BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WWLP) – The Chicopee School Committee has voted to put their school superintendent on paid administrative leave. This new move comes after Lynn Clark, the Superintendent of Chicopee Public Schools, was arrested after allegedly lying to federal investigators.
The School Committee met Wednesday evening in emergency session. They voted 8 to 3 to place Clark on paid administrative leave effective immediately, and request her resignation. Assistance Superintendent Alvin Morton will become the acting Superintendent.
According to a complaint filed in federal court, in December 2021, the City of Chicopee was in the process of hiring a new Chief of Police. On Dec. 3, 2021, law enforcement received a report that a candidate was receiving threats.
According to United States Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office, in November 2021, after submitting their application for Chief of Police, the candidate received numerous text messages from unknown numbers with “threats to expose information that would cause the victim reputational harm.” Messages were also allegedly sent to the individual’s spouse. The unnamed victim withdrew their application, and it caused the city to delay the selection process.
According to federal court documents, Clark sent 99 text messages “that were threatening in nature using an app to disguise her phone number.” Clark allegedly used an app to purchase and use fake phone numbers.
The DOJ says Clark, at first, denied sending the messages and suggested others that could be suspects instead. Clark allegedly suggested that the messages could have been sent by other Chicopee city employees, the victim’s colleagues, and a member of Clark’s own family. Clark later admitted that she was the one who sent the messages.
Clark was arrested at her home on Oak Ridge Drive in Belchertown Wednesday morning, according to FBI Boston Division Spokesperson Kristen Setera. She has been charged with making false statements. The FBI can be seen bringing out multiple containers from the home and putting them in their cars Wednesday morning. Setera told 22News there was no threat to the public.
The FBI declines further comment due to the ongoing investigation.
Clark made an initial appearance in federal court in Springfield Wednesday. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she was released on standard conditions and ordered to not contact individuals involved in the incident and not drink alcohol. The charge of making false statements has a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Parents and community members 22News talked to were in disbelief.
“For someone in that position you really want to be able to trust them,” said Alisha Saxon of Springfield. “Just on the accusations at least she needs to be is taken away from that position until they get the truth of the matter. You know?”
“As a parent, putting all your trust into somebody as a… being a higher up, you know. So yeah, it’s very concerning,” said Eric Anderson of Chicopee.
Chicopee Mayor John Vieau’s office has released the following statement regarding Clark’s arrest Wednesday:
“This morning, Superintendent of Schools, Lynn Clark was charged for making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Mayor’s Office is aware of the situation and we are working to ensure that School Department operations continue smoothly through this transition as the education of children remains paramount.
Today’s arrest is disheartening for the City of Chicopee. The School Committee will meet tonight in executive session to decide on a proper course of action.”Rachel Beaulieu, Communications and Special Projects Manager
The Chicopee Police Department and Chicopee Public Schools declined to comment.