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South Hadley School Board Head and Critic Trade Blows

By Shannon Hegy

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WGGB) — Darby O’Brien may have gained media attention because of his affiliation with the Prince family, and said he spoke out first as a father, but a town school official is challenging the role he has since played in the situation. 

It was a January Boston Globe article titled “The Untouchable Mean Girls” that O’Brien, an advertising and public relations specialist, claims ignited the media frenzy.

“I made the call to Kevin Cullen at the Boston Globe, who I’ve known for 25 years, because the local media was no longer covering the story,” said O’Brien.  “The school officials were going to do what they usually do in South Hadley which is sweep it under the rug.”

O’Brien says after the article ran, the Prince family called him.  He says they wanted to meet in person and say thank you.

“They stood here when we first met and held me by the hand and said, ‘We want you to fight because we can’t,’ and I haven’t let them down,” said O’Brien.

Since then, O’Brien has appeared on numerous media outlets including ABC’s Good Morning America and Dr. Phil, claiming he always does so as a concerned father, not a Prince family spokesman.

“I’ve answered the question about how they’re doing.  I’ve answered the question about South Hadley, that they’re grateful to the town for the support,” said O’Brien, “but I’ve always said that the Prince family has not spoken and I can’t speak for them.”

Yet, time after time, it seems O’Brien is always referred to as the spokesman he claims he’s not.

On Sunday night, South Hadley School Committee Chairman Edward Boisselle shared with abc40 and Fox 6 a letter sent from the Prince family’s lawyer, Rebecca Bouchard, to South Hadley School Superintendent Gus Sayer at his request, which states the law firm is the only mouthpiece that can claim to speak for the family.

“No one, other than this firm is authorized to represent the Prince family or assert they have any authorization or permission to communicate on their behalf,” states the e-mail in part.

“It’s a terrible tragedy what happened, there’s no question about it,” said Boisselle, “but for this guy, for his own personal well being, to say that he represents the Prince family and that he’s their spokesperson in such a delicate and insensitive manner is pathetic.”

O’Brien says Boisselle’s efforts are only intended to keep him quiet.

“He knows the role that I’m in,” said O’Brien.  “He knows that I’m a parent.  Ed Boisselle is reacting to the non-stop attention that I’ve created and that Luke Gelinas has created demanding answers from his school committee.”

Gelinas is another very vocal parent.

O’Brien says he’s still in contact with the Prince family as well as their lawyer, and that from now on he will make more of an effort to make sure media outlets do not refer to him as a spokesman.  However, O’Brien says he has no plans to stop speaking out anytime soon.

“I will continue to speak and I will be louder than ever,” said O’Brien.

The South Hadley School Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the high school library. abc40 and Fox 6 will have full coverage of the event starting with Fox 6 News at 10 p.m. and then at abc40 News at 11 p.m.

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