Vermont’s secretary of education leveled a new charge against suspended Burlington High School guidance director Mario Macias last week, accusing him of putting a student in emotional distress by trying to recruit the student to defend him against allegations of unprofessional conduct.
The guidance director was already facing six charges, filed on September 7, related to allegations that he faked a student transcript, behaved unprofessionally with a substitute teacher and showed general incompetence at his job.
In a September 26 charging document, Secretary of Education Dan French wrote that Macias “inappropriately engaged a student witness in a discussion of the licensing charges against him, in a manner that he should have known would cause the student severe emotional distress.”
French recommended that Macias’ educator license be permanently revoked.
The Burlington Free Press first reported the new charge on Tuesday.
In the charging document, French said Macias’ alleged witness tampering qualified as unprofessional conduct under state law. The secretary previously called for Macias’ license to be suspended for 364 days but altered his recommendation after the latest charge.
According to an affidavit by Agency of Education investigator Robert Stafford Jr., Macias tried to get the student to “make a statement in his defense” against the other accusations.
Russ Elek, a spokesperson for the Burlington School District, confirmed that Macias remains on paid administrative leave, but refused to comment on the new allegation or say whether the district is independently investigating.
“I know people want a quote or comment from the district about this, but I also hope you understand for numerous reasons, the District cannot comment on specific personal matters,” Elek wrote in an email to Seven Days. “This is an AOE process now and we are cooperating fully as well as making sure we comply with all union HR procedures within the District.”
Ted Fisher, the director of communications for the Agency of Education, said formal charges, such as the seven against Macias, “are heard and decided by the Licensing Hearing Panel, a Governor-appointed group of teachers, administrators and public members who decide cases of formal licensing action.”
If the panel finds there’s enough evidence to substantiate the charges, Fisher said, its members can issue a warning, impose conditions on the educator’s license, or suspend or revoke the license.