HomeNewsHop Teachers Union President Abate Under Fire for Allegedly Rigging Election

Hop Teachers Union President Abate Under Fire for Allegedly Rigging Election

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Key Takeaways

  • The Hopkinton Teachers Association (HTA) Executive Board determined that the recent HTA election was conducted improperly
  • Parents are pressuring teachers to lend their support to Abate’s competitor, Michael Franchock
  • Abate has long been a controversial figure, both inside the classroom and out
  • The School Committee and HTA are set to begin contract negotiations this fall, and if elected, Abate would lead them on behalf of the HTA

Rebecca “Becky” Abate, the president of the Hopkinton Teachers Association (HTA) and an eighth-grade English teacher at Hopkinton Middle School, is facing criticism from scores of teachers and parents, who accuse Abate of union election tampering and unfair dealing in contract negotiations with the town.

In an unprecedented move, a group of parents have started a quiet public relations campaign to encourage Hopkinton teachers to vote for Abate’s rival, Hopkinton High teacher Michael Franchock, as the HTA president.

Two weeks ago an election was held to choose the HTA leadership team, and Abate sought reelection as president, a position she has held since 2017. As in past years, Abate won, this time by approximately 40 votes.

But after receiving complaints and reviewing their bylaws, the Executive Board of the HTA invalidated the election, finding that the organization had not followed established guidelines by forming an election committee. Abate, as the sitting President, conducted the election herself, the HTA determined. The election results were voided, and the agreed to “form an election committee to determine the parameters” before moving forward.

As in past years, voting for the union president was conducted electronically, with the polls opening at 7:00 AM. Reportedly, Abate spent the day visiting other classrooms and lobbying teachers to vote for her, a tactic that by typical election standards would not be allowed because the schools are considered a polling location.

HopNews also received reports that Abate sent emails to several elementary school teachers defaming Franchock, who in the past served a two-year term as HTA Vice President.

It is against district policy for union business to be conducted during school day, and Abate has been reprimanded for similar activity in the past.

According to several sources, teachers are afraid to challenge Abate’s position as president for fear of reprisal, a sentiment confirmed in an anonymous email sent to HopNews. “Abate’s tactic is to always go on the attack,” wrote the author. “If you’re on Facebook, you have witnessed that firsthand.

But Abate is not without her supporters, who have consistently shown a willingness to elect her in spite of their reservations. “I don’t always agree with how she does things,” said one teacher, who spoke anonymously, “but she gets the job done.”

HopNews contacted Ms. Abate, and she was asked about the calls for her resignation. “I have no intention of resigning. I have many supporters,” she said. In a written statement, HTA Vice President Jenn Jordan said “The HTA does not comment publicly on matters of private Association business.

A Reputation for Controversy

Abate is no stranger to controversy and even seems to welcome it at times. According to former School Committee members, Abate is known for her aggressive approach to negotiations and her fierce commentary in social media forums that some have labeled as “toxic”. 

Abate is a resident of East Providence, Rhode Island, and was hired in 2011. She has frequently weighed in on public matters that exceed the scope of her role as HTA president, and it is often unclear whether she is speaking as a private citizen, the union president, or both.

School Committee members and Local Elections

Such was the case in February 2022 when Abate publicly chastised School Committee members Joe Markey and Meg Tyler. Markey and Tyler had advocated that the School Committee follow state guidelines to lift the mask mandate due to the schools meeting the required vaccination threshold, a position Abate disagreed with. Lori Nickerson, whose term on School Committee recently ended but who was then a private citizen, filed a complaint against Mr. Markey and Ms. Tyler, falsely claiming that the two had violated state Open Meeting Law.

[Markey] and Ms. Tyler have acted in the shadows of private Facebook groups to advance their position on a topic already so divisive to this town,” Abate wrote in a letter to the School Committee. “In doing so they have created a very public divide between themselves and their colleagues. Mr. Markey has frequently commended the School Committee for remaining ‘unified’ despite their differing views. It is disheartening to see that unification be weakened at a time when it is so critical.

Markey and Tyler were exonerated of any wrongdoing, but the damage was done, and the pair resigned from School Committee 5 days later.

Reached for comment, Markey shared that he believes Abate’s comments at that time “met the legal standard for defamation”, and certainly violated standard terms of civil engagement during contract negotiations, which he later discovered the School Committee’s legal team had failed to implement.

“Abate’s actions had a negative impact on the community, schools, and contract negotiations,” said Markey. “The prolonged exposure to the union president’s exploitation of the power imbalance created by her bully pulpit, and her willingness to spread falsehood and toxicity was certainly one of the considerations in my difficult decision to resign.”

At the time, Markey spoke with the School Committee’s legal counsel to inquire how a town employee could make statements that violate the Code of Conduct for Hopkinton Public Schools, which apply to all staff, teachers and School Committee members. The attorney relayed that union chiefs are exempt under Massachusetts law from such codes of decency when acting on behalf of their executive board.

Abate was equally eager to engage in the May 2023 School Committee election, making it known that she preferred anyone but Ashley Fogg for the contested seat. In comments on HopNews, Abate claimed Fogg had lied to her and accused her of perpetrating a “false narrative” about being bullied.

Abate’s comments prompted a reply from a reader identifying herself as “Concerned Mom”.

It seems highly inappropriate for a Hopkinton Middle School teacher to be arguing on a Hopkinton town news site with Hopkinton parents. I question your judgement now. How do you keep your cool in the classroom with our children? Based on what I’ve seen from you online, I’m not sure that I trust you in a classroom with my children.

On social media, Abate shared factually inaccurate statements about Fogg’s candidacy, such as in the post below. In another Facebook comment, Abate warned Fogg that she “took comfort in the fact that if [Fogg] ended up on School Committee…we will be watching you“.

HopNews obtained a letter written by Fogg and sent on April 30, 2023 to Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh and the School Committee which contained several social media posts and direct messages made by Abate. In the letter’s conclusion, Fogg wrote “Ms. Abate’s behavior is unprofessional, aggressive, menacing and threatening. Let me be clear in no uncertain terms: I feel threatened for my children’s safety because of her messages and public comments. I am extremely concerned about sending my young children to school tomorrow. I would think Hopkinton Public Schools would NOT continue to employ someone who makes it her mission to lead a charge of accusations with no basis, and who demands answers, or else.”

