Broadside: Fire superintendent

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July 9, 2012, 7:16 pm
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(NECN) - The opening paragraph of the lead story in Sunday's Boston Globe read as follows:
Boston School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson took no disciplinary action after one of her headmasters was arrested and briefly jailed on a domestic assault charge.

But that is just the beginning of this sordid tale, unearthed by Globe reporters Andrea Estes and James Vaznis.

Rodney Peterson, the co-headmaster of the O'Bryant School of Math and Science in Roxbury, ultimately admitted sufficient facts for a guilty finding on the domestic violence described in the police report.

After learning of the assault, it appears Johnson did nothing: She didn't fire him, she didn't put him on administrative leave. All we know, according to the Globe, is that she said he could remain on his job unless the media found out.

Well, ultimately it did, when Peterson had been offered a job in Memphis, one that he withdrew from when the assault became known.

Days before, Peterson resigned his position at the O'Bryant school, but not before Johnson had written a glowing character reference for him, calling Peterson "among out most outstanding school leaders", signed his three-year employment contract, paying him $126,000 per year, and approved him for a superintendent training.

The police report says Peterson choked and punched his wife; a next door neighbor heard the victim scream "you're holding me against my will" and "you punched me in my stomach."

His wife, by the way,  had given birth to their child just weeks earlier.

After pushing her into the corner of the kitchen, he yelled, according to the police report, "This is the real n----- coming out now."

He punched the refrigerator so hard, he left indentations, the police report says.

Again, as the Globe wrote, Johnson had the story, but did nothing: didn't take any action against Peterson, didn't tell the city attorneys, didn't tell school officials in Memphis about the man who they had offered a job to. Did she even inquire as to whether he had been abusive to women in the Boston schools where he worked? Whether he had a history of domestic violence? Did she call Peterson's wife?

All we know is what she told the Globe:

"I think domestic violence is unacceptable and unfortunate where and whenever it occurs. I personally don't condone any type of violence," Johnson said.

You don't? Coulda fooled me.

When asked, the mayor said the following:

(Johnson) makes "thousands of decisions every week. In hindsight, things should have been done differently....When I heard about this, I said uh-uh. You've got to deal with it right away. I don't tolerate that stuff."

Today, his office confirmed that the mayor's position hasn't changed.

Here's mine: Carol Johnson's behavior is like Bernard Law Lite: cover up and then no attempt to protect others who might be victims of an abuser in her employ.

She should resign immediately. If not, she should be fired. Now. She clearly can't be trusted o protect the women or children in the schools on her watch.

Oh, one last thing: if Peterson seeks another job in the Boston schools, there might be one for him, with Johnson's spokesperson saying:

"The superintendent believes he has great potential as a school leader, so she wouldn't rule it out,"

Tags: Jim Braude, Boston Globe, Carol Johnson, Boston public schools
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