No action by attorney general on Amherst superintendent buyout


Staff Writer
Thursday, September 08, 2016

AMHERST — The state attorney general’s office will not act on a consumer complaint filed by an Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee member that sought to stop the payout of more than $309,238 to former Superintendent Maria Geryk.

In a written response dated Aug. 24 and received last week, the attorney general’s office referred Vira Douangmany Cage to the inspector general’s office, which is charged with preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse in government.

“The office of the inspector general is the agency with oversight of this matter. You may want to contact them for further assistance,” reads the unsigned letter from the office’s consumer advocacy and response division.

The letter also suggests that Douangmany Cage, who is one of five Amherst representatives on the committee, reach out to the small claims court advisory service and possibly pursue a civil small claims process.

Douangmany Cage, who with Shutesbury representative Stephen Sullivan and Pelham representative Trevor Baptiste voted against the financial settlement with Geryk, had asked “the government to inspect this payout using public funds, issue an emergency injunction against the payout and inspect the terms of the agreement before it is executed.”

Douangmany Cage said the attorney general’s response does not bring the matter to an end. “I’m exploring the options,” she added.

For now, Douangmany Cage said she is satisfied she tried her best to defend her constituents from the impacts of the financial settlement.

“I think I went to the public to exhaust all channels, means and efforts that might clarify to us, policy-wise, what we need to do,” Douangmany Cage said.

The settlement agreement calls for Geryk to receive $309,238, with $295,000 to be paid in the current fiscal year.

The current plan for covering this settlement does not involve instructional spending. Other sources for the payout include $100,000 in utility savings, school choice reserve funds, staffing contingencies and unfilled administrative positions.

Still, Douangmany Cage said there should be discussions about whether important matters like this need more checks and balances and whether there should be changes in how towns are represented on the regional committee and the Union 26 superintendency union.

She called on other elected officials to express concern about the settlement.

“I’m hoping it’s not just me that is interested in this,” Douangmany Cage said. “I’m hoping we get some on the Select Board to help with this, because it impacts our money.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.