Peanuts in the Classroom

On October 7, 2021, Hopkinton parent Lee Burns spoke to the School Committee during public forum. Visibly shaking, Burns questioned the committee point-blank, demanding to know why the “the Hopkinton Teachers Association President / english teacher / homeroom teacher of a grade eight classroom, in which my son, and at minimum one other nut allergy confirmed child…why would that person bring in, on more than one occasion, as confirmed by your Hopkinton Public School investigation, why would she bring in a container of peanuts and leave it in the classroom?”

“Our community has already lost one student…to anaphylaxis, due to an allergen consumed.” Burns was referring to HHS sophomore and varsity field hockey player Abbie Benford, who died on December 18, 2013 after suffering a severe allergic reaction.

According to Burns, her son asked about the peanuts, and if they were the teacher’s, and it was confirmed they were.

“He was in a nut-aware classroom…and do you know the response of that teacher? Stay away from the container.”

Hopkinton parent Lee Burns speaks to the School Committee on October 7, 2021

Field Hockey incident leads to Forced Resignation

Abate in 2019, her first year as head coach of the Girls Varsity Field Hockey team.

Also in 2021, as an educator and coach, Abate drew the ire of players and parents of the Hopkinton High Girls Field Hockey Team. According to former players on the team, Abate would hold post-game “chalk talk” meetings. The team struggled that year, going 2-14-1 and finishing 9th in the Tri-Valley League.

According to players, in those meetings Abate often placed the team’s loss at the feet of an individual player, saying something like “you are the reason we lost”. On at least one occasion a player burst into tears, and subsequently the team came together and complained to the assistant coach, who notified then-Athletic Director Rich Cormier and Principal Evan Bishop. An investigation was conducted, and it was decided that Abate would be offered the opportunity to resign as coach. Abate “quit” mid-season and Cormier assumed responsibility for the team. Because the district treated the incident as a “personnel matter” the records have been sealed.

Setting up a Possible Teacher’s Strike

This Fall, the HTA and School Committee will begin negotiating the 2026 – 2029 teachers contract, and if she is president, Abate will lead that process on behalf of the teachers.

The current contract, which spans September 1, 2022 – August 31, 2025 and was ratified on April 6, 2022, contained terms less favorable to the town than those agreed by the School Committee at the beginning of the negotiations, according to sources close to the process.

The contract specifies cost of living increases at 2.5%, 2.75% and 2.75% over 3 years, but due to built-in step and lane increases based on seniority and education credits, the result of total increases is between 5-8% each year for many senior union members.

In 2022, Hopkinton Public Schools had 343 teachers making $50,000 or more, with an average total compensation of $97,598.

Also discussed during negotiations was an hourly rate increase for paraprofessionals (who are represented by a different union), but it was reportedly scuttled by Abate due to concerns that her senior members would perceive it as a reduction in money available to them for increases.

“She comes at the role with an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, like a Yankees vs. Red Sox mentality,” said another source who was involved in the negotiations. “This never intellectually registered for me, because it’s not as if Hopkinton as a district is not supportive of their teachers.”

On April 17, Abate gave an interview to GBH Boston, providing commentary on the outcome of the Newton teacher’s 11-day strike earlier this year. Two months earlier a judge ruled the strike illegal, ordering the teachers to pay $625,000 in restitution.

Abate heaped praise on the striking teachers, telling GBH “What Andover and Newton got, especially the parental leave, was jaw-dropping for my members. It didn’t seem like it was in the realm of possibility, so we are going to ask for more than we would have before.

She also mentioned that while a strike was possible in Hopkinton, she saw it as a “last resort

Abate’s comments have led some to speculate that she’s telegraphing a possible strike to her members, and with Hopkinton ranked the #1 public school district in the state, it’s unclear if town leaders would hold the line or simply capitulate to the union’s demands. Approximately 72% of the town’s operating budget and debt service goes to support the schools.

Given the tidal wave of political change that occurred in our town the past few weeks, it would be unsurprising to many if Hopkinton teachers chose to follow the voter’s lead and elect new leadership.

* 5/28/2024 8:35 PM: Mr. Scott McLennan, Communications Specials at Massachusetts Teachers Association, wrote in to confirm that the MTA did not provide guidance on the recent HTA election, which operated autonomously. The story has been corrected.

Sunnyside Gardens

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    • You know what? I disagree. It’s tabloid journalism. And when I post my comments about my opinion about their poor journalism, hopnews just won’t publish the comments. LOL. Hopnews only posts comments from people who think their work is “great”.

  1. Just a quick comment about the cost of living raises and average salaries. The $50,000 figure mentioned in the article seems designed to point out that Hopkin teachers are paid very well. While they are compensated better than many other districts, $50,000 is still less than average for teachers in Massachusetts.

    In addition, on several sites, Hopkinton is often listed as one of the top 10 most affluent towns in Massachusetts. However, in terms of per-pupil expenditure, it is in the bottom 15%, with 352 districts and private schools listed as spending more, and 48 that spend less. (https://profiles.doe.mass.edu/statereport/ppx.aspx.) Yet Hopkinton consistently rates as excellent among Massachusetts school districts. It is an unbelievable bargain the people of Hopkinton are receiving. And it’s not that the teachers are asking for a lot more in salary. For the most part they are asking for more special ed and other personnel that they are sorely lacking.

    • The $50,000 threshold was arbitrary, and we created this to exclude any part-time workers (substitutes). In essence, the average teacher makes $97k in total compensation. The highest paid teacher (Garrett Sawyer) makes $143,861.

  2. The ongoing employment of this woman at Hopkinton Public Schools despite years of endangering the safety and wellbeing of children raises serious concerns.

  3. Also, as far as I can see from a quick look (and unless I misunderstand) in 2022, approx. 55% was spent on the school system, not 72%. As I said, it was a quick look on my part. If I am misunderstanding something, and someone else can explain the 72% figure in the article, I would gladly back off of that one.

    • Mike — I just want to take a moment to acknowledge how refreshing it is to have someone like you share information you’ve researched, share your comments and ask questions in such a non-confrontational way.

