As the public may be aware, yesterday afternoon the Town of Andover was informed by the four full-time AYS employees (Assistant Director Glenn Wilson, Anthony Lombardi, Jacklyn Stackhouse, and Neal Callahan) in separate letters that all are resigning from their employment. Because this coordinated resignation has raised public concerns about the delivery of essential services by AYS to our youth, the Town is issuing this response. The response will also correct significantly misleading information which has been circulated to the public regarding the alleged basis for these resignations.
First, the Town has immediately started to mobilize resources to support the Town’s youth in the interim. To that end, Community Services Director Jemma Lambert has requested a meeting with the AYS Assistant Director as soon as possible to obtain information that is essential to a transition, especially given the short notice provided by the group resignation. The health, safety, and welfare of Andover’s young people are the Town’s top priority. The full-time staff’s group resignation may have significant impacts on seasonal staff, program participants and community members, and we hope that the resigning employees will share the Town’s concern, cooperate in the transition, and help mitigate the impacts. Support services for those affected by the resignations will be made available beginning early next week. More information about this will be distributed soon.
Within the next week, the Town will be announcing a community-led process that will help shape the next steps for Andover Youth Services. If you are interested in participating in this process, please email NextStepsForAYS@andoverma.us with an expression of your interest and your contact information.
Regarding the information that is circulating about the alleged basis for the group resignation, since February 5th, AYS has remained under the administrative oversight of Ms. Lambert with day to day direction provided by the Assistant Director of AYS. During that period of more than six months, no member of the staff or anyone else has suggested to any Town official that AYS has been a “toxic” or “hostile” workplace – until this week. Instead, these allegations were first made after the Select Board stated during its meeting on Monday evening, August 16th that it supports an independent investigation into these employees’ receipt of apparently unlawful payments from the Andover Youth Foundation and other potentially serious violations of the public’s trust. Those facts first came to light in texts that were contained on former AYS Director Fahey’s Town-issued cell phone. For the purposes of transparency and to meet the Town’s legal obligation to investigate conduct of this type, the investigation into these matters will continue and the findings will be made public.
One issue that has been raised involves the Town’s decision to not appoint a member of the existing staff to the role of Interim Director instead of following the Town’s typical assessment and selection process to find and select a qualified individual to serve in the interim capacity. As noted, there is an investigation underway to look into potential violations of law and improprieties by current AYS staff. In those circumstances it simply would not have been appropriate to appoint a member of the existing staff.
Finally, at no time has the Town Manager had any interaction with the AYS staff, with the sole exception of offering support to the Assistant Director and asking him to provide a plan for the future operation of AYS. The staff’s union representative was present for this discussion. The Assistant Director rejected the offer of support and did not follow up on crafting a plan for the future of AYS. During this discussion he made no mention of a toxic or hostile work environment. The Town offered resources to the AYS staff if needed on several occasions over the past several months following the departure of the Director. Those offers were rejected.
The next steps for AYS will reflect input from the public. As a reminder we encourage you to please email NextStepsForAYS@andoverma.us with an expression of your interest in participating in the process and your contact information.