manipulate school parents for years. YEARS.

Harry the "Builder" - He's already burdened the Town of Reading with a problem-ridden, poorly-designed, unnecessary new elementary school (while making Flansburgh Associates millions in the process).What's Harry building now? More importantly, who will benefit financially from the new construction project(s)? Remember folks, for some administrators school construction is all about the money - err.. the children!

Upcoming North Andover School Building Committee meetings:

Thursday August 11, 2005 - "The North Andover School Building Committee will meet on Thursday August 11, 2005 at the North Andover School Department located at 43 High Street begins at 6:30PM. Please contact the Office of the Superintendent with any special meeting accommodations."

Thursday, September 8, 2005
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Thursday, December 8, 2005

See listings for more details.

"Two North Andover Finance Committee Members to Quit" over members of the finance committee are "manufacturing" a crisis to bolster efforts for an upcoming override.Quitting often isn't an effective strategy for combatting the override "wolves." In fact, quitting positions of authority in public government is exactly what these override "manufacturers" probably want the opposition to do. When good, honest people get fed up with public government and quit leaving "wolves" still in power, the "wolves" can more easily replace the members who quit with more "wolves."

Official committee members have a greater ability to combat and expose corruption than private citizens. Stopping public officials who manufacture an override is a goal more easily accomplished from the inside. Don't make it easy for wolves to get what they want....

Eagle Tribune 03/24/05
Schools Back to Old-Style Math -
"Everyday Math was one of three curriculums under consideration to replace the district's often criticized TERC program, which relies on less memorization and has been used by the schools for about five years. But the committee in charge of selecting a new curriculum unanimously chose one of the others, a more traditional program offered by publishing company Houghton Mifflin."

Andover Townsman 03/10/05
Sizing up Math - "People are well-intentioned in developing new programs, but the cure is worse than the disease."

North Andover Citizen 02/25/05 - Huster calls for more communication - .pdf - "The committee sits on an elevated stage above the audience and snaps through agendas that often take less than an hour.  A veteran of past school committees, Huster remembers meetings that would last for hours with long debates on educational questions. 'There's no longer any conversation at the School Committee,' she said. 'There's no input, no presentations. Where's the give and take between the board and parents?'"No communication. No input. No debate. Predetermined outcomes. Seriously, North Andover, you need to deal with your Harutunian problem before it's too late.

North Andover Citizen 02/25/05 - Who can you trust? - .pdf - "Since North Andover has reportedly had more overrides than any other town in the state, it is perhaps useful to review what happened in the last override election."

Eagle Tribune 01/25/05 - Need for more schools doubted - "Dawe said he first became concerned about the building projects when he noticed the $32 million Atkinson School project in the five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which was presented to the Finance Committee last week. Though that project is years away, Dawe said, its presence in the plan could be unnerving to residents of North Andover, who recently saw the completion of a $58.5 million high school and will soon decide on whether to authorize a Proposition 21/2 override to pay for a new $7 million police station."

"That's going to be a hard sell to the town."

Not for Superintendent Harutunian. He knows how to organize and manipulate parents and how to use fear and insecurity to build community support for school spending projects. He's had plenty of practice.In Reading, Superintendent Harutunian and his special interest friends repeatedly misrepresented school enrollment projection data to justify the construction of an unnecssary new elementary school and the costly renovations (in reality, new construction) of Reading's high school and Barrows elementary school.

Eagle Tribune 01/12/05 - Harutunian seeks $4.1 million increase for schools - Same manipulative tactics, different location.

Eagle Tribune 01/11/05 - 'Budget Parents' to offer input on North Andover school finances - Learn from the mistakes of Reading's own budget parents. "It's good to have a little help" from an army of clueless, trusting parents.

Eagle Tribune 09/05/04 - School chief lends Realtors a hand - In Reading, Harutunian allied himself with popular realtors (most notably Bobbie Botticelli of Colonial Manor Realty). Realtors are very useful to a superintendent / politician. Well-known, trusted members of a community, Realtors possess information educators can use to identify the most impressionable and vulnerable members of a community; who's new to town (and, therefore, often naieve and impressionable), who has young school-age children etc.

