Originally posted at 9:53 p.m.Last updated at 9:17 a.m. on Wednesday
FRAMINGHAM – Long-time Framingham School Committee member Beverly Hugo made a formal, public apology at Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting for her actions in regards to a controversy over a $100 check for a golf tournament that benefitted Framingham High School athletics.
After the apology, the Framingham School Committee voted 5-2 to not to hold a public hearing on December 12. The hearing would have decided if Hugo should be removed as an authorized warrant signer for the Framingham School Committee.
The issue was one of two on the agenda, that have nothing to do with education in the Framingham Public Schools.
Also on the agenda tonight, November 28, was a complaint by School Committee member Michelle Brosnahan against four of her fellow School Committee members.
Brosnahan, in her written open meeting law complaint, accused School Committee Chair Heather Connolly, Vice Chair Jim Kelly, and members Scott Wadland and Ricky Finlay of violating the state’s open meeting law during an October 16 School Committee meeting.
The School Committee voted to refer Brosnahan’s complaint to Connolly and the Committee’s attorney to draft a response by a December 6 deadline. Brosnahan has the option, if unhappy with the response, to appeal to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
“Although I am not apologizing for not signing the check, because I did have legitimate questions, I do apologize for any trouble, or hurt feelings that I inadvertingly caused with issues surrounding the warrant,” said Hugo in a statement at the School Committee meeting.
“I am apologizing for not aggressively taking exception to the mischaracterization for what I said, as soon as I realized that my comments were taken out of context, and that a very offensive word was substituted for my actual comment,” said Hugo.
“I am also apologizing directly to Mr. Jim Kelly for not diffusing this as soon as I learned the first time that the word fraud had been uttered by me,” said Hugo.
During the time, Hugo refused to sign a warrant for a $100 check, there were statements made that Hugo questioned the check because Kelly was running the golf tournament and he was also running for School Committee in District 1. Documents indicated that Hugo accused Kelly of “campaign fraud.”
Hugo was also running for the City of Framingham School Committee seat in District 1. And Hugo defeated Kelly for the seat on November 7.
“I am not a mean or uncaring person,” said Hugo. “And it troubles me that Mr. Kelly has been so offended.”
Hugo said “I do believe in learning from experiences.”
“Although their are wounds to heal, and tensions are still high,” said Hugo. “I believe the best gift we can give to our incoming School Committee members is to put this behind us, and give the new administration a fresh start.”
Hugo then said she wanted no longer wanted to request her need for a public hearing.
Kelly said the issue was never about the refusal to sign the $100 check but the “behavior towards central office staff,” that came along with the questioning of the warrant.
Kelly said he was looking for more of an apology from Hugo towards Central Office staff, and employees with Framingham High athletics, and until that was received he wanted the public hearing to be held on December 12.
School Committee member Ricky Finlay, who first question Hugo’s ability to sign warrants at the October 16 meeting, said he was “torn on this whole thing” and said it was time for the School Committee to “move on.”
“Miss Hugo made an effort to apologize,” said Finlay. “It is a step in the right direction. … It took a lot for her to come out in public and apologize.”
He said he has had his difference with Hugo, but it may be time to move on and not hold the hearing.
School Committee member Scott Wadland agreed.
He said he too was “quite torn,” like Finlay.
Wadland, who said he was friends with Kelly, said he was “very disappointment with what I would characterize as a half-hearted attempt for apologizing” to the allegation made against Mr Kelly, Mr. Spear, and others in central office.
But then he said he agreed with Finlay that “this Committee needs to move forward.”
Hugo, Finlay, and Wadland are the only 3 members of the current 7-member School Committee that will be a part of the new 9-member City of Framingham School Committee.
In the end, Connolly and Kelly voted for the hearing to take place on December 12. School Committee members Hugo, Brosnahan, Cheryl Gordon, Finlay and Wadland voted not to hold the hearing.
Before the discussion on either issue, School Committee member Gordon made a statement.
“Several people have asked why I didn’t speak out to support my colleague and friend, Bev Hugo, on October 16. The night of the meeting, I was not aware of, nor had I been part of any meetings that were being referred to. I was also not aware of the allegations being thrown around, most of which are not under the purview of the school committee. I had not seen or had access to the documents that were being referred to. Additionally, the mood and tone of the meeting was so disappointing that I was at a loss for words, literally,” said Gordon. “Since the date of that meeting and especially in the weeks leading up to the election, there was significant drama on Facebook with the issue being discussed and argued about at length. Many people have asked that I speak out about the situation. I chose to honor the open meeting law and not be involved in any kind of discussion in any forum and to instead make a statement during public session, which I’m doing now.”
Gordon said “I am speaking tonight to ask that this entire situation with respect to the warrant be dismissed completely and that we do not have a hearing. Bev Hugo was very helpful to me when I joined the committee, explaining how things worked and making me feel welcome. She is a true asset to the Framingham Public Schools. We have an opportunity here to have our last month together as the very last Town of Framingham School Committee be remembered for the good things we do for the students of Framingham.”
Source will update this report for the morning newsletter on Wednesday.