      We should all (myself included) take a page from your book! Plus, your questions and the HOPNEWS STAFF’S responses give us more insight and understanding of specific things stated.

      I’ve also come to appreciate that the “investigation-type” of articles from HOPNEWS would not be published without vetting all the info first. I’ve also seen HOPNEWS respond to commenters who state an error and HOPNEWS thanked the reader and changed it.

      By now, I know I can trust that HOPNEWS isn’t out to promote a political agenda or have to follow a financially-influenced style of reporting. It’s a relief to have things called out for what they are, and make us question what we as a community will or will no longer accept.

      While I may have strayed a little from my initial intention, I’ll say it again — thank you for the reminder that we SHOULD question things, and it can be a valuable, non-confrontational exchange of info that benefits everyone!

  4. Abate was the individual who spoke very loudly about Ashley Fogg being associated with “Mom’s for Liberty” and specifically told a story about Ashley Fogg asking for “And Tango Makes Three” to be removed from the classroom library of her young child. This was seconded by Darlene Hayes and others within the Hopkinton social media sphere.

    Ashley Fogg never denied any of these claims and specifically removed and shut down anyone who spoke with those concerns. This led to a lot of concern and animosity.

    If Abate is anti-democratic, perhaps bricks should be thrown in another direction…

    • The second statement is entirely untrue. I vehemently denied any involvement with the ‘Moms of Liberty’ or knowledge of the book ‘And a Tango Makes Three’ prior to its mention. My concerns were solely about curriculum choices, as clearly expressed on my campaign page. Your remarks are entirely baseless.

    • Hi Enough is Enough …
      I am not following. Who are “bricks” supposed to be thrown at?
      Fogg has repeatedly denied this claim, had not heard of this book (or the moms for Liberty) at the time this allegation was made and has suffered immensely as a result of this misinformation continuing to persist. I can tell you that I personally communicated with Ms. Abate regarding this very issue and was told that “the source” could not be revealed – whoever started this rumor has been protected. I was concerned that the HDTC and Abate had colluded to defame Fogg and her campaign – a claim that has been denied.
      You share this allegation as fact, which is precisely why this article is so important. The damage to an individual’s reputation is quite significant and may impact the ability to volunteer, secure employment or result in a tarnished reputation in town. Abate and many others owe Fogg an apology. There is no evidence that Fogg was behind banning ANY book and certainly not “Tango Makes Three.”
      I do not know the dynamics of your family, but I have to tell you that these false claims have been personally upsetting to mine. The Foggs live their lives in service to those who are most neglected by our society. And they have vehemently supported me and my family – the LGBTQ issues being closest to my heart.
      I have purchased this “banned book” and will be donating it to the library with a dedication to the Fogg family.

      • Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. I should figure that.

        Abate was the individual who proclaimed this very loudly. Ashley may have denied it, but it wasn’t widely discussed. The second statement is based on my extensive experience within that discussion.

        If these allegations were profoundly untrue, Abate was being anti-democratic and should be taken down as an antidemocratic agitator. Their actions are intended to stop the democratic process and I’m strongly against any disruption to antidemocratic actors.

        Try reading my post next time before insulting.

    • You coming on here to say this is:
      A. embarrassing
      B. FALSE
      C. DH has ZERO credibility (which persona of hers are you talking about?)

      You write, “This was seconded by Darlene Hayes and others within the Hopkinton social media sphere,” as if social media is a credible, factual source of information FOR ANYONE. Are you serious? When in doubt, ask the person, which is Ashley, about what she said vs. what was spewed on the socials by Becky, DH and others.

      You participating in this discussion and defending BA while tossing in DH as another credible source is ridiculous on the most basic level. Do your homework and use critical thinking next time around.

      • Try reading the post.

        A) Abate proclaimed this information.
        B) The information may not be true.
        C) Abate coordinated with Hayes to spread this.
        D) Abate should be viewed as a antidemocratic agitator like Hayes.

        Did everyone stop reading critically once soundbites became the norm?

        • Multiple people were confused by your comment – it was why I asked for clarification. I wasn’t sure why we were throwing bricks or where we were throwing them. The points were unclear.
          I am going to be honest: I am not sure it was Abate who said the title of the book nor do I think she proclaimed as fact that Fogg was a “mom for liberty” … that was just an insult. Additionally, to my knowledge there is no evidence that Abate and Hayes colluded – it was a question many asked but it was flatly denied.
          Even Fogg’s assertion that the whole rumor is because of a private (and confidentially protected) conversation about curriculum is frankly a best guess. I do not think it is entirely clear who is responsible for starting this rumor but we know it was spread across multiple social media sites and campaign pages by a select group of individuals and it continues to persist.
          I really appreciate folks from all perspectives agreeing that what was done to Fogg is not in line with our community standards. We can do better. Thank you for clarifying your position Enough is Enough.

          • Abate directly told me that Ashley Fogg tried to remove “And Tango Makes Three” in a conversation where LGBTQ issues were discussed. Abate directly told me that Ashley Fogg was a member of “Moms for Liberty” and showed me a screenshot that had that information.

            I disagree with the actions against Ashley Fogg. I would not support her, but I do not agree with the lies that Darlene Hayes and Becky Abate proclaimed.

        • Oh yes, it’s everyone else that’s the problem, not Y-O-U. You, who has in the past screamed the F-word at children. You who accused all of us as being fascists because you actually gobbled up and believed all the B.S. that Abate and DH were dishing out to you. You who advocated for throwing rocks and water bottles at Ashley. Your post above reads as if bricks should now be thrown at Ashley, which, considering your comments from last year, would be consistent. It sounds like you meant for it to mean that bricks should be thrown at Becky. Just remember that you were carrying their (DH& Abate) torch last year. We certainly do.

          • People are allowed to take in new information and adjust accordingly. I learned about the actions of Hayes and Abate and I have adjusted accordingly.

            Reasonable people learn from new information and do not pledge fealty to false idols.

  5. How on earth can we employ someone with a confirmed documented past of bullying children?? She does not belong in Hopkinton public schools period, nevermind the HTA. What a despicable person.