In Reading, the support of realtors was a powerful political asset for Harutunian. At times, Reading realtors even functioned as a direct extension of the school department, spreading propaganda and administration-generated misinformation. Realtors frequently involved themselves and their popular businesses in organized, mass-mailing campaigns to support overrides. Realtors helped school officials mislead the public into believing that if costly overrides and school renovations were not approved, property values would decline and homeowners would move away from Reading.

All of the costly overrides passed and, as a direct result, taxes in Reading have skyrocketed! People are moving away from Reading now but for a different reason; they can no longer afford to (or want to) live in such a foolish, wasteful community.

Eagle Tribune 05/30/04 - Schools poised for change - "District faces principal exodus." "Counting the planned shift of principals among the other schools, six of the district's eight buildings are poised for a change in leadership.

Only the heads of the Franklin and high schools will remain the same.'It's a huge change because they represent so much knowledge and experience of our community,' said Leanna M. Pristash, the high school Parent Advisory Council president who has seen two daughters go through the school system. 'The tone of a school really is set from a principal and how they run their building. They're the ones that bring the community together.'

Existing relationships between teachers, administrators and the community threaten the top administrator's power and authority. "Change" presents Superintendent Harutunian with the opportunity to establish new, more favorable hierarchies of control.

He did it in Reading. He's doing it again in North Andover. Demand answers and accountability from Superintendent Harutunian.

North Andover Citizen 05/28/04 - Warning shots - "The town doesn't need another bloody rift between school and town advocates.""North Andover is hardly in danger of losing its accreditation, and it would be wrong to use that threat as a means of scaring families and pushing agendas."

North Andover Citizen 05/28/04 - NAHS put on warning - "I find it to be an outrage that we are on warning status," said Al Perry. "The people of North Andover have gone above and beyond the call of duty with this beautiful new building."

Buildings don't teach children... How many of the reasons for the warning have anything to do with the school building?

"Former School Committee Chairwoman Diane Huster, who served when North Andover received two earlier warnings on accreditation in 1992 and 1997, said that the four new teachers slated to be hired for next September do not compensate for all the staff lost over the past couple years, particularly in light of increasing enrollment.""I am so disappointed that during the budget hearings this spring no one remembers the budget cuts from last year," she said.

Eagle Tribune 05/27/04 - Committee faults basis of warning - "...the last few pages outline hardships brought on by a lack of funding and increased enrollment. The report also mentions the loss of five full-time teaching positions in art, history, music, foreign language and industrial arts."

"Things have changed since the report was written, but that report was accurate," Nicholson said.

While the NEASC is often used to manipulate the public and promote the agendas of school administrators, is it possible that the conerns outlined in Susan Nicholson's report are actually valid? Is this incident an example of an administrator using the NEASC as a tool to actually bring attention to valid school issues that need to be addressed by top administrators? Unlike Reading (where the Harutunian administration inflated enrollment projection statistics), North Andover actually does have a growing enrollment problem.... and why wouldn't officials want to address the loss of art, history, music and language teaching staff? What was Nicholson's mistake? Did she bring to the NEASC's attention problems top school officials and administrators do not want the (NEASC and the) general public to know about? Is Nicholson's report so controversial because it contradicts the "positive perception" of the school that North Andover school officials are currently promoting?"

PTO President Leanna M. Pristash agreed with Nicholson, adding that the problems facing North Andover High School have existed for years, and have remained unsolved."

Well, don't expect the Harutunian administration to solve them. North Andover High is a brand new building. Architects and contractors aren't eager to tear down and rebuild the school. Until more schools are found to neglect, tear down and "renovate," Harutunian can't use the same "threat of accreditation" scare tactics in North Andover that he used in Reading. Perhaps this particular accreditation warning was never meant to be used as a "scare tactic" at all. Could Nicholson have simply written her report with the intention of bringing valid school issues to the attention of the NEASC (and, therefore, the public)?

Did Nicholson submit the report to the NEASC without Harutunian's knowledge and approval? Would Harutunian, if he had known the substance of Nicholson's report, have removed the controversial information contained in the "last few pages"?

