Impact Statement of the Lunenburg School Committee

To the Honorable Judge McCann:

My name is David Reif and I am the Chairman of the Lunenburg School Committee. I am here today representing the committee on behalf of all the children, faculty, staff, and parents of the Lunenburg Public Schools who are all victims of the criminal actions of Mr. Carlson.

It's easy for me today to provide you a list of what we could have purchased with the money he stole from our children because each year the School Committee agonized over what couldn't be provided to our children due to the lack of funds. We should have been able to purchase a much needed new math curriculum for the entire district that would have provided current and consistent math instruction for students from kindergarten through grade 12. But we couldn't. We should have been able to provide our teachers more professional development opportunities to improve their skills as educators. But we couldn't. We should have been able to make substantial inroads into improving technology within our schools, where we currently rank in the bottom 5% in the state. But we couldn't do any of this because Mr. Carlson stole those opportunities from our children.

The list is lengthy, but quite frankly, the impact on the children of this district goes well beyond any list of items I could provide. And in many instances, the impact is immeasurable and most likely irreparable.

Mr. Carlson violated the trust of the entire community and abused his position of authority. He was a manipulator and controller and used his position to control the flow of information and money. And the system he put in place and fostered allowed him to repeatedly steal money from our children. These actions have resulted in an atmosphere of cynicism and mistrust of our schools. It will take us years to repair the trust with our community. As leaders we accept our responsibility to repair the trust and it's time for Mr. Carlson to accept the full consequences of his actions.

Mr. Carlson is a thief and little better than a child abuser. He abused the children of this district by the insidious way that he stole money from them. He has robbed them of so very much:

  • He stole our children's opportunities to learn, create, and dream.

  • He stole their access to new technology and closed their opportunities to explore new horizons.

  • And his stealing compromised their potentials to excel.

Your Honor, he stole from our children every day for six years!!

We ask you to consider the 700 children that have graduated while Mr. Carlson was stealing critical funds from their educational programs. How do we repay them for the opportunities stolen from them? How do we even assess the harm that has been done? How many would have made it into their first choice of college, but didn't because of what we couldn't offer them as a result of Mr. Carlson stealing their opportunities? How many of these young men and women entered the workforce after graduation unable to adequately compete because we couldn't meet all of their needs as a result of Mr. Carlson stealing their opportunities? We will never know. For some it will be a lifelong battle to overcome these missed opportunities and achieve their potential. And I personally apologize to each and every one of our graduates for those missed opportunities. They all deserved much more.

What about our 1800 students today? How can we build back their opportunities in a climate of mistrust? How can we even begin to identify the long-term impact? How many of our kids had to be held back because we couldn't provide the level of tutoring they needed? Many of our students don't have access to computers at home. And because Mr. Carlson made the conscious decision to steal from and abuse our children, we can't provide adequate access to computer technology in the schools either.

For six years, Mr. Carlson woke up every single day knowing that he was stealing opportunities from our children. For six years, he woke up everyday plotting against his next victim. Will it be mathbooks? Maybe professional development activities? Maybe field trips or after school programs? Over these past 72 months, he was nothing more than an equal opportunity thief!! Fortunately, eight months ago the abuse was discovered and stopped.

Please allow me a few more moments to demonstrate the calculated and self-serving actions of this individual.

Eight months ago, he stood before our entire faculty and staff with tears streaming down his face crying to them about the terrible cuts and layoffs we were being forced to make. Promising them he would never stop fighting for what the district needed to educate our children. Eight months ago, he stood before our town at a Selectmen's meeting saying how he would never stop fighting for the children in this town so that we would be able to offer them the best education that they deserve. Eight months ago, he was telling the school committee how painful the cuts would be for the district.

However, the cuts would not be painful for Mr. Carlson. Because eight months ago while he was recommending staff reductions to us, he was busy placing an order for a duplicator and office supplies with the Patriot Group in an attempt to put more of our children's money directly in his pocket. And even more revealing, eight months ago he was telling us we needed to find $19,000 for an extra bus when he knew the cost was only going to be $9000 so that down the road he would have access to more of our children's money.

And eight months ago he was escorted out of his office and our district forever. Knowing full well what he had done, that he was guilty and that he was nothing but a common thief.

Mr. Carlson, we have stopped your abuse of our children, but the impact of your actions will continue indefinitely. For that, you do not deserve another moment of freedom until you serve your time in prison and pay back every penny you stole from our kids.

Your Honor, Mr. Carlson does not deserve another day of freedom. He's known this day has been coming for the past six years when he first made the decision to steal from our most precious resource, our children. We've seen his show of crocodile tears before. It is likely you will see them today. He's had his time to prepare. He doesn't need another day. Please, put him away today! Put him in prison for the time recommended by the DA so that he has plenty of opportunity to reflect upon the damage he personally inflicted upon our community and the innocent children of Lunenburg.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the children and students of Lunenburg,

David Reif, Chairman, Lunenburg School Committee