Tentative agreement reached for Mohawk Trail supt. to leave position

  • Superintendent Michael Buoniconti attends a special meeting of the Mohawk Trail Regional School District School Committee as an executive session is called Thursday night at the school in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The Mohawk Trail Regional School District School Committee holds a special meeting to call an executive session Thursday night at the school in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 1/16/2020 11:12:17 PM

BUCKLAND — The Mohawk Trail Regional School District School Committee and its superintendent have agreed to part ways, effective immediately.

After going into executive session with Superintendent Michael Buoniconti and someone who appeared to be his lawyer or consultant on Thursday, School Committee Chair Martha Thurber sent a district-wide email to all staff members saying, “The Mohawk Trail Regional School Committee and Michael Buoniconti have reached a tentative agreement that results in a mutual parting of the ways between Mohawk Trail Regional School District and Mr. Buoniconti. There is final work to be done. However, effective immediately, the district’s very able senior leadership team will manage the day-to-day functioning of the district.”

Thurber said Friday that Mohawk Trail Regional School District Director of Pupil Services Leann Loomis will head up the team as interim superintendent.

Earlier this week, Buoniconti sent an email to all staff members in the district admitting he was having an affair with a subordinate and that he and his wife are going through a divorce. Shortly after, parents and residents asked the School Committee to take action and demanded Buoniconti’s resignation.

On Friday, Thurber offered more detail in an email to employees. She said as the district moves forward, she will share the School Committee’s plan for ensuring the needs of staff and students are met.

According to Thurber, Loomis holds a provisional superintendent’s certification, and has agreed to serve in the position until a longer-term interim superintendent can be selected. That will be followed by a broad-based search for a new superintendent, a process that will involve the School Committee, senior administrators, educators, students and community members.

“The School Committee is committed to serving on behalf of our students, staff and district families,” the email reads. “This is a fresh start for our district. There are many wonderful things going on in our schools, and we are optimistic for the future. We will continue to work hard to maintain high educational standards and quality experiences for our students and families. We will need everyone’s help in this effort.”

Though Buoniconti tried to assure everyone in his email that the affair would not affect his job performance, many were upset, and 500 people signed a petition that was delivered to the School Committee Thursday asking for his immediate resignation. The online petition on Change.org said signers were disgusted with his lack of integrity and recent “moral indiscretion.”

The School Committee posted the special meeting earlier in the week, shortly after Buoniconti made his announcement, and said it would go into executive session and would not reconvene in open session, which it did not. The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and Thurber sent the email announcing the parting of ways at 9:02.

It is not yet known what the conditions of Buoniconti’s leaving will be. He was receiving an annual salary of $159,761 (all-inclusive, “no further allowances for travel or other items,” according to Thurber) through June 30.

Buoniconti started as superintendent of the school district in 2005, and has been a major proponent for changing the state’s rural school aid formula so that those districts receive more financial help from the state. He started and heads up the Massachusetts Rural Schools Coalition, rural school superintendents from across the state working together to advocate for changes in Chapter 70 funding.

In 2016, Buoniconti was among three finalists for the superintendent position in North Attleboro Public Schools, but North Attleboro Assistant Superintendent Scott Holcomb was the candidate selected. It was the fifth time Buoniconti had been a superintendent finalist for another school district since he became Mohawk’s superintendent.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.

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