Ex-charter school head wants job back

MARBLEHEAD – Thomas Commeret, the estranged head of the Marblehead Community Charter Public School, wants to go back to work – and he’s taking legal steps to get there.Commeret, scheduled to go on trial in Lynn District Court March 24 on charges of assault and battery and threats, has notified the charter school board of his intent to seek arbitration under his employment contract, according to board secretary John McEnaney.Commeret is currently on paid administrative leave until June 30, 2009, earning $106,000 a year. He was placed on leave by the charter school board after police charged him last summer. The leave originally related to the resolution of the criminal case. The board later changed it to the duration of his contract.The charter school board discussed his arbitration request in executive session during a special meeting Wednesday morning, Jan. 30, McEnaney said, and "The board has referred this matter to school counsel." The school’s labor counsel is Boston Attorney Barbara Buell.Commeret is charged with shoving a 14-year-old female student against a door last year and telling her, "If you tell anyone about this I will (expletive deleted) find you." His lawyer in the criminal case is Boston Attorney Jay Carney, who got the original police felony charge, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a door, reduced to misdemeanor assault and battery. The school board polarized during the months after Commeret was arrested for driving under the influence of liquor in 2006 and a number of his supporters have left the board since the assault case came to light.Commeret’s labor lawyer, Boston Attorney Alfred Gordon, said he originally requested arbitration last August, but the criminal trial has taken longer than expected. "I’m not accusing the board of dragging their heels," he said. The board meeting was prompted by a formal letter he wrote Jan. 22 and faxed to Buell.He said there were several contract matters Commeret wants to arbitrate but the return to work is the largest."He (Commeret) has been taken out of his work environment and he’s unable to perform the job he has excelled at for a dozen years," Gordon said, referring to Commeret’s previous record as the MCCPS’s first head of school."He wants nothing more than to be part of the school he has given his heart to."Gordon said he is confident that Commeret will succeed in defending himself against the "baseless" criminal charges."Maybe another person would sit back and collect the money," Gordon said, "but not Tom Commeret."Gordon said he plans to seek arbitration by a professional from the American Arbitration Association or another group, and is awaiting Buell’s response.Buell could not be reached for comment.

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