The following was submitted as a written public comment to the Regional School Committee on May 15, 2023
It is my hope that by the time the meeting happens that these comments will be moot – that you will have done the right things.
However, lacking confidence in this body to listen to the voices in the schools and community when concerns are raised, it is necessary to remind you again of your duty to protect and support students.
You must appoint an impartial individual, untainted by the current allegations or the Title IV investigation, as the interim superintendent.
You must ask for the resignation of the current assistant superintendent. The APEA’s vote of no confidence is astounding in its solidarity- that means at least 80% of the union members, district-wide, were engaged in the vote, and of those, at least 80% voted to demand the resignation of the assistant superintendent and an investigation into the superintendent. That’s the entire district, not just the ARMS teachers. Your responsibility is to the students and their devoted educators- and now you have a mandate.
You must demand a thorough and impartial investigation into hiring practices, financial malfeasance, and abuse of power. The complaints against and alleged involvement of the superintendent and assistant superintendent must be investigated and all malfeasance must be brought into the light.
The gaslighting and diminishing of staff concerns must immediately stop. The district needs to repair the damage that has been done, restore its credibility, and devise a plan to move forward that emphasizes protecting the rights of all students and staff.
The school committee must act to ensure the voices of students and staff are heard and believed. The school committee, especially the Union 26 chair, owes an authentic apology to the educators and families who have been raising concerns and have been accused of creating “a toxic rumor mill.” The toxicity sits in the school committee and the superintendent’s office, not in the community. Guilty people act guilty – and calling the allegations a “witch hunt”, as the superintendent allegedly did, is damning to that office.
The credibility of the entire ARPS leadership has been severely damaged. Both the superintendent and a member of the school committee suggested that parents and staff were lying about the situation at ARMS and about hiring concerns. The Graphic story, where high school students took a risk and demonstrated a deeper commitment to truth and justice than the “adults” in power have done, has uncovered multiple layers of corruption. The school committee must immediately recognize and admit the mistakes made by this body. This committee must commit to considering public input – as parents, staff and students have information, experience, and evidence that this committee seems to be unaware of, or chooses not to know.
The school committee’s inability to come to an agreement on the APEA contract seems even more suspect now, as it is clear that there has been corruption throughout the highest level of the district. The school committee must act immediately to revise your “best and final offer” and in a show of both good faith and a recognition of the deep pile of excrement the staff have been wading through under the leadership of the superintendent and assistant superintendent, agree to the APEA contract as the APEA is asking for it. Nothing less than this will begin the repairs needed.
With rage, and in solidarity with the harmed students and their families, and of course the APEA;
Laura Hunter, parent of an ARMS 7th and 8th grader, and spouse of a long-time educator.