Former Mansfield Town Manager Derrik Kennedy resigned July 17 after allegations of racism and a hostile work environment were brought to light by department heads within the Town of Mansfield.
“We regret to inform you that on July 1, 2019, the undersigned Mansfield Department Heads voted to notify the Town Council that we have lost all faith, confidence and trust in Mr. Kennedy and his ability to lead this organization as Town Manager,” a July 2 letter to the town council from 12 department heads said.
Many of the complaints detailed in the letter involve Joshua Putnam, who was hired by Kennedy, to serve as assistant town manager. The position, the letter said, was changed from “assistant to the town manager” to “assistant town manager” and included a $11,702 pay increase when Kennedy selected Putnam for the position, whom he had previously worked with in Westerly, Rhode Island.
Putnam referred to a female department head as a “f*cking c*nt” and a “f*cking b*tch” “within earshot” of Kennedy, who failed to reprimand Putnam in a timely fashion or address the female worker, the letter said.
Kennedy himself made racist remarks too, the letter said.
“On May 9, 2019, Mr. Kennedy forcefully stated ‘I hate black people’ as he was closing his office door to begin a meeting with a department head,” the letter said. “Naturally taken aback, the department head queried what had generated the comment. In response, he expressed annoyance that a woman from the NAACP kept contacting him following a meeting he’d had with her where she discussed what the NAACP could do for the organization.”
The six page letter urged the town council to take action. Exactly one week later, the town council went into executive session during its meeting to discuss the matter.
On July 17, the town council held a special meeting to accept the resignation of Kennedy, which was sent to Mayor Paul Shapiro earlier that day. John Carrington, Director of Public Works, was then appointed as interim town manager for 90 days, which expires next week.
Also on July 17, Kennedy sent a letter to Shapiro saying that the letter to him from the department heads “came as a surprise.”
“The contents of this letter and accusations against me are either gross mischaracterizations of conversations or complete mistruths and insults,” the letter said.
In addition to Mansfield, Kennedy has had allegations of misconduct brought against him when he was town manager in Westerly, too.
According to the Westerly Sun, former Westerly Town Engineer Paul LeBlanc is suing Westerly “claiming he was forced to resign in 2016 as a result of alleged misconduct by former Town Manager Derrik Kennedy.”
LeBlanc claims he was put in a position where he was forced to break the law as well as give tasks to “subordinates” who were unable to complete the assignment, despite Kennedy’s knowledge of this.
Kennedy did not respond to The Daily Campus when asked for comment.
Luke Hajdasz is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.