Eagle Tribune 05/26/04 - Accreditation in jeopardy - "The concerns center on the 'myriad effects of the school's loss of budgetary support in the last two budget cycles,' wrote Pamela Gray-Bennett, director of the association's Commission on Public Secondary Schools." NEASC reports are often used by school administrators to frighten and manipulate the public.

Again... NEASC members engage in a self-evaluation process. The NEASC reports what school administrators submit to the NEASC. What this latest NEASC report really means is that the North Andover school administrators responsible for the report want more "budgetary support" from the community.

North Andover Citizen 04/30/04 - A single Super Stand on Free Speech [.pdf, 17.7 KB] does not erase years of manipulation, deception and wrongdoing.

Superintendent Harutunian dealt a killing blow to free speech, administrative accountability and open government in Reading, Massachusetts. He identified / created weaknesses in the system, exploited them and, in doing so, became a model for others to do the same. Reading became a "close-minded community, frightened of discussion and ideas" in which predetermined outcomes replace true community discussion.

Instead of "building bridges among groups in town," Harutunian divided school parents from citizens and played the interests of both groups against each other... so that all could be more easily controlled. Is that what a "genuine community leader" does?

"Things are seldom what they seem
Skim milk masquerades as cream,
High-lows pass as patent leathers;
Jackdaws strut in peacock's feathers.
Very true, so they do.
Black sheep dwell in every fold,
All that glitters is not gold;
Storks turn out to be but logs,
Bulls are but inflated frogs."

-W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

Eagle Tribune 03/27/04 - Town loses third principal this year - Will North Andover soon be conducting an "extensive" search only to replace Mr. Reste with Reading Interim Parker Middle School Principal William Foye (see below, 03/04/04)? How long before this longtime associate of Superintendent Harutunian is imported to North Andover?

Is Mr. Lou Reste really "retiring," as some citizens have suggested, three years earlier than expected? Why was the announcement so surprising to parents and students? Was Mr. Reste, like so many teachers, non-profit orgranizations, school employees, nurses, maintenance directors and citizens, not interested in "playing ball" with Superintendent Harutunian? Harutunian claims "all three retirements have stemmed from the principals' personal life choices, not any quarrel with his administration."


North Andover Citizen 03/04/04 - What makes a perfect principal - "Ormsby suggested the search committee 'needs to put in an enormous effort to get the right candidates.'

School Superintendent Harry Harutunian agreed, saying, 'there is nothing more important that a superintendent does' than to find top administrators for the schools.'"

What Superintendent Harutunian says is often very different than what he does.

In Reading, Superintendent Harutunian ignored the findings of his own Principal search committee and appointed his colleague from Beverly, William Foye, as "interim" Principal of the Parker Middle School. The appointment of William Foye was one of Harutunian's last actions before leaving his job in Reading. After a "comprehensive search process" involving at least 40 applicants for the permanent position, was Foye really the most qualified candidate? Why did Harutunian (himself the former Beverly Assistant Superintendent of Schools) finally determine that the best course of action would be to disregard the findings of the search committee and hire newly unemployed Beverly High School Principal William Foye as "interim" Principal?

Will Harutunian soon offer William Foye a job in North Andover? Is Foye being "warehoused" in the Reading public school system?

For background on Foye and his untimely departure from the Beverly school system, see the article "Principal of Changing Tides."

03/04/04 - Power Grab Coming In North Andover? - Candidates are currently being interviewed for the Executive Director position at North Andover's new cable studio (located in North Andover High School). Apparently, Superintendent Harutunian has been "sitting in" on these interviews and involving himself in the selection process. Though not included in the job description, the Executive Director will supposedly answer directly to the President of the cable board of directors (which makes sense) and...... school Superintendent Harutunian!!! The Superintendent's direct involvment in the day-to-day operations of a public access station is NOT normal, even for a community with the access studio located in a public school.

Superintendent Harutunian is, as predicted (see 02/05/04), likely making a grab for control of the media in North Andover. To control the medium is to control the message. Try as he might, Harutunian could not completely control cable broadcasts during his reign in Reading. At times, he must have loathed the cable coverage of his meetings in Reading.Citizens of North Andover NEED to take action to preserve their free speech and access to public information.

