School chair demands allegiance; orders colleagues; my way or Highway

Calls for his resignation Follow

By Josh Resnek

An agitated, and visibly angry, School Chair Thomas Abruzzese ordered his colleagues in the school department and on the school committee to be with him or to resign in a stunning blaze of harsh and sometime incoherent comments and threats that ended the Monday night School Committee meeting at the high school.

This angry and aggressive outburst, apparently fueled by a personal matter and disputes growing out of Abruzzese’s heavy handed leadership of the superintendent search committee, brought calls for his immediate resignation from a slew of officials, administrators and school department employees, none of whom wished to be identified for fear of his retribution.

Several women employees of the school department said they were “scared” at Abruzzese’s outburst.

“Can you imagine sitting next to him,” said another, according to a source who attended the meeting. ”He acted like someone who is unstable. Shocking, really.”

A school department employee said at least one of his colleagues had filed a report expressing her fears following Abruzesse’s demand that “everyone choose a side.”

“Anyone who condones what happened to me last week should resign,” he said.

That comment perplexed nearly everyone present about what exactly Abruzzese was talking about.

He denounced the Leader Herald, referring to it not by name but “that rag.”

This was a likely response to the news report appearing in last week’s Leader Herald that his son, an Everett physical education teacher, had been arrested for a domestic violence incident two weeks ago and subsequently suspended from his position – but only after the Leader’s editor made such a suggestion in the editorial.

He had at first been transferred from the English School to the Parlin by school department officials apparently trying to satisfy Chairman Abruzesse.

At least 7 Abruzzeses or their relatives are employed by the School Department.

In his remarks at the end of the meeting, Abruzzese obsessed about “certain powerful peoples’ unhappiness.” He said he had personally been trashed and his family had been trashed and as of last week, a line had been crossed when someone tried to intimidate him and his grandson.

“I had no idea what he was talking about referring to a grandchild being brought into the public discussion about him. None of us could make any sense out of that,” said another source who attended the meeting. “I think he just made that up to deflect the news about his son.”

Upon further investigation, Abruzzese was apparently referring to taking his grandchild to school last week, and after dropping off the grandchild, having an intereaction with an employee of the school which allegedly turned ugly. That incident is now under review, according to a school department source who wished to remain unnamed. Abruzzese said it was “miserable and petty people holding grudges” who are against him.

He alleged those miserable and petty people were using “intimidation and coercion” against him.

However, his actions at the School Committee hearing Monday night have reverberated around the school department community, causing many to question his outburst and his fitness to serve as the School Department chair.

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