The Milton School Committee voted Thursday to place Public Schools Superintendent James F. Jette on paid administrative leave after learning of his arrest in May on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge.
Jette, of Stoughton, was arraigned May 27 in Stoughton District Court on a sole count of assault and battery on a family or household member. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf and he was released on personal recognizance, legal filings show.
According to the legal filings, Jette allegedly shoved his partner against a wall and put his hand on her neck during an argument over a broken plant pot. Neither Jette nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment Thursday.
Thursday’s vote to put him on paid administrative leave was made “pending a follow-up meeting tentatively scheduled for later next week,” the School Committee said in a statement released by its chairwoman, Ada Rosmarin.
“This action should not be viewed as disciplinary or an indication of any adverse finding relative to Superintendent Jette or his actions,” the committee’s statement said.
“Due to the nature of the pending legal matter, it is not appropriate for the School Committee to comment on the specific allegations,” the statement said. “While we understand the preliminary information which has been shared is troubling, we also ask for our community’s patience as this process continues and request that you continue to respect the privacy rights of all involved in this matter.”
Amy Dexter, assistant superintendent for business affairs, and Garth McKinney, assistant superintendent for curriculum and human resources, will take over as leaders of the district, according to the School Committee’s statement.
The committee met in a closed executive session Thursday to discuss the matter, according to the public agenda posted to the town’s website.
Rosmarin said in a phone interview before the meeting that she “was recently made aware of this private legal matter involving the superintendent of schools.”
She added that “this is considered to be a confidential personnel matter, and due to the privacy rights of all involved, I’m not able to comment any further on the specifics.”
According to a police report filed in the case, officers were called to the couple’s home around 1:20 a.m. on May 27 for a reported domestic assault. Police were met on the porch by Jette’s partner, who said she and Jette had dinner and watched a basketball game earlier in the evening and that they began arguing over the broken pot when she first arrived home around 9:30 p.m.
Jette eventually went to bed and she followed him upstairs, where the argument escalated, the woman told police.
She said Jette at one point “pushed her back to a wall and placed his hand on her neck,” according to the report. She told police Jette’s hand was on her neck for about 20 to 30 seconds and never hindered her breathing. She took photos of her neck and indicated to police that Jette had never done anything like that before, according to the report.
An officer observed a red mark on the left side of her neck in the general area where she described being touched by Jette, according to the report.
Jette told police he never touched his partner during the argument, according to the filing.
“Jette seemed confused as to why he was under arrest,” the report read. “Jette stated that he has been asleep the whole time and the only reason that he woke up was because of his dogs barking once we (Police) arrived.”
His partner declined medical attention, according to the report.
Jette’s next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 20, records show.
Reached by e-mail Thursday, Jette’s partner wrote that the May incident was a “personal matter” and that she and Jette “are perfectly fine.”
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