  6. As someone relatively new to the Hopkinton political scene, I continue to be astonished, (though my surprise is diminishing with each passing week unfortunately) at how poorly the liberal lynch mob treated Mrs. Fogg during last years election. She has been treated with a vile and malevolent torrent of lies simply because she disagreed with the status quo. She clearly would have been the better choice for School Committee.

    And for the record, school districts across the country have had a healthy and mature debate about what materials are allowed in the classroom, particularly for age sensitive material. Do a quick google search about “Huck Finn” and public schools, or ” To Kill a Mocking Bird” and public schools. You will see that many school unions and school committee types have had discussions about content of books without being called book “banners”. If polled, would the Hopkinton teachers unanimously consent to keeping Huck Finn in the curriculum or would they unanimously vote to ban it? I suppose it would not be 100% in either direction on that vote, there would be some disagreement, and that’s ok. Would Mrs. Abate condemn the dissenters as book banners and suggest their kids go elsewhere? If someone asked a question about whether materials from the Bible or the Quran should be extensively displayed in school vis-a-vis separation of the church/state debate…..would that not be a valid discussion point? A discussion point that could be had intellectually and maturely? Or, would you simply be dismissed as a book banner? I am not advocating one way or the other…..but simply making the case that the conversation can and should be had without name calling and condemning someone else as a book banner who should move to Florida. Maybe the Sunshine State can help broaden Mrs. Abate’s horizons after all.

    • There is a difference between teaching a book within the curriculum and removing it from a library.

      A public school library should carry a copy of The Bible.
      A public school should not teach The Bible as part of the general curriculum.

      Likewise, having “Gender Queer: A Memoir” as part of the curriculum isn’t a good idea, but removing it from the library would be unacceptable (for me).

  7. I can’t say I am surprised by the new allegations regarding Ms. Abate considering her past unprofessional behavior. I find her conduct unbecoming of an educator, particularly one in such top rated district, and I sincerely hope that she is removed from HPS.

  8. How has she been able to keep her job? That’s obviously a rhetorical question.

    This woman from all accounts seems deplorable (borrowing language from the Dem playbook).
    This town deserves better. We don’t want a person such as this anywhere near our kids. No town would. She needs to go. Immediately.

  9. The HPS administration has informed concerned parents that they will not terminate Ms. Abate due to her threats to involve the Massachusetts Teacher Association, fearing a lawsuit. Removing her from her position as HTA President would eliminate the leverage she holds over HPS through union protections and require her to adhere to the Hopkinton teachers’ code of conduct.

    • I believe this is non-factual information. As does any administration, there is a strict confidentiality regarding HR concerns and does not disclose any specific staff member’s information to the public. While there may be discussions about general or similar situations, the administration is committed to protecting individual privacy and will not share personal details publicly.

  10. As a student council member to which she is currently head of, many students as well as myself believe Ms. Abate’s continuous attitude to be unbecoming of an educator. Both my elder sister and friend’s older brother have said that when she was their teacher, she’d use harsh criticism, show favoritism, and make learning extremely difficult, to the point where my sister no longer enjoyed English class. She’d often hyper focus on small details in books such as “To Kill A Mockingbird,” to the point where it was hard to do well on tests that asked questions about said details. Furthermore, in Student Council, the club is supposed to allow children to learn how to take charge, but oftentimes Ms. Abate makes the decisions and reuses the same ideas from previous years. Her teachings also differ from the ways I’ve been taught in earlier grades, according to my sister. She is a strict grader, and encourages the use of weak words and introductions in essays such as “Firstly” or “In conclusion”. If these are not used, the student is more likely to get a lower grade. I do not believe she should continue to be an educator in HPS for the safety and well-being of the ones who attend, and she has proven time and time again to be undeserving of her job.

    • Dear Concerned Student:
      Very brave of you to come to this forum to share your story.
      I am so sorry that you, your siblings and your friends have all been treated so terribly. This woman does NOT belong in education. Inmates in prisons get treated better and with more respect! Now, I’m really upset as I imagine others will be as well after reading your post. I will be calling the superintendent.

      • Agreed Mr. Scanlon. The fact that current students are piping up with their opinions must tell you how bad this teacher is in the classroom. Not an easy decision for a young student. Kudos for your bravery Concerned Student.

    • Furthermore, during the “To Kill a Mockingbird” unit she would read the n-word outloud and make disrespectful comments like “go ahead you can laugh now, just like when your favorite rappers say it”.

  11. When one of my kids was in 8th grade and they were going on the 8th grade field trip somewhere, she announced, “the popular kids will be on MY bus,” and that’s all I needed to know to realize she must have some deep-seeded issues to want to be aligned with the 8th grade “popular kids!” 😂

    I also made a note to be sure none of my other kids would be in her class.

  12. Im sorry but I think she earned the character assassination and that it’s long overdue. Her actions have been left unchecked for far too long. She has been confirmed to spread lies – see EIE’s comment above – is vindictive, and bullies Children! The peanut and field hockey stories are unreal and I’m sure there are others. Unfortunately being a union president doesn’t protect her from the court of public opinion.

  13. Ms. Abate has used her position of power to treat students and other members of the Hopkinton Public Schools staff poorly. I recall being a student in the eighth grade, not having her as a teacher but encountering her in the hallways and had friends in her classes. She would frequently be in the hallways during class time and not teaching her class. Why is she not teaching her class? Not to mention the incident with nuts that was brought up in the article, because that happened on more than one occasion whilst I was a student. It was also very evident, even as someone who wasn’t in her class that she had favorite students, and they were primarily males. She would never forgive students, even one simple mistake and they would be considered “trouble”. I remember her emailing a friend of mines parents almost every day about simple mistakes, such as talking. Her words of criticism are not constructive or helpful, they were just plain mean. Causing students to feel unsafe in their school environment, which is extremely wrong. No student should feel anxious to go to school, especially because of a teacher. I have never encountered another member of my class that has had a positive experience with her and have had multiple friends who have been or almost been brought to tears because of her. Another friend of mine also recalls her time on Student Council, which Ms. Abate is in charge of. Student Council is an opportunity where students elect representatives to help support their ideas for the school and events. However, using her power, Ms. Abate would come up with and recycle ideas instead of letting the representatives make their own decisions. Besides just students, she also makes other teachers and faculty members uncomfortable. I remember once overhearing her making fun of another teachers outfit to her face, and the teacher seemed visibly upset by this and asked us, the students, if something was wrong with her outfit. She would also constantly blow situations way out of proportion and make things a bigger deal then they really were. Ms. Abate is not just a ‘tough love’ kind of teacher but outright a bully, using the imbalance of power to make students feel inferior. This is not right. Her actions will not change unless she is held accountable. The horrors from the Field Hockey team are enough for everyone to recognize this woman is not suited to be an educator. These harsh words i’ve said are nothing compared to the insults she has hurled on thirteen and fourteen year olds. Just because you are out of the experience doesn’t mean memories won’t stay with you, and unfortunately, memories of this woman can’t seem to leave the minds of current Hopkinton High School Students. I don’t want my siblings to endure the trauma she brings as they move through our district. Hopkinton Public Schools need to do something about this. instead of continuing being a bystander, watching a grown woman bully young adults.