Eagle Tribune 02/29/04 - Mom quits school committee - "In a fiery resignation letter, Darlene Rose Torosian labeled her fellow board members and School Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian 'politicians' who act concerned but don't take action.'I just feel no one's really being accountable,' Torosian said Friday. "For me to keep following that path, it's not ethical for me. I'm with a board and a superintendent who are all politicians. ... It's not about listening to kids. It's not about finding out what's working and what's not.'"

02/26/04 - Harutunian's former personal secretary imported to North Andover - Reportedly, former Reading Superintendent Harry Harutunian has imported his former personal secretary in Reading to North Andover. Who could do a better job of keeping his secrets in North Andover than the personal secretary who kept his secrets in Reading? Isn't this the same "secretary to superintendent" who was gifted a whopping 16.6% base salary increase in 2003 before Harutunian left Reading? At $46,019 base pay in Reading, how much is North Andover now paying for her services?Superintendent Harutunian takes care of his friends... as long as they're useful.

Eagle Tribune 02/05/04 - "I'm going to be in a better environment" and Eagle Tribune 02/06/04 - "That's a high school thing" - When a member of a town's own school committee is "fed up with an atmosphere she calls harsh and disrespectful to students" and is "yanking her daughter from the public schools," it's a pretty clear indicator that the schools have a serious problem. All the "spin" and "damage control" in the world can't hide the fact that someone on the inside, someone "in the know" in North Andover, is worried about what is currently going on in the schools and seeking other alternatives for her daughter. Best of luck..

North Andover Citizen 02/05/04 - High School hosts new cable studio - Cable TV coverage is both a blessing and a curse to some school administrators. Broadcasts provide exposure for school officials and are an excellent means of spreading (mis)information to the public. When it suits their purposes, school administrators are generally happy to have meetings recorded, broadcast and repeatedly viewed by home cable subscribers.

There are some public meetings, however, that school administrators would rather NOT have recorded and broadcast. Superintendent Harutunian was unable to control local cable access television in Reading. Although a policy of directing (and paying additional overtime to) school custodians to operate cameras which afforded him some measure of control over the taping of School Committee meetings, Reading's primary television studio (RCTV) was not located in Reading Memorial High School (where it could be tampered with by school administrators, officials and their supporters).

Operating relatively autonomously from school and Town authorities, RCTV broadcast, freely and without censorship, both meetings that officials want to be viewed by the general public (prepared School Committee presentations) and meetings some school officials do NOT want to reach the general public (virtually all public Reading Building Committee meetings, along with certain public information sessions and suspicious "called-at-the-last-minute-but-few-people-were-notified" School Committee meetings, frequently held in odd, less than ideal broadcast locations).

The recording of public meetings provides citizens with a means of holding administrators and school officials accountable for their words and actions. If a meeting is recorded, it becomes harder (though not impossible) for an official to lie to the public or dispute / deny what they said (or did not say) at a later date. It also becomes more difficult for corrupt or bogus committees to "re-create history" when it is time to write and approve their minutes. Meeting minutes for some public committees in Reading are notoriously inaccurate and, at times, deliberately "adjusted" by officials to conceal past events and decisions. Only video / audio recordings reveal what actually happened at some public meetings.

Most of the .mp3 audio clips hosted at originate from VHS recordings of public meeting broadcasts. Public access stations will often record and broadcast (and re-broadcast) scheduled public meetings (School Committee, Town Meeting, Selectmen meetings etc.).

In Reading, volunteers are generally responsible for borrowing cameras to record other, less-publicized public meetings. Considering Superintendent Harutunian's past actions in Reading, citizens of North Andover would be wise to take an active role in their new local cable station.

Learn how to use the cameras, demand access to equipment and the ability to record meetings and the public statements of school and Town officials.If, in the near future, North Andover school officials try to obstruct access to cameras or restrict and control access to the studio, aggressively protest (contact local newspapers and file complaints with the Essex County District Attorney's office). Cable broadcasts (and the recording of public meetings) caused a lot of trouble for Superintendent Harutunian in Reading and it would surprise informed residents if he did NOT attempt to somehow influence, restrict and / or control the operation of North Andover's new, high school hosted cable studio.

