An online petition is calling for, among other things, the dismissal of Lexington’s athletic director, who admitted last week to doctoring an email that immediately preceded the Middlesex League’s Title IX-driven decision to abandon its doubleheader basketball schedule.
Last week, Naomi Martin, the athletic director at Lexington High, was given a week of unpaid leave after it came to light that she had fabricated information attributed to a Lexington parent in a November email to athletic directors across the Middlesex League. On Jan. 19, Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash sent an email to that same audience attempting to “correct the record” and calling Martin’s actions “unacceptable.”
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Earlier this week, a petition hit the interwebs that calls for, among other things, disciplinary action beyond the week’s suspension. As of yesterday afternoon, the petition, posted to Change.org by a user named John Igoe, had collected more than 70 signatures.
- The immediate dismissal of Martin.
- An investigation into all decisions made by Martin and the athletic department “related to the athletic programs regarding financial, program and personnel during her tenure.”
- An independent audit of athletic department finances, “including quasi-related” fundraising activities, such as concession stands, camps and clinics.
- For the School Committee and administrators to perform “an open and independent review of all materials and facts related to this situation, including the actions of the School Administration and Dr Ash [sic] the Superintendent of Schools.”
Online records indicate there is a Lexington resident named John Igoe. And there is a Patch user going by “john igoe” – using the same capitalization as on the petition – who has been commenting on Lexington Patch’s coverage of Martin’s suspension, and who posted a link to the survey. However, as of late Tuesday afternoon, the Patch user "john igoe" had not responded to a request for comment on the survey.
Ash, the superintendent of schools, declined to comment on the petition.
Reached by email, School Committee Chair Margaret Coppe said "petitions are a legitimate way to bring issues of concern to elected officials, school administrators, neighbors or co-workers." She did not offer a response specific to this particular petition.
As of yesterday evening, the Change.org petition was not on the School Committee's agenda tonight, Jan. 30. Via email, Coppe said the School Committee does not have a protocol for dealing with online petitions, but noted residents have a chance to bring up items of concern during public comments periods.
Not long before the start of the 2012-2013 basketball season, the Middlesex League’s athletic directors voted to discontinue the doubleheader basketball schedule that had been in place since the mid-1990s. Instead, this season has been played utilizing a single-gender schedule that saw the girls and boys teams playing at opposite locations, whereas the varsity squads used to share a venue while the JVs played at the opposite site.
According to reports, the decision was made on Nov. 20, and upheld Dec. 4, despite student athletes appealing to the ADs with another option.
Media reports at the time pinned the impetus for change on a Lexington parent’s threat of a lawsuit over the doubleheader schedule’s noncompliance with Title IX, a 40-year-old law meant to ensure gender equity.
The parent has since been identified as Kathryn Robb. But, while she was pushing for Lexington High to comply with Title IX, she was not threatening a lawsuit against her hometown high school, let alone the Middlesex League.
Those were among the details Martin, the LHS athletic director, added and attributed to Robb in her attempt to “bolster” the case for the Middlesex League to comply with Title IX, according to Ash’s email to the Middlesex League ADs and Martin’s apology email to Robb.
Martin has declined to comment on the events that led up to the Middlesex League’s schedule change.
In mid-December, as Robb enlisted legal council and made public records requests, the fabrications began to unwind and Lexington administrators became aware of Martin’s fabrications.
A month later, Ash emailed the Middlesex League ADs to set the record straight and Martin emailed an apology to Robb – which Robb, through her attorneys, has called unsatisfactory.
It’s unclear why both the record-straightening email and emailed apology were sent out on the same date – Jan. 19 – and the Lexington Public Schools, via a spokesperson, have declined to comment further with regard to the apology or the timing of it.