Licensing hearing for Burlington HS guidance director continues

Published: Dec. 13, 2018 at 11:47 AM EST
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The licensing hearing for a former Burlington High School guidance director continued Thursday in Barre with new testimony from former guidance counselors and students.

It's the second day of the hearing, which started last month. Mario Macias faces seven counts of misconduct filed by the Vermont Education Agency. He has been accused of falsifying information, yelling at an employee and failing to maintain a professional relationship with a college student who was substitute teaching, among other claims. The secretary of education is recommending Macias' teaching license be permanently revoked.

Three of those who testified Thursday were former BHS guidance counselors who say they left because of Macias and what they called a hostile, toxic work environment under his leadership. They also described how their complaints up the chain of command at the school about Macias went unanswered. And how when the administration did call an intervention, one counselor said their concerns were not brought up.

"And I walked out of that meeting and I said out loud to all of my colleagues, 'I cannot continue to work here after this year. I cannot continue to work here.' And that was when I said I have to go," said Larissa Urban, a former BHS guidance counselor.

"I started having some experiences with him that I felt disrespected and belittled, and that became how I would characterize that relationship for the remainder of the school year," said Simrat Peltier, a former BHS guidance counselor.

Students also testified, saying how Macias allegedly allowed disruptive behavior during an AP statistics test.

"I felt weird because I knew it wasn't supposed to happen, based on my experience with the AP U.S. history test. And I felt a little mad because during the test it was disruptive to have students talking, whispering, drawing on the board," said Jackson Elder, a BHS student.

Macias' lawyer questioned whether some of them didn't like Macias because he was new and brought in new policies.

Only prosecution witnesses testified Thursday, but Macias' lawyer indicated his client will take the stand Friday.

Even if the hearings wrap up Friday, a final decision on whether Macias will keep his license could stretch into the new year.