Additional Threats and Unlawful Acts
Threats to Parents and Students
Numerous parents and students have expressed fear of retaliation for objecting to anti-Israel material in School Committee meetings and public comment sessions. NPS administrators have told concerned parents that objecting to anti-Israel material would have a "negative effect" on their child's high school experience and that that they should "find another school for their children".
NPS administrators not only threatened retaliation, they actually retaliated against a parent and student who objected to anti-Israel material. The fact of the retaliation - as well as the fact that not a single person was sanctioned for it, even though state and federal authorities found that Superintendent David Fleishman and School Committee Chair Matthew Hills acted illegally - has prevented parents from speaking about their concerns or joining groups dedicated to removing the material. No one wants their child, or themselves, to be the subject of false, defamatory statements or have their confidential information printed in newspapers and on the internet.
False and Deceptive Statements
There is a consistent pattern of Superintendent Fleishman, other NPS administrators, and School Committee members making false and deceptive statements about the history curriculum. These false statements have been published as "fact" in newspapers and internet media including the Boston Globe, Newton Tab, and blogs. For example, Superintendent Fleishman claimed in a School Committee meeting on June 6, 2012 that "only four pages" of the Arab World Studies Notebook were used in high school history classes; in fact, at least seven chapters were used. On the same date, Fleishman and School Committee Chair Claire Sokoloff told the Newton Tab that the Notebook was removed from the curriculum and that is was "time to move on" from the issue. In fact, only one chapter had been removed; six other chapters were still in use. This was not a mistake on Fleishman's or Sokoloff's part - he, School Committee members, other administrators, and Newton teachers were fully informed about the chapters used by students.
Fleishman also stated to media sources, including the Tab, that anti-Israel advocate Paul Berans spoke with only a few NPS teachers for an hour or less and that "he was not paid by us". The correct facts are that Berans spoke with the entire NPS history faculty in a two-day workshop in January 2011, and almost certainly paid for the privilege.
Other false claims by Fleishman and other NPS administrators were that 'no parent had ever complained about the history curriculum', that 9th grade students could not have used an anti-Israel text because they "studied from primary sources", and that no part of the Notebook was used after July 2012 (a class syllabus indicates that the Notebook was used as late as 2013).
Unlawfully Withholding Documents
Email from School Committee Chair Matthew Hills shows that the NPS deliberately withheld documents from public record requests. In the email (below), Hills states that he decided the material should be withheld because he doesn't think the concerns of Newton residents that prompted the request are important. Other officials, including Superintendent Fleishman and then-School Committee Chair Claire Sokoloff, apparently agree.
Violating Massachusetts Open Meeting Law
In December 2014, the Massachusetts Attorney General found that the NPS and School Committee Chair Matt Hills had violated Massachusetts Open Meeting law ten times within a three-week period in July of that year. The violations were apparently committed in an attempt to prevent residents from discovering plagiarism by Superintendent David Fleishman in a commencement address at Newton South High School.
On three separate occasions, Hills failed to give proper notice of an anticipated School Committee meeting. In one case, notice was 'published' - i.e. told to the public - only a couple of hours before the meeting took place. Of course, it is impossible for members of the public to attend a meeting they do not know about.
One of the School Committee meetings was designated by Hills as a co-called "emergency" meeting. The letter written by the Attorney General to the NPS pointed out that the discovery by the public that Superintendent Fleishman had committed plagiarism is by no means an "emergency".
The Attorney General also found that the NPS and Hills misstated (i.e. lied) about the purpose of meetings about the plagiarism. At least two meetings were described as a discussion of collective bargaining issues. Meetings of this nature are private and the public is not invited to attend.
Finally, the Attorney General found that the minutes of these meetings were insufficiently detailed (actually, they were deceptive). In response, the NPS and Hills were forced to amend the minutes of the meetings from a very brief paragraph to over a page in length.
In 2014, NPS Superintendent David Fleishman ("Fleishman") admitted plagiarizing a speech by Governor Deval Patrick to use in a commencement address at Newton South High School. He was fined $5,000 which represented two weeks pay.
In another plagiarism incident in a nearby town, the superintendent resigned.