Blackstone Valley Tech Superintendent Intentionally Prevented AP Biology Teacher With ALS From Teaching Final 103 Days So He Couldn’t Collect Life Insurance, Retirement, And Health Insurance

Blackstone Valley Tech Superintendent Intentionally Prevented AP Biology Teacher With ALS From Teaching Final 103 Days So He Couldn’t Collect Life Insurance, Retirement, And Health Insurance

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Milford Patch Letter to the EditorOn Aug. 15, 2016, my father Dr. Philip LeMarbre was diagnosed with ALS. While facing this devastating diagnosis, he took sick leave from his teaching position at Blackstone Valley Tech, where he taught for nine years and 75 days. He was a loved and respected faculty member who taught AP Biology. In December, he was notified that he was 116 days short of retirement, and that as of Dec. 7 would run out of sick time and would not be eligible for his life insurance, retirement or health insurance.

He petitioned the school committee for more sick time. The two BVT teachers voted yes, but the two school committee members voted no. The tie vote resulted in his petition being declined. The reason cited by the administration for voting “no” was “BVT had spent too much money on the science department that year.”

Today we received a letter that my father will be officially terminated from his position at the end of the school year for “failure to comply with the requests from the school.” The request from the school was a 45 page document that needed the signature of an occupational therapist. His occupational therapist would not sign it, as her job is to evaluate people, not programs, which the document was.

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My father e-mailed the principal, explaining the issue, and has yet to hear back. The superintendent has declined having face to face meetings with my father, to find a solution to get him to retirement. They did offer a payout of $20K, which does not even cover the cost of the increased health insurance. My dad declined and sought legal help.

It turns out, the administration at BVT has not broken the law – in fact, they have followed it to the letter. And therein is the problem. The teachers have no protection if the administration is allowed to cut off support to teachers based on a four-person vote, where the “majority” is two.

The lack of compassion the administration has for a staff member that is well loved by both the teachers and students is astonishing. Our goal with this letter is to bring attention to this “loophole” and try to change the way days in the sick bank work. No one else facing a terminal diagnosis should have this added stress thrown on them. We would like to specifically thank the teachers and students (both current and alumni) of BVT for the tremendous support they have shown our family. Through this difficult time, the support they have shown has made such a difference for my Dad.

Thank you, #PhilsArmy

A GoFundMe page has been set up.

Joelle LeMarbre

So this is obviously pretty one sided since the school department can’t comment. But the fact of the matter is that it’s completely avoidable on the part of the school district, and it’s just insanely bad press on their part. The dude wasn’t just some chump teacher. He taught AP. He was well respected with the kids. He was a valuable asset to the school. And then when he got sick the first thing the school district did was try to separate themselves from him while giving him the least amount of money possible.

The only thing that matters was that Dr. LeMarbre was feeling better in December and wanted to go back to teaching. But the district made him get a note from a neurologist and an occupational therapist to say he would be safe in front of kids, knowing that this would be impossible. And since this is not what neurologists or occupational therapists do, they couldn’t in good faith sign it. They never should’ve been asked in the first place, but had they done so this guy could’ve returned to his job, taught the final 103 days, and retired with his benefits. He didn’t want to receive the benefits out of sympathy or compassion. He wanted to earn them by teaching his final year of AP Biology. And the school would not let him.

I don’t need to know any more details than that. He could walk. He could talk. He wanted to do his job. He is immediately a million times better than my AP Biology teacher who literally did nothing except play his guitar and let kids walk all over him. He’s not teaching the slugrakes who he needs to be on his toes for. He’s teaching the best of the best who want to be there, and can attentively take notes during a lecture about mitosis from a guy who is sitting in a wheelchair. There’s absolutely ZERO reason the school couldn’t let the guy do his job except for the fact that they were trying to intentionally fuck him out of his own benefits.

And Superintendent Michael Fitzpatrick actually had the minerals to say this once the press started reporting on it:

“Unfortunate that they would communicate that to you in that fashion.”

Translation – it sucks that everyone’s gonna know what a chode I am now.

Because up until this point it was all ribbon cuttings, awards, and $200,000 a year salaries for Superintendent Fitzpatrick.