    • I agree with everything ”Former Student (Currently at HHS)” said, and I have witnessed the manner in which she acts as described in the comment. This pattern of behavior is highly inappropriate, and I greatly wish that she no longer work at HPS. Many people, including a friend’s sibling, has described some of her remarks as racist and insensitive during the “To Kill A Mockingbird” unit. I’ve seen her in the hall speaking with the more popular girls, and on one occasion she stopped in the middle of the exit to a parking lot to speak with some of these popular girls. The favoritism she displays is very upsetting, and I hope she realizes how her words have greatly impacted those she’s taught. She should not be treating her students in such an unfair way, and the insults she spews is appalling; I’m hopeful that this is the final straw and she will finally be fired from Hopkinton Middle School, but if enough people protest, I believe we can guarantee the riddance of Ms. Abate. I’m sure there are other English teachers who’d be able to take her place, but if not there are enough substitutes to temporarily take her job until another, more suitable teacher is found.


    Yes, that is a comment that Ms. Abate made in my classroom when I was an eighth grade student in her class. This was aimed at a student who volunteered to write on the whiteboard during class, and she shouted insults at them as they participated. Furthermore, they were the only one standing at the front of the room, and were subjected to the humiliation in front of the entire class.

    If you’re reading these comments, wondering if Ms. Abate’s appalling behavior could possibly be true, I can tell you firsthand that it is. I was a member of her English class, and many of her actions raised eyebrows among me and my fellow students. One of the incidents that immediately shocked me and my friends was her flippant use of the n-word during our To Kill a Mockingbird unit. Rather than say “the n-word” or use an audiobook of an African American person reading it, she would pick passages containing the n-word and then make inappropriate jokes after reading it. Another concerning yet frequent occurrence was her strange preference for befriending the “popular” boys, particularly jocks. She would make unprofessional comments towards them and attempt to join their friend groups and conversations, which is disturbing enough by itself, but also showed an extreme bias when if came to upholding rules and punishments. Often, when they came to class late or talked during class, she would smile and teasingly redirect them. When it was someone else, such as a more quiet student, she was typically harsh and downright mean. In fact, I know students who were so upset by her reprimands and insults that they were driven to tears. Her sense of humor isn’t teasing or even taunting, it’s simply bullying students. I’ve watched her make fun of people’s outfits, hair, or spelling mistakes. I began to keep track of her cruel comments in a document, and they are flat-out horrible. She is not fit to be in a classroom where she can wield her authority as a weapon and use it to bully young middle schoolers. Glad I’m not in her class anymore!

    • As a HMS graduate myself, I also witnessed this appalling behavior in the classroom firsthand. Ms. Abate would say things to the so-called “popular” boys like that they were “catches” and that she “bets they get all the girls”. They would also get better treatment/grades than any of the other boys. If Ms. Abate didn’t pick you to be one of her favorites, boy or girl, you were screwed for 8th grade English.

  15. Rebecca Abate—what can we say about her? Most students in her class felt unsafe, and she made no effort to change that. How can someone who bullies their own students still be called a teacher? She showed no regard for their feelings or opinions, always putting her own needs above theirs. Despite not even living in this town, Ms. Abate frequently commented on it. But when it came to teaching, she fell short. Half the time, she wasn’t even present in the classroom, preferring to delve into personal matters rather than focusing on English lessons. Her teaching standards were subpar, setting her students up for failure. Rigging elections was just another example of her reprehensible behavior. If she remains in a position of authority in our town, who knows what other harm she might cause?

    Why haven’t these students been heard? Or have they been afraid to speak up because they fear her personal attacks on people?

    Who is in charge of allowing her to remain in our school system if this is what’s happening in the classroom? Seriously asking this.

    Her unacceptable actions with this rigged election and her attacks against adults are a huge issue; however, when the students are sharing the reality of what they are experiencing in the classroom — this crosses the line.

    What are the options? Is this a legal matter? Superintendent matter? Principal?

  17. Wow…… the student commentary is quite stunning. If this is not an indictment of this teacher, I don’t know what is. I hope any students affected by her behavior feel free to speak up without fear of reprisal. It is your right to do so. You will be protected.

    Will be interesting to see if this gets on the superintendent’s radar.

    • Well, we actually don’t know for certain who posted these comments…it’s the internet-and people make up names all the time.

  18. Becky Abate embodies a multitude of qualities. She’s undoubtedly intelligent, brimming with innovative ideas tailored for her classrooms, continually pushing the boundaries to enhance student learning. Her pedagogical insights are truly remarkable. However, alongside these commendable traits, she carries a demeanor that can be described as abrasive, often wielding harmful language and extending help selectively, primarily for her own benefit. This stark contrast is evident to both students and fellow educators alike.

    As a union president, can she effectively accomplish tasks? Undoubtedly. Yet, her approach lacks universality, skewing towards favoritism rather than equitable distribution of aid. The question arises: can others replicate her actions? It remains uncertain. Undeniably, she wields power unapologetically, unashamed of her forthrightness. This assertiveness proved instrumental in securing necessary resources for special education teachers last year. However, her actions are not consistently fair or amicable. Many are disenchanted with her coercive tactics; fear pervades among teachers due to her intimidating presence.

    During the recent election, teachers observed her acute awareness of real-time voting patterns, leaving them to ponder: did she also know their individual voting inclinations? The lingering intimidation stemming from years of endured mistreatment is palpable. A recent email disseminated by the HTA, while purportedly representing teachers, drew widespread embarrassment as it failed to resonate with the majority.

