Time to wrap up the investigation of Bangor assistant superintendent

By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN
Posted Jan. 25, 2013, at 7:22 p.m.

Assistant Superintendent Robert Lucy has been on leave for four of the eight months he has worked for the Bangor school department and the fact that he has been paid $35,605 during those four months smarts just a bit.

On top of what the city has paid Lucy for not working, it has also paid Lewiston attorney Daniel Stockford $6,700 for 33.5 hours of work — $200 an hour — to conduct an investigation into whether Lucy “intimidated” his teachers to cheat on standardized testing in 2011 when he was the principal at Orono Middle School.

On Thursday and again Friday morning, Bangor Superintendent Betsy Webb had no idea when the four-month investigation might be finished.

Fortunately on Friday, when contacted at his office, Stockford said he thought he could have things wrapped up in about two weeks.

It certainly could be pure coincidence that the target end date emerged just a day after a BDN story that outlined the cost involved.

Either way, it is good news that the investigation is nearly completed and Lucy’s future with the Bangor School Department may get settled once and for all.

Let’s hope Stockford has been able to conduct a thorough investigation during all that time. The allegations against Lucy by two special education teachers and the testing coordinator for RSU 26 are serious, involving cheating and lying and intimidation of staff, and are not at all what the Bangor School Department needs in an assistant superintendent.

Specifically, the teachers allege that Lucy reviewed the students completed tests, which is against the rules, and that Lucy strongly suggested on different occasions that some of the children, five of whom were in the special education program, be allowed to “revisit” the test because Lucy wasn’t happy with the quality of their answers, which (again) is against the rules.

The school’s testing coordinator claims Lucy further told her he believed some students were absent during certain testing sessions and should be retested. After the tests were readministered, that coordinator realized those students had not been marked absent on the day of the original testing.

Lucy, the coordinator claimed, said the secretary “doesn’t always get it right,” and he assured her the students indeed were absent.

After a month-long investigation, the MDOE found incontrovertible evidence that some students revisited the test after the time permitted, and directed Lucy and some of his staff to be reeducated about the rules of standardized testing and invalidated the scores of some answers for four students and the entire test of the fifth.

I left a message with Lucy on Friday to ask him about all this. The call wasn’t returned.

Apparently, RSU 26 Superintendent Douglas Smith didn’t think it was too big a deal and didn’t bother to mention it to Webb when the two talked after Lucy was hired into the Bangor system.

Smith, who didn’t return a message I left him Friday, told a BDN reporter that he basically didn’t want to ruin Lucy’s ability to further his career and figured it wasn’t too serious, since other staff members were ordered to undergo additional training as well.

That’s swell.

It’s all distasteful, but what troubles me the most is the allegation by the test coordinator that Lucy told her that some of the students who had not, in his view, adequately completed sections of the test, were absent from school on the day the test was administered and that the secretary simply didn’t mark them as absent. He told the test coordinator to test them again.

How hard would it have been for Superintendent Smith to have looked into that one simple matter when it was first alleged? To have contacted the parents, to have had other staff members look at their calendars and to have tried to confirm whether those children were in school that day or not?

And if those students in question were in school that day, what indeed does that say to the character, the dignity and the trustworthiness of Bangor’s new assistant superintendent, who has responsibility over curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional evaluation?

Perhaps, in two more weeks and more than $42,000 later (it really does smart a bit) we’ll have an answer.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/25/living/time-to-wrap-up-the-lucy-investigation/ printed on December 18, 2014