See? It’s fun getting awards from the governor. It’s fun doing the ice bucket challenge and pretending to care about ALS. It’s not so fun being exposed as the guy who tried to keep a teacher out of the classroom so he could intentionally bone him out of his benefits. Very unfortunate this became public.

Here’s how you can reach Michael Fitzpatrick to respectfully share your feelings with him:

508-529-7758  x3034




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30 Comment(s)
  • TankerKW1L
    June 10, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I went to BVT and had a math teacher mr. TRIBA who was a long time teacher and lost almost all of his vision and was still allowed to teach. I dont know how similar these are but I believe there might be similarities that could be looked into.

  • Ken
    June 6, 2017 at 11:05 am

    All of the personal sacrifices teachers make go largely unnoticed paying for supplies out of there own pocket working after hrs from home preparing projects and lesssons and becoming emotionally involved in students successes and failures in numbers that that most cant imagine.
    How many futures has this man secured the least he deserves is his own family’s security. Shame on this administration

  • A proud wife
    June 5, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    My husband was a teacher at BVT for 28 years. He was loved by his students. When he decided to retire, I had students begging me to make him change his mind.
    He was also treated terribly by Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick. When his first wife passed away from breast cancer, Dr. Fitzpatrick expected him back in school the day after her funeral. When my husband told him that he wasn’t ready, Dr. Fitzpatrick told him that he would not be paid even though he had 135 sick days saved on the books.
    Someone asked about the union. Well I can say first hand that the union did nothing to help my husband. No one dared go against Dr. Fitzpatrick or there would be consequences.
    In this discussion, people have asked where are the school committee members? Over the years, many of the school committee members were hand picked by Dr. Fitzpatrick. Because of this, he was able to get everything he wanted passed through the committee. Some of them even had spouses that were teachers at the school. Talk about a conflict of interest!
    I sincerely hope that all of this press helps Dr. LeMartre. What has been done to him & his family is unforgivable!!!

    • SB
      June 6, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      My dad taught there 29 years. He disliked the previous superintendent, but in comparison, that guy was great!

  • Lois Karhinen
    June 5, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Is this true? If it is, I think big media needs to be involved. Ellen or Good Morning America. Shame the Superintendent in public, otherwise he will make these actions acceptable.

  • KimberlyS
    June 5, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Where’s the union on this one? This seems like a situation in which they could be useful.

    • True Reality Speaks
      True Reality Speaks
      June 6, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      Unions are a corrupt scam. They force you to pay fees for the privilege of working, and then use the funds to spend it on themselves and to buy a Democrat or two. You think they actually want to spend it on a lawyer helping some lowly teacher without political connections?

  • Paula Delridge
    June 5, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    So what this letter says is that if I go work at BVT, I can retire after working 10 years and get a retirement check and lots of bennies? Did I read that correctly?

    WOW, I want that job. Nothing against the guy but to work only 10 years and get retirement is definitely taking advantage of taxpayers. Maybe after 30 or 35 years on the job but 10 years is nuts! The retirement regulations need to change.

    • LocalYokel
      June 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Teachers pay into the Mass Teachers Retirement System, you numbie. He worked the last ten at BVT. Clearly by the pic’s he didn’t begin teaching ten years ago at sixty. How does it feel to be a dunce.

    • lol whut
      June 6, 2017 at 8:38 am

      DUH, teachers are vested after 10 years and pay some heavy duty $$$ into that fund while they are working.

    • lolwhut
      June 6, 2017 at 8:38 am

      DUH, teachers are vested after 10 years and pay some heavy duty $$$ into that fund while they are working.

    • Steve
      June 6, 2017 at 11:04 am

      He had als, one of the worst diseases you can contact… He’s probably going to live for 2-3 more years. If that’s the trade off you want to make, then yes, that is what it is saying.

    • Allie
      June 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Paula,
      While he wouldn’t receive a full pension (like someone who has worked 30 years) he would receive SOME money in retirement, more importantly still be on good health insurance and entitled to his life insurance he has been paying through the school.

      I wouldn’t call this taking advantage of taxpayers as he has been paying into this all along.
      Just some food for thought 🙂

  • ALL Vocational superintendents are overpaid
    June 5, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    What are the names of the school committee members who voted against this?