    Such instances of overreach are unacceptable and demand cessation.

  19. As a parent of a former student of Ms. Abate and a current middle schooler on student council I can confirm what her former students are saying is true. My child has voiced frustration as a current student council member that their ideas were not heard and Ms. Abate just does what she wants to do. My other child reported when they were a student of hers she would often insult students amongst their peers. She would instill her political bias into her teaching and tell students they were wrong if they offered a different opinion. There was also suspicion among students that she rigged freshman class elections in 8th grade as she favored the popular kids. Let’s also add the countless stories of her being insensitive to students with life threatening allergies. I wouldn’t be bashing her if administration had taken some action with my concerns. This is not someone I can support as the head of HTA nor as a teacher in our schools. Thank you HopNews for this article and giving us a place to sound off our concerns.

    • So true! In my experience, if you didn’t agree with her analysis of an excerpt or book chapter, you were wrong. I had multiple ideas that other students agreed were insightful and Ms. Abate shut down everything I said since it didn’t agree with how she perceived the book.

  20. Rebecca Abate has been a steadfast supporter for teachers and educators across the district in her time serving the HTA. Contract negotiations, budget seasons, COVID, last year’s proposed cuts to the special education staff, all of it and more. She’s gone to bat for Hopkinton teachers time and again. It’s very discouraging as a union supporter to see HTA members (outside of VP Jordan’s official statement) cited in this blog post.

    • @COMMENT: you can be a steadfast supporter of your constituents and an excellent negotiator WITHOUT BULLYING CHILDREN. That’s where you lose me, and I’m shocked that the teachers of Hopkinton are willing to turn a blind eye.
      This is so utterly shameful on so many levels. These kid’s comments are a shock to me.

  21. I totally agree this is accurate content. Thank you for covering such important information. Why is this just being covered now? I would’ve appreciated this being covered years ago.

  22. This article is supposed to be about information regarding the HTA election. Maybe 10% of the article is about the topic at hand. 90% of the article consists of personal attacks on Mrs. Abate. While it is not only rude and disrespectful, it is also completely irrelevant and unwarranted.

    This article shows a lot about HopNews, a site that once considered itself a news outlet, but proves to now just be a politicized blog which welcomes inflammatory comments as a way of getting attention.

    • This seems like a solid news article to me. The article discusses a topic and then provides additional context (including facts) to support the topic. I do not see personal attacks within the article. The reality is that the individual at the center of this story has acted in ways that are unbecoming of their profession and leadership role. It’s OK to write about it and it’s even more OK for concerned citizens to discuss it. Respectfully, if you do not like the content of the article, perhaps speak with the subject of the article in the hopes of changing their negative, problematic behavior.

    • How is this article biased in any way? There is nothing political about it.

      The additional information provided in the article and the subsequent comments are entirely relevant. They speak to the character of this woman, who has a long history of bullying both students and parents in Hopkinton. Numerous parents have reported this teacher to the HPS administration, but their concerns have been ignored.

      This teacher has bullied, slandered, and defamed adults in our town. She has also bullied and endangered students.

      If you don’t consider this relevant, in addition to her alleged manipulation of an election to maintain her power, you should reconsider.

    • Thanks for the comment, Hopkinton Independent. It sounds like the personal attacks are warranted based on what is coming out about her. The fact that the above teacher can read all of those comments from students and then make THAT comment? And you keep asking for more money? Wow.

    • Abate has become a public figure within Hopkinton. Actions by public figures is an acceptable discussion topic in most places. No one is saying “Abate smells!” or “Their hair is stupid!” Nor is anyone commenting on actions that have occured like “We had a conversation and they didn’t smile enough!”

      The discussion has been around public statements and public actions. Statements about individuals involved in political actions which were given as her position as a member of the Hopkinton Teachers Associate and actions she took/is taking as a member of the Hopkinton Public School.

      What parts of the article and/or discussion do you find to be personal attacks which are rude and disrespectful?

    • Given the testimonies from past and current students I don’ know how this can be considered unwarranted. Teachers abusing the power dynamic in their classroom has always been and will always be wrong.

  23. I disagree. The information provided is 100% relevant and warranted.

    I think that anyone with a student at HMS – and especially anyone with a student in her class – should be on the phone to the Superintendent and the School Committee asking why and how she is still employed by HPS.

    I’m so sorry to all those she has hurt. I appreciate your brave posts. 😞

  24. I am a current student of Abate, I can say that these commments are true. She has been extremely bias with her grading throughout the year. The Popular students get better grades because they are popular. They also get more attention as she frequently talks to them. Throughout the year she has critizised my work and always commented on my writing style. She also graded my essays worse because of who I am. SHe realy takes the first impressions. If you dont become one of her “favorites” on the first day you are screwed. 8th grade has been terrible in Her class. I hope she gets fired. I also hope this reaches the superintendent.

  25. Wow, very concerning behavior by Ms. Abate. Seems like she is going way too far if what A FORMER HOPKINTON STUDENT, and the others who posted said is true. Some of the comments directed towards students appear to be very close to crossing the line. All of you students are to be commended for writing your concerns here. I would certainly bring your notes, concerns or ‘proof’ of what has been happening to someone with a position of authority in town who can be trusted and will look into these allegations. Ms. Abate needs to be removed from the classroom.

  26. I think what concerns me is that this feels like a slippery slope. As outrageous as these accusations are, they are (currently) just that-accusations. What is to protect any teacher in town from becoming the subject of a similar campaign? It seems like this forum has become a safe place for people to make accusations that may or may not be founded in truth but will absolutely have lasting implications. We pride ourselves on having a top ranking school district with the best teachers. Are those teachers going to want to stay in a school system where something like a private election (because as much as we might feel like we have a say in this, none of us can vote in this union election) can turn into this?

    • I know for certain that some of your best teachers left because of pushy parents and the nasty comments people make about teachers in this town without having all the facts. Hopkinton is a wealthy town and some parents seem to think that they “own” the teachers. But teachers can and do move to better districts because they’re sick of the crap they have to put up with.


