SHA Executive Director William Abrashkin to lead review of child’s death
Springfield Housing Authority Executive Director William H. Abrashkin will head up an independent review of the Feb. 15 death of a sixth grader in the swimming pool at Kiley Middle School.
Schools Superintendent Daniel J. Warwick asked Abrashkin to look at policies and personnel in relation to the death of 12-year-old Marlon Brown, who died during a swimming class on the Friday before the start of the week-long winter vacation.
Warwick and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced the selection of Abrashkin at a Feb. 25 news conference in the School Department offices in downtown Springfield. Both said Abrashkin was the top choice for the review due to his reputation for honesty, integrity and hard work.
“We wanted to do an independent, impartial review,” Warwick said. “Student safety is our primary concern.
“Judge Abrashkin has a long history in Springfield and in Western Massachusetts. He has an impeccable reputation for integrity and high ethical standards.”
Warwick added that school pools will remain closed until the review is complete. Separate from Abrashkin’s review is an investigation underway by the office of Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastrioanni.
Abrashkin was judge of Hampden County Housing Court for 22 years before he came to run the SHA in 2008. He now oversees a public housing system that includes nearly 2,400 traditional public housing units for families, seniors and handicapped persons at 27 sites throughout the city, more than 2,700 Housing Choice Vouchers, 240 Massachusetts Rental Vouchers, and a $33 million annual budget.
Mayor Sarno said Abrashkin has always been known as a man of high integrity. His choice to lead up a thorough review of the death at Kiley makes good sense, he added.
“We want to leave no stone unturned,” Sarno said. “This is about the legacy of Marlon Brown, who was a wonderful young man.”
Abrashkin thanked Warwick and Sarno for their confidence in him, and promised to conduct a thorough review of policies and personnel related to the death. He will complete the task with a written report to Warwick.
“I’m honored that the superintendent has asked me to lead this review. I’m going to do this as quickly as possible, but I consider it more important to get it right,” Abrashkin said.
An official cause of death for Marlon Brown has not been released.