  • Cass
    June 5, 2017 at 11:28 am

    200 grand a year, he should be terminated. Way overpaid.

  • Different unions?
    June 5, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Doctors write notes all the time determining whether or not people can work. Worcester had a handicapped gym teacher that refused to retire and he stayed on 15 years longer than he should have. That’s not ancient history either, he finally left a couple of years ago. I’m not saying that this is untrue but it’s hard to believe that this went down as described here.

    It just seems hard to believe that some teachers can milk years and and years of employment out of the system while others can’t even get a few more months of credit.

    • True Reality Speaks
      Maura Healey
      June 6, 2017 at 8:25 pm


  • JKM
    June 5, 2017 at 9:39 am

    He should be ashamed of himself. That’s heartless and disgusting … he obviously had the power to make some sort of exception but he chose not to. I hope he can sleep at night!

  • Lightning bug
    June 5, 2017 at 9:29 am

    BVT has been scrwing the taxpayers and cheating the public school students that are marginal by not accepting them for the past ten years. Time for the towns that pay for that school to tell them to shove it and not give them any more increases.

  • BlackandWhite
    June 5, 2017 at 8:43 am

    It’s ALL about money (never about what is best for the students).

  • Whatever
    June 5, 2017 at 8:38 am

    This makes me so angry. I have had teacher’s in my child’s life that have changed him for the better. Maybe not in the school mentioned, but still. I get it’s not “Facebook popular ” now to praise Teacher’s. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. Please, please, please, let this guy get the benefits he deserves

  • Team Turtle
    June 5, 2017 at 7:40 am

    What a piece of shit this superintendent is… I sincerely hope he’s never sick and loses his cushy $200K a year job… oh wait, he’s not a “lowly teacher” so that won’t happen. Hoping this gets cracked wide open and this Teacher gets what he deserves. ❤️

  • Beige Caulk
    June 5, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Sometimes you just can’t see the forest through the trees. Never mind just the superintendent, why don’t you expose the other two heartless committee members?

    When the superintendent won’t meet with you face to face, what are you supposed to do? “unfortunate”

    One can make an unpopular decision, but how about being a man and explaining why face to face.

    PS Charlie Baker is a weasel

    • Disgusted BVT Stakeholder
      June 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Chet Hanratty of Millbury; Mitchell Intinarelli of Hopedale; Denis Braun (Alternate) of Mendon. Per September 2015 School Committee Minutes. Last documented appointments via official minutes posted on the BVT archives. No other sick bank appointments since that time; perhaps they serve 2 or 3 years? No idea who actuallay was present, but two of these 3 would most likely be the ones.

  • Independent Thinker
    June 5, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Maybe he followed the law, but only a real prick would do something so mean and underhanded. Of course, this this gentleman had been an administrator instead of “just a teacher,” they would have worked something out by creating a new position where he can stay home and collect his salary.

    Hopefully a good lawyer can find some discrimination loophole in order to help this man. Does the school have a long-term disability program for it’s employees?

  • Sandra
    June 5, 2017 at 6:27 am

    My daughter graduated four days ago from BVT. Class of 2017. To say that Dr. LeMabre was an OUTSTANDING teacher is far too simple of a word to describe him. BVT was extremely fortunate to have him on board for as long as they did. I know first hand that many members of the faculty at this school are appalled and disheartened with the lack of compassion that was ultimately show to this caring man. Bless you Dr. LeMabre and Thank you!! I know that many parents, kids and members of this community are disgusted with this decision. Signed a proud parent of a BVT Alumni

  • Dan
    June 5, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Mean, cold, selfish and Karma is a bitch.

  • Long Arm of the Law
    June 4, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    What the fuck could this guy do to earn $200k a year? There’s a lot of people, police chiefs, fire chiefs, mayors, governors, that don’t earn that kind of money.

    If Fitzgerald had any balls he would do this… take the money out of his own pocket.

    Jury selection will begin immediately and we will determine whether he should be removed or not.

  • June 4, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    this is heinous

  • bird
    June 4, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    Why do vocational school superintendents in charge of one building make as much if not more than district superintendents in charge of 5 to 100 buildings? Does this make sense?

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