    We have banned the comments from a reader who posted under “Reply” and “Anonymous”, using 4 different email addresses. The use of pseudonyms to hijack the comment thread will not be tolerated on this site.

  28. Ms. Abate has impacted my life and inspired me to challenge myself academically. She is by far my favorite teacher I’ve ever had and has encouraged me to work to be the best student I can be. She makes her lessons involving, and lets her kids try to learn in the ways that work best for them. For example, to practice Shakespeare literature we went outside and did a play, and in class, she lets kids go on walks and does movement breaks. I look forward to her class every day, and she has helped me and so many others grow as students.

    • Did she pay you off to write this? Did she offer extra credit? Are you Ms. Abate? Notice how the only people praising her or invalidating the traumatic experiences of other students are parents who are calling it a “character assassination”. Obviously everyone is entitled to their own opinion and freedom of speech (despite what i’m convinced Ms. Abate thinks) but I find it funny that people are commenting on what could be traumatic experiences for past students as someone who has never experienced it first hand. If how you and the person who stated to “free Ms. Abate with completely improper grammar (clearing demonstrating her amazing teaching skills) good for you. You’re a favorite I guess? I genuinely hope you have a good experience. But from what I hear? Shes still the demon all this former students of Hopkinton Middle School are making her out to be, and i’ve heard this from students and parents. I truly just don’t understand how anyone could want someone in this top rated school system to make jokes about racial slurs and turn her classroom into a popularity contest but again, just my opinion.

      • There were at a quick first count, at least seven errors in your short post. These errors included misspellings, lack of punctuation, and periods falling outside of quotation marks, among others.

        If you insist on calling out others on their poor writing skills, and suggest that it was their English teacher’s fault and not the fact that they may have written it in a hurry, you might want to proofread your own entries from time to time.

        • This person also was not the one just praising their english teacher for her teaching skills. Oh and on a side note, I don’t think “Sayin” is grammatically correct either.

          • In an informal piece of writing sayin’ is acceptable when the apostrophe is added to symbolize the missing letter.

            But nice try.

            I figured somebody would scour my post looking for an error, and that’s the best you could come up with?

            Man, are we off topic. Sorry ‘bout that. (See what I did with the apostrophe there?)

      • You’re arguing online with a 14 year old. Get a life. Come out from behind a keyboard and make statements at a town forum or from somewhere that is not mom’s basement. If a student speaks the. as an adult you should listen. This is their experience and they have every right to be heard.

  29. Wow! And the most interesting question of all is: After all of these facts come to light, will there by any consequences? Hoppy is doubtful. The field hockey incident alone is horrendous, but alas, the record is now “sealed” and Ms. Abate got off with voluntarily “quitting”. Hoppy is betting that nothing will change. Abate will keep her job, because it is a sad fact of life that teachers’ unions will fight to the death any attempt to remove a bad teacher. Why? Sadly, Hoppy doesn’t know why. But this is an all-too-common occurrence. And the Hopkinton teachers will probably elect her again as union president because she is a “fighter”. Forget about the students. It is all about who can be the most aggressive leader and extract the most money from the town, even if they insult everyone in sight along the way. It is all about the ends justifying the means, just like setting up multiple email accounts and pretending to be a horde of different people.

    Hoppy also LOVES the response from some of these commenters, who are employing a common tactic whenever HopNews exposes yet another scandal in this town: Shoot the messenger. “Oh, it is just that evil rag HopNews spreading gossip again!” Yeah, right. Nothing to see here. Everything’s fine. Ms. Abate will get the teachers their money, and send Hopkinton even further down the road to the massive tax increases that lie ahead. Oh, and by the way, Hoppy is a former college math professor who loves and supports education and educators. But not this one.

    • Wow.

      You mean she is doing her job as union president? Huh. Go figure.

      It must be nice to have complete job security, and never be in need of a raise.

      How on earth can you even suggest that you “love and support educators“ after all of the bile you just spat forth in your entry?

      By the way, why is Hoppy referring to Hoppy’s self in the third person? I wonder if Hoppy has any idea how annoying that is.

      Go ahead Hoppy. Go to town on my reply. I understand.

    • And by the way, if you check one of the really early posts on this thread, You will see that on a per pupil basis, Hopkinton – one of the most affluent towns in the state – comes in the bottom 20% or so among Massachusetts districts and private schools. There were over 300 different districts and schools that spent more on a per-pupil basis than Hopkinton, and only about 45 that spent less. Believe me, we are getting a bargain.

      • If Hopkinton is already ranked as one of the best school districts in the state, why do we need to send more money to the school budget? The results are already good, excellent really. So according to you, we just need to spend more money there because other communities, which underperform Hopkinton, do the same. Not because the increased spending can be yoked to some definable increase in student results. It will only increase teachers benefits, not students. Sounds like Bidenomics logic.

          • Good point Anon…….inflation has run pretty hot the last few years. I forgot that was part of Bidenomics as well. Thanks for the reminder.

        • That was kind of my point when I said we’re getting a real bargain here.

          My other point is that the poster I was responding to was referencing the “massive tax increases that lie ahead.” And I just felt that we can’t complain too much given that we are so low on per pupil expenditure. I just had no idea we were that far down the list.

        • Sam…spoken like someone who has no clue about the reality of public education. The Hopkinton teachers are being squeezed to work harder and longer and they still produce positive results year in and out without going “work to rule” (look it up bud) or letting students suffer in any way. Why? Because they care about the students first. This does not mean they should not be supported properly with higher work standards and it certainly doesn’t mean the school district is top in MA as it is ranked. In The “business world” these types of results would yield bonuses, pay raises etc. But you propose the continue to squeeze milk from a stone. You are also not looking at the student experience one iota. There is a need for more Sped teachers, paras, one to one learning specialists, hands on learning (wood and auto shop electives or the like) for students who are not and should not be college bound. Hopkinton does not provide for all students, but only students that at the top and bottom. Do you even ask or try to know how this #1 rating is reached? It is some equation of graduation %, AP classes taken and offered, and college attendance rate. To but it bluntly these raising show nothing if the true Hopkinton education our students are receiving. We’ve heard of a teacher shortage. The reality is there is no teacher shortage. There is a shortage of teachers willing to continually put up with people like “Sam” and others on the comment thread who do not try to educate themselves or appreciate the service teachers give to your community. Maybe lookup your house on Zillow sam. When you look at that overpriced home you own know good and well that the reason for your high property value is exactly the people you propose to continue to squeeze. The teachers are the reason you’ll make money in your home and why Hopkinton is such a sought after destination. Try not to forget that when it comes to voting for a new school, an increase in teaching staff, more counselors to assist with mental health, or the many other things this district drastically needs. Leave the keyboard Sam. There are real people to talk to that can help you realize what you’re missing.

