A Massachusetts middle school principal was suspended for 10 days because she sent an eMail message to her staff urging them to vote for a political candidate. Mary A. Toomey, principal of the South Lawrence East School, might also have violated state ethics laws.
“As a result of the investigation, I determined that Mary Toomey exercised poor judgment,” said Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent Mae E. Gaskins.
Toomey eMailed the school’s staff soliciting their votes for Nancy J. Kennedy, who was running a sticker campaign for school committee. She sent the eMail the day before the Oct. 5 primary election.
The eMail said Kennedy needed voters to place stickers printed with her name directly on the ballot. The stickers would be available at the school’s front office, according to the eMail message.
Kennedy received the votes she needed and went on to win a spot on the committee.
School committee spokeswoman Martha E. Previte said Toomey should have received a harsher punishment.
“It seems the punishment was lenient,” Previte said. “It’s hard to determine what’s more appropriate because something like this has never happened, I don’t think, in the history of our school [system].”
School Committeeman Ralph L. Carrero said he hopes Toomey’s suspension deters the city’s public employees from political activity.
Toomey told The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence she had no comment.
The school department has also reported the matter to the state Ethics Commission and the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. If Toomey is found to have violated state ethics law, she could be fined up to $500.