Thursday, June 12, 2008

Don't call concerned parents "Bitch" (at least not on video)

From the Eagle Tribune:

By Shawn Regan
Staff Writer

HAVERHILL — Parent Kathleen Victor left the May 28 School Committee meeting feeling insulted that school officials want to close her son's elementary school and they failed to fully answer her questions about the building's future.

But it wasn't until the next day when she began talking to people who watched the meeting on cable television that she realized she missed the worst insult of the night, she said.

A few seconds after Victor walked away from the podium following a heated exchange with School Committee President Kerry Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald looked in Victor's direction, shook her head slightly, squinted her eyes and clearly muttered the word "bitch."

"At first I didn't believe it when people started telling me what she said," said Victor, whose son is a second-grader at Crowell Elementary School. "I kind of shrugged it off at first. But every time I watch it, I get a little angrier."

A neighbor taped the meeting for Victor, who has watched it many times in recent days. She said several people have told her they saw it on television, including Haverhill teachers and other Crowell School parents.

"I don't want to hear any excuses or that she said something else," Victor said, adding that she has complained to Mayor James Fiorentini and other School Committee members about how she was treated by Fitzgerald. "It's clear by audio and visual what she did and said. She should publicly apologize not only to me but to the general public that was disgusted by her actions and words at the meeting."

Fitzgerald does not deny she used the word while running the meeting. But she denies it was directed at Victor.

"I was in the middle of trying to make a point and I was mad at myself for letting Joe (Bevilacqua) interrupt me," Fitzgerald said. "What came out was the end of 'son of a bitch.' I was thinking it in my head and it slipped out.

"I shouldn't have let it slip out. But it was aimed at myself and not the woman. I feel badly she thinks I called her that, but it wasn't directed at her. It was near the end of a long meeting. I was tired and emotionally drained."

Fitzgerald agrees with Victor that she owes the Haverhill community an apology for the remark. She also said she is willing to apologize to Victor, even though the crude epithet was not aimed at her.

"The bottom line is I said something inappropriate and I regret it," Fitzgerald said. "When I first heard the rumor that I said it, I didn't believe it. So I went to view the tape at the school office and when I saw it on the tape I cried. It's awful I did it. That isn't me."

Fitzgerald's remarks to Victor were precipitated by Victor suggesting Fitzgerald no longer cares what happens to young schoolchildren because her two children are in high school now. Fitzgerald's son graduates tonight.

"She was rude to me and my feelings were hurt by comments that I don't care about kids," Fitzgerald said.

At the end of the May 28 meeting, Fitzgerald said she gave Victor a piece of paper with her phone number on it, but that Victor never called her. Fitzgerald said she has also tried to contact Victor in recent days to offer her an apology, but that Victor refuses to speak with her.

"I tried to call her, but her phone is unlisted, and she would not allow ... the mayor to give me her number, so there was no way to resolve this," Fitzgerald said. "She hates me as do the other Crowell parents and are doing this to make me look bad. I am tired of getting blamed for Crowell. I don't even care if it closes. I wasn't the one who brought it up (closing the school)."

Fiorentini, who is the School Committee chairman, attended the May 28 school meeting. He did not run it as he usually does because he also was participating in a City Council meeting going on in the room next door at the same time. The mayor said he did not hear or notice Fitzgerald's controversial remark that night, but that he has heard a lot about it since.

"I didn't hear anyone swear at anyone, which would have been very inappropriate," Fiorentini said. "But I'm very concerned with the general demeanor and lack of civility at School Committee meetings."

At past meetings, Fitzgerald has accused the mayor of lying and acting like a "king" for making decisions that affect city schools on his own.

Fitzgerald also has feuded publicly and privately with other members of the committee, specifically Bevilacqua, Scott Wood Jr. and Shaun Toohey. Fitzgerald said she has recently "mended fences" with each of them, however.

Bevilacqua and Toohey backed Wood for School Committee president, but Wood lost his bid for the leadership position, 4-3. The mayor cast the deciding vote to give Fitzgerald the presidency. Fitzgerald was backed by Erin Francescone and Susan Danehy.

The mayor said he intends to meet individually with members of the committee in the coming days to discuss treating each other and the public better in the future.


Moderator - CJ said...

Sounds to me like an elected official should tone it down and grow up a bit -

I wonder what she calls people who don't vote for her? I assume they'll be quite a few joining those ranks in the next election.

Let's get people like this out of office as soon as possible.

Dave Mauro said...

Time for us to start sweeping these types out of out schools...

Anonymous said...

jj.. dmauro.. hit me with an email from your other address.

Anonymous said...

Kerry Fitzgerald is a women who has a great head on her shoulders and some times people say things they don't mean or they thought they said something in there head but accidentally slipped out...

All humans make mistakes they cant help it.

life's to short to criticize others, she made a mistake she regrets it shes a human what do you expect...

she's done great things for our school... even though sometimes it seems to be the wrong one but she thinks a head and see what closed doors can be opened and what open doors can be shut...

do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

Moderator - CJ said...

Kerry Fitgerald needs a lesson in humility my friend - her actions are unacceptable regardless of "what she has done"

- Stop drinking the incumbent kool-aid.

Anonymous said...

It was on video tape. That's why she gave a public apology. Kerry will not be voted in again. She's a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

I never voted for her, nor do I think she'll ever get in again. Many were outraged by what she did. I think this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Anonymous said...

I Kerry Fitzgerald needs to take a look at her own house and clean that up first. She seems to be an angry women who has an agenda other then the education of the children of Haverhill and the future of the school system. One has to wonder what her motives are...