The Amherst Pelham Education Association (APEA) announced on Saturday (5/13) that their membership voted overwhelmingly to issue a letter of no confidence in School Superintendent Mike Morris and Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity and Human Resources Doreen Cunningham. The letter faults both for their roles in creating and perpetuating the current crisis at the Amherst Regional Middle School (ARMS) citing the following reasons for loss of confidence..
- Failure to properly supervise the district offices and people in his employ, especially the supervision of Ms. Cunningham.
- Failure to promptly deal with complaints of anti-LGBTQIA+ behavior on the part of some staff, which has created an unsafe environment for children, especially those whose identities are marginalized.
- Failure to collaborate with staff in planning how to support positive leadership in our schools.
- Unethical hiring practices.Use of position of professional power to enrich self on school time.
- Acting in ways that undermine the district’s stated mission of equity and excellence.
- Unsafe environment, where people do not come forward out of fear.
- Toxic work environment that stifles open communication and collaboration.
The letter goes on to state that the actions of Morris and Cunningham:
- Harm students.
- Have led to a decline in employee engagement and motivation.
- Have a negative effect on our district’s ability to promote and maintain an environment that supports our mission of equity and excellence.
- Create toxic work conditions where staff well-being is declining.
The letter further calls for or the immediate resignation of Cunningham and an investigation into the leadership of Morris. The letter adds ” to aid in this investigation, you should know that all of these assertions are verifiable; each one has someone willing to come forward and attest to their veracity”.
In a separate press release dated May 13, the APEA stated the following”
“The APEA wishes Dr. Michael Morris well as he takes time off from his Superintendent position. We support Dr. Morris taking steps in order to be healthy. ALL staff and students deserve to work and learn in a school environment in which their mental health needs are respected. Unfortunately, for many staff and students, this has not been the case for several years in the district. Problems have been allowed to fester under his and Assistant Superintendent Doreen Cunningham’s leadership. Superintendent Morris’ decision to go on leave occurred as educators in the district voted overwhelmingly this week that they have no confidence in the leadership of both the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. [see attachment]”
“The School Committee has been inattentive as it failed, as a body, to hold district leadership accountable for many staff and student complaints. One school committee member went as far as to refer to staff as a “toxic rumor mill” during a School Committee meeting for speaking up to protect our students. The staff at the Middle School are still waiting for an apology from Peter Demling.
Our district needs change, our students need change, and our educators need change. The no confidence vote urges the ARPS School Committee to investigate Michael Morris and seek the resignation of Doreen Cunningham. “