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Director of Madison Park high school in Boston is placed on leave

Kevin McCaskill is the latest leader of the troubled Roxbury school to fall under scrutiny. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File 2015

Boston public school officials placed the executive director of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School on paid leave Monday, making him the latest leader of the troubled Roxbury school to fall under scrutiny.

Word that Kevin McCaskill had been placed on leave began circulating around the school shortly after dismissal. A few hours later, Superintendent Tommy Chang sent a letter notifying staff, parents, and students that McCaskill was under investigation, although he did not say why.

“We will have student support systems in place tomorrow for any students who have questions or concerns,” Chang wrote in the letter, which was provided to the Globe. “School faculty will also be holding an assembly tomorrow for each grade level to share this information directly with students and address any concerns.”


Richard Weir, a spokesman for the Boston Public Schools, said employee confidentiality laws prevent the school system from revealing the reasons for the investigation.

During McCaskill’s absence, assistant headmaster Brett Dickens will run the school. Michelle Sylvaria, the school system’s director of career and technical education for high schools, will oversee the vocational programs.

McCaskill has been the school’s executive director — the top leadership position — since summer 2015 and oversees vocational programs and partnerships with area businesses. Last December, he took on extra duties after school officials placed the school’s headmaster, Shawn Shackelford, on leave. The school system never disclosed why Shackelford was placed on leave. He no longer works for the school system and was never formally replaced.

The hiring of Shackelford and McCaskill two years ago was meant to restore public confidence and foster a turnaround at the school, which has been plagued by poor test scores and low morale. Mayor Martin J. Walsh had singled out Madison Park as a focal point of his campaign to overhaul high schools.


But now the school’s leadership is again mired in controversy.

In 2014, Diane Ross Gary resigned as headmaster after school officials discovered she never obtained the state certification needed to lead a school. Her departure followed a scheduling mess that left many students and teachers without any classes on the first day of school.

In 2013, school officials placed Queon Jackson on leave amid a Secret Service investigation into possible credit fraud. The federal agency never filed charges, and Jackson finally returned to work in the district’s central office in 2016, after collecting $375,000 during his paid leave.

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