News & Politics

Non-Profit That Fired Man With Down Syndrome From $12 A Week Job Offers Worthless Explanation — But There’s Good News


On Wednesday we brought you the tragic tale of Mark Spanganelli, a man with Down Syndrome who was fired from his $12 a week job polishing silver at a Wyndham Hotel outside of Boston — where he’s worked for 15 years — due to “budget cuts.”

We’ll repeat: Spanganelli lost his $12 a week job because of “budget cuts.”

We have good news and despicable news.

The good news: Spanganelli will be allowed to keep his job at the hotel. The despicable news: the non-profit agency that paid Spanganelli has responded to our request for an explanation of his firing — and it’s worthless.

On Wednesday, we asked the Greater Lawrence Education Collaborative (via-email and voicemail) if Spanganelli’s firing was an isolated canning, or if funding for the program he was a part of was cut completely and others also lost their jobs.

GLEC’s response: crickets.

Yesterday, we followed up by sending GLEC Executive Director Kim Oliveira the following email:

hi kim.
still waiting on a reply to the email i sent yesterday. called again in the afternoon and it went to voicemail.
i asked yesterday, i want to know if mark spanganelli was the only
person to lose his job due to “budget cuts.” if the program he was part
of was cut completely, that’s one thing. if your agency just decided to
no longer cough up 12 bucks a week to keep him employed, that’s another.
and that’s what i’ll write. i’ll also compare his $12 a week to the
salaries of the four people your agency employs full-time, your annual
operating budget (each of which are easily attainable public records),
and any other monetary value i can find to demonstrate how absurd it is
to can a guy who makes $12 a week because of “budget cuts.”

i plan to write a followup to this morning. please get back to me.


Oliveira provided us with the following worthless response:

Hi James,

Thank you for your email, however, I did not receive any voicemails.

Here is the statement released this week:

“Due to state and federal confidentiality laws, GLEC cannot speak
specifically about this matter with you. At this time, GLEC cannot
comment further other than to let you know that our program works in the
best interests of its students.”

Be Well,

Kim Oliveira

First and foremost, we, in fact, left her a voicemail on Wednesday morning. Secondly, she didn’t answer our question, which indicates that the answer might make her agency look even shittier than it already does. And thirdly, “best interests of its students?” They fired a guy with Down Syndrome who makes $12 a week! Really? Really?

Additionally, the Wyndham Hotel — which has nothing to do with hiring, firing, or paying Stanganelli — cited some bureaucratic bullshit as its reason for not being able to keep Stanganelli employed for a mere $12 a week.

Thankfully, we’ve learned that Spanganelli will get to keep his job — no thanks to GLEC, though.

After learning of Spanganelli’s predicament, the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services stepped in and says it’s found a way to keep Stanganelli on the job.

“We all have Mark’s best interests at heart, and after meeting with his family…we arrived at a resolution that will allow Mark to stay in a position at the Wyndham while we work with the family,” Alex Loftus, a spokesman at the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services, told the Andover Patch, a local community journalism publication.

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