The following letter was sent to Ben Herrington, Chair of the Amherst Regional School Committee on July 13, 2023.
In your role as Chair of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, I urge you to convene a meeting of the committee to take a vote to place Superintendent Morris on administrative leave until the conclusion of the current investigations into the grievous harm done to our LGBTQIA middle school students and their families.
It is your job to hire and supervise the Superintendent. It is the Superintendent’s job, above all, to keep our children safe. Children have not been kept safe. The Superintendent is significantly implicated in the harm done to students over a period of many months – by either knowing and not taking action – or inexplicably, not knowing that children were being so grievously harmed. Either way, we see that his direct report Doreen Cunningham is on leave. Three counselors are on leave. Why is Morris not on leave? You have no justification for this. Issues of race are uncomfortably pervasive here — and it has not escaped anyone that the four people on leave are people of color and the one person not on leave is white.
On May 30, the Committee unanimously said:
We are deeply sorry for the pain and harm some individuals, families, and other members of our community have experienced recently, and we know that our words alone are not enough. That is why we are committed to taking the concrete actions available within our purview to ensure that such harm does not continue and is never repeated.
What did you mean by this exactly? What is “within your purview” is to put the Superintendent on administrative leave, effective immediately, while the investigation is ongoing. I understand this is not an easy thing to do. Morris has led our schools for many years and it is hard and unpleasant to take this action against him. No one takes joy in this. Yet, this action has already been taken against the others implicated, rightly so.
Our community is angry and in pain. We are losing confidence in the committee’s leadership.
What are you waiting for?
Kathleen Traphagen is a resident of Amherst.