Lawrence Eagle Tribune 02/01/04 - Leaders Push For Merit Pay - During Harry Harutunian's last year as Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools, the issue of the granting of "merit pay" and bonuses to school employees was a major source of controversy in Reading. Of course, Superintendent Harutunian might not actually call what he gave employees in Reading "merit pay." Officially, the raises / bonuses were called anything but "merit pay." To informed observers, however, "merit pay" is exactly what the substantial administrative salary increases and bonuses were.

"Superintendent Harry K. Harutunian said he knows of no other district in the state with performance-based pay."What about Reading, Massachusetts? In 2002, Harutunian appears to have recieved "merit pay" totalling $5,000 while other top administrators also recieved "merit pay," see Reading Selectman Camille Anthony's letter [.pdf, 350 KB]. In addition to the Harutunian administration's unofficial practice of granting merit pay / vacation-buyback / bonuses / salary increases / whatever-you-want-to-call-it to loyal school employees in Reading (is this practice continuing under the Schettini administration?),

Superintendent Harutunian's own 2002 - 2003 contract with the Reading Public Schools allowed the school committee to "give the Superintendent for 2002 - 2003 a merit payment of up to $7500..."This $7,500 "merit payment" bonus for Superintendent Harutunian, apparently approved by School Committee in Executive Session sometime in February, 2003, was paid in his last check in June 2003.

Harutunian's final payout was the maximum allowed in the superintendent's 2002 - 2003 contract, "subject to continued good performance as judged by the School Committee." Interestingly, the Reading School Committee did NOT actually conduct a public performance review of Superintendent Harutunian in 2003 and the executive session minutes / record of this action still have not been released (as of November, 2004).

Now Superintendent Harutunian wants to officially give "merit pay" to employees in North Andover, starting with the teachers (who deserve it the most)?

How long will it take, however, before certain teachers are getting more "merit pay" than others? How long before only those teachers and administrators willing to "play ball" are being rewarded? How long before the issue of merit pay divides the employee population into two camps.. those who are, for some reason, deserving of merit pay and those who are not? Who decides who gets what and how much? These are questions Reading citizens debating the issue of "merit pay" were forced to consider only a few years ago...

These days, Superintendent Harutunian appears to be trying to convince people in North Andover that he is concerned about teachers. Informed residents (and teachers) simply do not believe him anymore. Why didn't Superintendent Harutunian give "merit pay" to Reading teachers when he had the chance? Why did he give "merit pay" in Reading exclusively to (top) school administrators?It's hard to think of a more divisive issue than salaries and "merit pay," especially when school salaries are public information and everyone knows how much everyone else is being paid.

Consequently, is there really any better way to divide and conquer the employee population of a school system than to use the issue of "merit pay" to play the interests of teachers and administrators against each other? The practice of granting "merit pay" can easily be abused. In such situations, the "ultimate winners" are rarely "the children."

If merit pay is to be distributed fairly and effectively in North Andover, there absolutely MUST be, as School Committee member Charles Ormbsy suggests, a "detailed, rigorous system for evaluating teacher performance." Anything less than that is unacceptable. Bonuses may be an effective means of motivating employees to perform in private industry but, to some school administrators, "merit pay" is less a means of motivating employees and more of a means to establish and maintain control of employees. In public schools, operated with taxpayer money, there are legitimate reasons why giving "merit pay" might be considered an unfair and unwise practice. Proceed with caution!

"In theory, it's a great idea," but " practice, it's pretty dicey." For more details on the vacation buy back / school employee "merit pay" controversy in Reading, see the salaries section of this website and...11/14/02 - The Town Manager Speaks, School Committee Members Griset, Dahl Respond [.mp3 audio, 1.99 MB]11/14/02 - Selectmen Gail Woods Speaks, Willam Griset, Chairman of the Reading School Committee Responds [.mp3 audio, 3.16 MB] - Selectmen Woods: "Bonus money? They don't have bonuses in government... When they do that they make the teachers' jobs harder."School Administrators: Vacation Buy Backs / Bonuses: Town Meeting Article (Town Manager Hechenbleikner / School Superintendent Harutunian Memo, 02/26/03).

