Town intends to comply with 'intent' of Special Town Meeting article

Aug. 4—A couple months have gone by since two resident submitted articles that were passed during a Special Town Meeting. The Special Town Meeting was the result of a petition by Andover residents which gained over 1,000 signatures. During the meeting six articles were voted on, all of which were petitioned for by residents, with the majority failing.

The town plans to comply with the intent of Article 3, which prohibited the use of non-disclosure agreements unless under certain scenarios, according to a memo from Town Manager Andrew Flanagan to the Select Board. In the case of article 1, which would have given a one-time stipend of $800 for educational support professionals, the School Committee has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Department of Labor Relations regarding the use of the article.

In the memo, Flanagan outlined the School Committee's response to (Andover Education Assistants) AEA "attempt to use the Article."

"This article was approved. Consistent with the statement by Town Counsel when asked during the Special Town Meeting, Article 1 is not being enforced because it is unlawful," he wrote. "The School Committee filed an unfair practice charge in the Department of Labor Relations after the AEA followed up with an attempt to use the Article notwithstanding its illegality and the charge is pending."

During Town Meeting, Town Counsel Tom Urbelis argued against this measure, saying that it was not the role of Town Meeting to engage in collective bargaining.

When dealing with NDAs Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said there would be "no change of policy," but said in the memo that they are undergoing an effort to eliminate non-disclosure provisions.

"As background, the Town offered to release each of the seven former employees that agreed to non-disclosure provisions as part of negotiated separation agreements from said provisions. This offer was extended to the former in employees in August of 2021. None of the former employees agreed to be released."

The memo continues that there will continue to be exceptions when employees request a non-disclosure provision or "if a non-disclosure provision is necessary to protect the identity of a victim of improper conduct."

Other articles voted on during Special Town Meeting included an article that would have put in place an annual review of the Town Manager and School Superintendent, and an article that would have created a fund for mental health and well being services, to be paid for by transferring $1 million from free cash into the fund.