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Sharon schools reach $750,000 settlement with former superintendent who alleged racial discrimination

Former Sharon Superintendent Victoria Greer.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The Sharon School Committee is slated to meet in private Wednesday to discuss paying former superintendent Victoria Greer $750,000 to settle a racial discrimination complaint she filed with the state last year following her controversial ouster from the job.

The meeting follows an announcement last week that the School Committee, two of its former members, the town, and Greer had reached a “mutual resolution to settle the claims” that Greer made in a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, according to a joint statement the parties issued.

That resolution calls for the School Committee to pass a motion “to rescind and expunge the vote not to renew Dr. Greer’s contract and agree that the contract has been terminated by mutually agreed-upon terms, including a payment to Dr. Greer of $750,000,” the statement said.

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It’s not clear if that vote will happen Wednesday night. The town’s insurer would pick up the cost of the payment.

In reaching the resolution, the parties agreed that “this resolution does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any party.”

Greer, who is now serving as interim superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools, deferred comment to the joint statement.

In landing the job as Sharon superintendent in 2017, Greer made history as the first African-American to hold that position. She previously worked in Cambridge for four years as an assistant superintendent and spent most of her career as an educator in Tennessee.

Leading the small school system south of Boston appealed to her because the School Committee wanted to lift up the most vulnerable students, Greer told the Globe for a previous story. But a year after taking the job, the composition of the School Committee changed with the election of two new members, and by the time the School Committee voted not to renew her contract in summer 2020, only two members who hired her remained on the seven-member board.

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The relationship between Greer and the School Committee had become tense. She said two members refused to look at her and shouted at her, and made disparaging comments about Black students, she previously told the Globe. School Committee members accused her of not communicating with them outside of meetings.

In May 2020, Greer complained to the School Committee chair and the town’s attorney that she was being overly scrutinized and discriminated against because of her opposition to racism.

“The retaliation from the School Committee was swift,” she said in a complaint she filed with the state. She added that School Committee members Heather Zelevinsky and Judy Crosby presented “extremely negative and highly subjective evaluations” of Greer. Zelevinsky and Crosby no longer serve on the board.

Committee members, in their legal response to Greer’s complaints, said they never retaliated against Greer and severed ties with her based on her job performance and language in the contract — not because of her race.

Members criticized her for taking a vacation in summer 2020 while the school system was negotiating with the teachers union about returning to work during the pandemic that fall and the union voted to strike, according to legal documents. Greer disputed those assertions, saying she was in constant contact with the School Committee and took part in the union talks while on vacation.

The School Committee sent Greer its nonrenewal notice, dated Aug. 27, 2020, shortly after the union decided to take action and then placed her on administrative leave on Sept. 14. Greer filed the MCAD complaint that month.

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But in Friday’s joint statement, the School Committee characterized Greer’s three-year tenure in a positive light, saying she “successfully led the Sharon Public Schools during one of the most difficult times in public education.

“Dr. Greer was successful with increasing the diversity amongst district leaders and other staff, she led the district in the approval of a $163m high school building project, and she increased and improved stakeholder engagement and relationships,” the statement said. “The School Committee and the Town of Sharon extend thanks to Dr. Greer for her many accomplishments as the superintendent.”


James Vaznis can be reached at james.vaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.