North Andover Citizen, 10/02/03 - Letter: Salary Raises Justified - Former North Andover Superintendent Dr. William Allen: "Superintendent Designate Harutunian and I had several transition meetings over the course of the spring to discuss the full range of issues associated with a 'change of command.' During two of those meetings, one in late May, the second in June, which was followed by a subsequent telephone conversation,
we specifically discussed the salary of the high school principal. Part of the discussion centered on the fact that the high school principal's salary was the lowest in the area. Dr. Harutunian also discussed his view of the matter with the principal during two meetings he had with her in the same May / June time frame.

The substance of these latter two meetings' was shared with me separately by both Dr. Harutunian and Mrs. Nicholson."North Andover Superintendent of Schools, Harry Harutunian, in an earlier 09/18/03 statement: "at no time was my permission sought about raises, nor were any numbers discussed. Nor would it have been appropriate, because, at the time, I was not the superintendent of schools."

"Permission" may or may not have been sought but, from Dr. Allen's repeated statements, it sure sounds like "Superintendent Designate Harutunian" was involved with and aware of at least one recent controversial administrative salary decision in North Andover.

North Andover Citizen, 09/18/03 - Allen Says Raises Were Warranted - Departing North Andover Superintendent Allen claims that "raises were among the topics discussed during conversations with then incoming superintendent, Dr. Harry Harutunian, on at least "two, possibly three occasions." Harutunian claims that "during the conversations with Allen before the changing of the guard, the two administrators 'went all over the place' and covered numerous issues, but 'at no time was my permission sought about raises, nor were any numbers discussed." Consider former Reading School Superintendent Harutunian's record of handing out huge raises and "merit pay" to school administrators and trusted employees. Who are you likely to believe? Who stands to gain from this situation?

Giving out raises is a way a new school administrator can quickly gain the favor of (and thereby begin to control) employees. Increasing the salaries of administrators also creates an attractive situation for future administrators (friendly to the Superintendent) to be imported from other school systems. Across the state, school administrators, regardless of (in)experience, rarely are hired for less money than their predecessors.

By increasing principal and specialist salaries, the top administrator also sets the stage for increases in salary, bonuses and "merit pay" for himself.

North Andover Citizen, 09/18/03 - Administrative Increase FY 2004 - North Andover is looking more and more like Reading every day. Expect top school administrator salaries in North Andover to continue rising and rising and rising.

Lawrence Eagle Tribune, 09/03/03 - Late Raises Outrage Parents in North Andover - "Harutunian said the five top administrator's salaries remain below average for this region even after the hikes, but the same is true of all administrators in the North Andover schools." What is the average salary for a school administrator in this region? As compared to what communities? Former North Andover Superintendent Allen's salary was only $107,000 base. Is Superintendent Harutunian's own $145,000 base salary below average??? Was his previous salary in Reading below average?

Specifics, please.

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.

North Andover Citizen, 05/08/03 - Change is in the air for schools. In reality, Harry Harutunian's salary in Reading was well over $118,000 per year. Including perks, raises, bonuses, travel reimbursement, vacation buyback etc., this figure rose to significantly more than $130,000 per year.

Harry Harutunian's 02/06/03 North Andover Superintendent Job Interview [.mp3 audio, 14.7 MB download]Consultant Lyle Kirtman of Future Management Systems, hired by North Andover to locate a new superintendent (Harutunian), is the same consultant the Reading School Committee hired to oversee the Reading Superintendent Search Process to replace Harry Harutunian.

Lyle Kirtman is also the consultant employed by the 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).

North Andover Citizen, 02/13/03, Big Challenges for New Super - Information about Harry and his future plans in North Andover.

Do you want to keep North Andover school crime, violence and drug-arrest incidents secret?

Report teachers who refuse to "play ball" with Superintendent Harutunian's curriculum decisions, practices and polices?

Would you like to earn brownie-points with Superintendent Harutunian by informing him of teachers, parents, children and citizens who threaten his power and question his authority? It worked in Reading! Call Dr. Harutunian's private "squeal line" toll-free at 1-800-441-2944 and "leave an anonymous message in a voice mailbox only Harutunian can access."