          • Hate to burst your bubble, “ keeping it real” but I was raised by a high school teacher, who went on to be a high school principal at the later stages of his career and paid for my college education. So, I’m fairly well-versed in the manipulative maneuvers of teachers union politics. This is nothing more than the sour grapes of a floundering democratic party that knows they’ve lost in the court of public opinion. Best of luck in 2024…. The tide has turned……and you’re simply angry at the truth that awaits you. The select board vote is just the start.

          • Sam, the field of education is worlds apart from when your dad was teaching. The conditions have become unbearable. Don’t you read the news? Why do you think teachers are leaving the profession in droves?

            Teachers have to constantly deal with entitled, spoiled, bratty kids and their entitled, spoiled, bratty parents who apparently don’t know how to be a parent.

            The profession has become much more technical over the past 10 years or so. Teachers now have to be psychological counselors, career, advisors, mediators, social-emotional caregivers, mothers and fathers, janitors, bus monitors, enforcers, entertainers, etc.

            I know a teacher who tells me that during lunch periods she walks around, pushing a garbage can so that kids won’t leave their trash all over the place, and will instead hopefully throw it into the garbage can (without saying thank you). She has a masters degree, and this is what her job has become.

            Teachers deserve everything they can get.

            And by the way, believe it or not, you don’t have to argue this. It’s OK for you to simply read it and say to yourself, “Oh. I guess I didn’t realize how bad it had become.“ Really. You can actually have some empathy and still be a good Republican. It’s OK.

  30. I reported her horrible classroom behavior multiple times to the principal and superintendent, and nothing was ever done. She seems to be untouchable. I am sorry to hear she is still bullying students. This has been going on for years! Only showing interest in the popular boys and girls was always her MO. She wanted nothing to do with any student on an IEP either. I hope if she does read these comments, she will realize she has got to change her ways. The fact that she was not disciplined with eating nuts in her classroom with students anaphylactic to nuts is mind-blowing! I can’t believe any teachers who read these comments are still going to bat for her.

  31. Perhaps parents and students now feel empowered enough to voice their concerns to DESE. Multiple complaints about a pattern of troubling unprofessional behavior done by the same teacher surely should warrant DESE’s closer look into Ms. Abate’s track record. If DESE does its job, the District should end up having to answer some tough questions and might then struggle to look itself in the mirror.

  32. This article and more so the comments are shocking! Middle school years are tough enough and then the kids have to deal with this hag! Our girls didn’t have Ms. Abate (thank god!) but they spoke all about her at dinner last night after we read the article and comments as a family. She has earned quite the reputation… and it isn’t a good one!!

    The school systems and the teacher’s unions here in Massachusetts have become omnipotent, they answer to no one. Ms Abate seems to be the result of this system which is clearly out of control and will be bankrupting towns unless taxpayers wake up.

    Hopefully the school committee, Hopkinton Middle School, and Carol Cavanaugh have read this!

  33. From the attempted character assassination in this article and comments that follow, what has been PROVEN?

    – Abate is a controversial figure in town and with public school higher level administrators
    – seen as a strong teacher’s union president
    – has made herself personally vulnerable to public scrutiny in the name of union president
    – brought nuts to a “no nut” classroom in a closed container
    – made questionable comments to hs students as a field hockey coach
    – is not a warm and fuzzy teacher
    – has students that feel she was tough on them or feel she dislikes them (as does every teacher ever)
    – has parents that dislike her teaching style (as does every teacher ever)
    – has students who feel she is an outstanding teacher
    – no proof or evidence of “rigging” an election as stated in the headline

    From both the article and the comments my OPINION is that this is all driven by politics. From the article itself to the comments it is apparent that this character assassination is driven solely by town politics. The comments quickly disintegrated to talk on what teachers deserve and how to save town $$. No better way than to cut the head of the union snake. Aside from the few student comments and perhaps a few overly emotional parents supporting adolescent hormones and emotions there is no evidence that Abate intentionally or unintentionally put students in danger. Abate has made questionable choices on some comments to students and online posting. She’s made mistakes like a human being would. This is nothing that would warrant disciplinary action or a 51A to be filed with DCF. I am also curious why none of these concerns were brought by students or parents to administrators prior to this article. (Perhaps they have in which case admin will do the due diligence).

    • I can assure you that for YEARS concerns and FACTS (WITH EVIDENCE) of abuse at the hands of Ms. Abate to both students and adults in town have been brought to the administration and they have been ignored.

      Ms. Abate has a known reputation in this town for being a bully. Parents feel hopeless for the administration to actually help.

    • “Keepin it real”, you can confirm that you have zero concerns with any of these students comments and think they are all (dozens of them) doing this to save their parents a few dollars on their tax bill? This may or may not come as a surprise, but people don’t move to or live in Hopkinton to save money. They move to and live in Hopkinton to invest in the schools and their kids education. This is not politically motivated.
      Undermining the people (especially kids) that come forward to report their perceived abuse is reprehensible.

      To the parents and kids that are saying they have reported and have not seen any action:The administration is not turning a blind eye but they need info that they can act on and the more, the better. Send your emails, make your phone calls, book your meetings. They will respond.

  34. @ ALL CURRENT AND FORMER STUDENTS: The HPS Administration needs your testimonials directly from you to include in their investigation and will keep it confidential. Please email them to Kimberly Pulnik at kpulnik@hopkinton.k12.ma.us and copy Dr. Cavanaugh and Matt Lefebvre.

  35. I asked my 8th grader about her as I have no prior knowledge of her. Her response is “everyone loves Ms.Abate- she is great! Food for thought!

  36. I think Mrs abate a good teacher and everyone making her sound bad but she is a much better person than you make her sound in this article


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