Published in the December 14, 2016 edition


LYNNFIELD — In a surprising turn of events last week, Summer Street School Principal Jen DiBiase resigned and two METCO program staff members were fired by the school system.

Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay informed the Villager DiBiase submitted her resignation on Friday, Dec. 9.

“I accepted Jen’s resignation as principal of Summer Street School,” said Tremblay. “She is pursuing another educational opportunity and I wish her well.”

In addition to DiBiase resigning, Tremblay said METCO Director Lelo Masamba and METCO bus monitor Wanda Hines “are no longer employees of Lynnfield Public Schools.”

While not discussing specifics because of state and federal confidentiality laws, Tremblay acknowledged the school department no longer employs Masamba and Hines due to an incident that occurred on a METCO bus on Nov. 17.

“Every decision that is made in our district always comes back to our students and their well-being,” said Tremblay.

Police Chief David Breen released a statement to the Villager about the incident.

“The Lynnfield Police Department and the Office of the Essex County District Attorney have reviewed the incident that occurred on a Lynnfield school bus on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016,” said Breen. “There will be no criminal charges as a result of that review.”

Additionally, Department of Children and Families (DCF) spokeswoman Andrea Grossman informed the Villager in an email that “the Department of Children and Families received a report and we are investigating.”

Masamba, who served as METCO’s director for 16 years, discussed the situation in an interview with NECN last week.

“I love our kids,” Masamba told NECN. “The parents are very supportive. They’re very confused as well. There is something apparently not right about the way it was handled. There was an assistant principal involved in the investigation. There were many of us that were involved, so why did they only single both of us out?”

In an interview with NECN, Hines commented, “I am not trying to be on the news about something that I don’t feel like was handled right.”

DiBiase, who worked for the school system for 18 years, succeeded Tremblay as Summer Street’s principal in July 2014 after the School Committee appointed Tremblay superintendent. Before becoming principal, DiBiase was a special education teacher at Summer Street. She was the special education team chairwoman from 2008–2010, where she worked under the special services director. DiBiase worked as a special education teacher at the Huckleberry Hill School from 1998–2008.

Local parent Cynthia Fallon called DiBiase’s resignation a complete surprise during an interview with NECN.

“(DiBiase) was a lovely person,” said Fallon. “I don’t know anything about the facts but the principal at Summer Street School is a great principal. I think the world of her.”

Tremblay said both she and Teaching and Learning Director Kevin Cyr “will have a strong presence at Summer Street School” for the next few weeks. She said, “any issues that would go to a building principal will go to me.”

“That is the plan until the December break,” Tremblay added. “I am hoping to have an interim principal in place when we return from winter break and the interim principal would be here from January through June. I have the utmost confidence in the staff and they will continue to do the great work that they have always done during this period of transition.”

Tremblay said Special Services Director Kara Mauro will serve as interim METCO director for the rest of the year. She said the job will be posted soon.

“We are working closely with METCO, Inc. in order to move forward in the best interest for our students with a Boston address,” said Tremblay.