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Superintendent McMahon’s lawyer discusses his client’s indefinite status, the Open Meeting Law Complaint against the School Committee and what he believes is their unfair treatment of her based-on gender


  (Editor’s Note: School is out for the summer and Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Erin McMahon has been on paid administrative leave for more than five months. The School Committee has said very little about the situation or the investigation into alleged misconduct involving McMahon, who is scheduled to complete her second year of a five-year contract on June 30. For this week’s column, we submitted several questions in email format to Hingham Attorney Michael J. Long, who represents McMahon. In June of 2021, the School Committee approved a five-year contract for McMahon, with a starting salary of $196,000. The superintendent stands to earn close to a million dollars over the life of the contract. It marked the first time in the history of Saugus Public Schools that the School Committee had approved a five-year contract for the leader of the town’s public education system. It was also the first time that the School Committee had hired a woman superintendent. Long answered the following questions submitted last week by Saugus Advocate Editor Mark E. Vogler.)


Dear Mr. Vogler,


I am responding to your questions about my client, Erin McMahon, Superintendent of the Saugus Public Schools. My answers are in the order of your questions, which have been restated.

  1) What is the latest status of the superintendent? Does she remain on paid leave since Jan. 19, 2023? Did she make any effort to return to work on June 5, or did she comply with the order to stay away from school grounds?

The School Committee continues to violate Superintendent McMahon’s contract. When faced with no real choice, the superintendent submitted to a voluntary, good faith administrative leave in January when she was told there may have been a complaint. She believed her contractual rights would be honored, that she would be told the specifics of the issues, and that any issue would be reviewed with her and resolved swiftly. The School Committee has failed to provide any specific complaints in writing, which is a violation of her contract, and have not even met with her to discuss their concerns.

The Committee never initiated its own investigation and deferred the matter to the Town Manager, who has no authority over the Superintendent’s employment or school department. On May 24, 2023, Superintendent McMahon announced to the Committee her intention to return to work on June 5th after more than five months of hearing nothing from the school committee. The Committee’s subsequent vote in an executive session, without notifying McMahon, or allowing her to attend with counsel, violated the Massachusetts Open Meeting law, General Laws Chapter 30A, Section 21.

  2) Did the superintendent meet in executive session with the School Committee on Jan. 19 prior to the School Committee announcing her paid leave?

Superintendent McMahon received a short letter on January 17, 2023, informing her she was the topic in the School Committee’s executive session on January 19, 2023. She was provided no details. The Committee still has not provided any. It is unclear who, if anyone, made a “complaint”. We requested the School Committee share details of the complaint on at least three occasions before filing for arbitration, which filing is required by her contract to be made no later than the 30th day after the violation.

  There was no reference to a discussion about or with the superintendent being on the agenda for the Jan. 19 meeting. On the surface, that would appear to be a potential violation of the Open Meeting Law. Any thoughts on that?

Yes, it was an Open Meeting Law violation.

  3) For the sake of clarification, are you saying that the vote by the School Committee to put the superintendent on paid administrative leave took place only after the superintendent indicated she would return to work on June 5?

I cannot speak to the actions of the School Committee, because the meeting was closed. The superintendent was notified of the imposed leave following the May 30th meeting. The reasons provided were the same as in January – vague and absent details. The Committee has never conducted an investigation or provided information in response to multiple requests for details.

Saugus has had four different superintendents in the last 10 years. Superintendent McMahon is the first female superintendent. We believe she has been subjected to this treatment as a result of her gender.

  4) Have you received copies of any of the minutes of the School Committee when the superintendent’s status was discussed, including the Jan. 19 meeting?

The Supervisor of Public Records has required the School Committee to provide information related to the Superintendent. Despite three appeals, the Committee has yet to comply with the orders of the Office of the Supervisor, including one directive to produce the documents directly to Supervisor for inspection. Saugus’ continued defiance of the Supervisor’s lawful order will result in more delay, increased legal expenses for the Town and a referral to the Attorney General’s office.

The Superintendent’s commitment to Saugus Public School students, educators and parents is unwavering. She cares deeply about this community and is committed to remaining the Saugus Public School Superintendent. She assembled an exceptional team that is deeply committed to building the solutions that work and serving our children–despite the political cross winds.


Michael J. Long


Long, DiPietro, and Gonzalez, LLP

175 Derby St., Unit 17

Hingham, MA 02043

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