Barron’s Resignation Explanation Omits Key Detail
Earlier today Marblehead Beacon reported that Emily Barron had submitted her resignation from the Marblehead School Committee. According to a letter filed with the Town Clerk, her reason for doing so involved the inability to resolve conflicts between her professional responsibilities and her duties as an elected official, leaving her with "no choice but to resign." As Marblehead Beacon reported last week, a complaint had been recently filed against Barron with the Massachusetts State Ethics Board regarding a conflict of interest in her representation of a client before the Zoning Board of Appeals. Barron’s client was engaged in a dispute with a neighbor about a proposed addition, and the neighbor works as a school employee.
Marblehead Beacon recently learned that there may be more to this story. Barron is not a licensed architect, which requires–among other things–the passing of at least six board-certification exams and state licensing. Nevertheless, she has publicly represented herself on several occasions as an “architect” or as an “architectural designer,” the latter of which she had listed as her occupation on her LinkedIn account earlier this week, but changed to simply "designer" following our outreach to her. The two screen shots are shown below. Such representations–particularly “architect”–are considered verboten by state and national licensing boards, and are apparently well understood in architectural circles to be avoided at all costs. Massachusetts General Law Part 1, Title XVI, Section 60K, reads:
“No person shall, directly or indirectly, engage in the practice of architecture in this commonwealth, except as hereinafter set forth in section sixty L, or use the title ''architect'', ''registered architect'', ''architectural designer'', or display or use any words, letters, figures, title, sign, card, advertisement or other device to indicate that such person offers to engage or engages in the practice of architecture unless he is registered under the provisions of sections sixty A to sixty O, inclusive.”
In a screenshot of a Wicked Local article from more than two years ago, shown below, Barron self-identifies as an “architect/mom.” In a screen shot from the Town of Marblehead’s website, also shown below, she self-identifies as a “residential architect practicing in Marblehead.” However, state licensing records do not indicate that Barron has officially earned these designations. We reached out to Barron last week seeking clarification but, as with other outreach attempts for our past reporting, she did not respond. Barron’s Facebook page has a publicly-viewable approximately two-minute video that was posted in May of 2020 in which she twice refers to herself as an architect. This is a small segment from parts of that video in which she does so.
Marblehead Beacon spoke with Jared Zurn, Vice President for Examination with the National Association of Architectural Registration Boards. He told us that all states prohibit representing oneself as an architect until becoming licensed. In addition, Massachusetts has both a Title Act and a Practice Act, which, he says, are designed to protect members of the public from individuals who improperly practice as architects but also to protect against those presenting themselves as architects publicly. “The whole point of licensure,” Zurn said, “is to protect the public.” One gets credibility they have not earned, he suggested, “when they incorrectly say, ‘I’m an architect’ before they’re licensed, even if it’s not said to a potential client.”
If one wishes to demonstrate his or her knowledge of architecture prior to taking and passing the required board exams and receiving one’s state license, Zurn added, “they can say ‘I’m an architectural licensure candidate,’ or ‘I’m on the licensure path’.”
As of at least 27 months ago, Barron was referring to herself publicly as an architect, including in campaign materials. According to all available records, she remains unlicensed.
Editor’s Note: Jennifer Schaeffner, a founding member and reporter for Marblehead Beacon, served as a member of the Marblehead School Committee from 2016 to 2020. In one of her election runs Emily Barron was her opponent.