Jul 29, 2014
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No. 1 Story of the Year: Lavender and SPS Sagas

A look back at what made news in Sudbury in 2012.

No. 1 Story of the Year: Lavender and SPS Sagas

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Top 5 stories, which will run from Dec. 17-21, were based on total page views as of Dec. 10.)

These two storylines began on May 22 and to this day are still causing stirs in the community. To say one weighed more on the town than the other could not be justified.

Lavender began as a simple report from the Sudbury Police Department log where Lavender Asian Cuisine & Bar owner Tim Fong received a liquor license warning for hosting patrons after the allowed hours.

What followed has the town up in arms, demanding an increase in the number of selectmen.

Board Chairman Larry O'Brien admitted to being at Lavender too late, along with about a dozen other town officials, saying he simply lost track of time and apologized.

That night, Elizabeth Rust of the Sudbury Department of Planning and Community Development department crashed her car, was cited for a third OUI, and admitted to Sudbury police she had just left Lavender.

Residents demanded answers from their chairman, who recused himself from all Lavender talk (except for one meeting in November where Lavender asked for extended hours the night before Thanksgiving). Selectmen Bob Haarde and John Drobinski disagreed on the importance of continuing discussion, leaving the town without answers.

Now, Sudbury is a meer few months away from voting on whether to add two seats to its Board of Selectmen.

Sudbury Public Schools came under fire that same day on May 22 when Sudbury Patch received a tip that long-time Noyes Elementary School teacher Janice Donahue was in jeopardy of losing her job.

A scheduled hearing for May 23 between Donahue and Superintendent Anne Wilson never materialized. Instead, an attorney representing SPS and Wilson met with Donahue and her representation.

Donahue's 25-year career at SPS was over, although to this day she's never been told why.

Parents and supporters of Donahue grilled the SPS committee. Pressure spilled over into the new school year. Nearly 200 signatures were put on a petition as parents told Wilson and the committee they had no confidence in her leadership.

During the saga it was also learned a former secretary filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Wilson and the Town of Sudbury. And a Curtis Middle School administrator suddenly resigned after being put on paid leave and having a 51A report filed against him, a report similar to the one Donahue received.

The committee has stood by Wilson, and recently extended her contract and gave her a raise.

(Click on the following links to read more on the topics: Lavender Violation; Janice Donahue Dismissal; Peter Fardig Dismissal; Diane LaChapelle lawsuit.)

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