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Chicopee superintendent worked her way up to the school system’s top job

Chicopee School Superintendent Lynn Clark worked her way up from substitute teaching. Now she's facing charges that she lied to the FBI.Don Treeger/The Republican/file

Chicopee School Superintendent Lynn Clark, who is facing charges of lying to the FBI, worked her way up from substitute teacher to the school system’s top job, according to published reports.

Clark, 51, grew up in Chicopee and earned her bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University and a master’s degree from Elms College in Chicopee, The Republican of Springfield reported.

After working as a substitute teacher in Chicopee, she was hired full-time. In 2001, she rose to become principal of Anna Barry School. She subsequently served stints as principal at Fairview Middle School, and General John J. Stefanik School. In 2015, she became an assistant superintendent.

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In 2019, she was approved by the School Committee as the new superintendent, effective February 2020, the Republican reported. She took over the school system at a difficult time - just as the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“She was doing a great job,” School Committee member Donald Lamothe told the Globe Wednesday, noting that Clark was highly recommended for the superintendent’s job after serving as the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and assessment and as a principal. “Every school she went to, the MCAS scores went up. So it was a natural fit for her to take the [superintendent] job.”

Lamothe said Clark’s arrest “surprised the heck out of me.”

In an evaluation of her work during the 2020-2021 school year posted on the Chicopee Schools website, Lamothe said, “All things considered, the job Ms. Clark has done in her first year, has been outstanding.”

Other board members were also positive, including one who said the city was “lucky beyond their wildest dreams” to have her. One member, David Barsalou, called her performance “unsatisfactory” and lodged a number of criticisms. He told The Republican Wednesday that he had clashed with Clark, partly due to the demotion of one of the city’s principals and the resignation of many other teachers.

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Mayor John Vieau, who is also chair of the School Committee, said Wednesday in a statement that Clark’s arrest was “disheartening for the City of Chicopee.” He said officials were “working to ensure that School Department operations continue smoothly through this transition as the education of children remains paramount.”

Clark faces allegations that she lied to FBI agents who were investigating a series of threatening text messages sent to a Chicopee police officer who was vying to become chief of police. She denied sending the messages initially, but allegedly eventually admitted that she had sent them, telling investigators that the officer “had achieved many accomplishments based on [her] work” and she wanted to see him “knocked down a peg.” Investigators have not said how she knew the officer.

Clark was placed on paid leave effective immediately following an 8-3 vote by the School Committee Wednesday night.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.