Letter: An Open Letter To The Amherst, Pelham, And Regional School Committees


Recently painted LGBTQIIA flag in the Regional Middle School library. Photo: Alicia Lopez

Yesterday, Maxine Oland, Ali Wicks-Lim, and M.J. Schwartz spoke with Bill Newman and Buz Eisenberg on the “Talk the Talk” program on WHMP:

Their segment starts at 1:22 and concludes around 1:47. I hope you will take the time to listen to it in its entirety, which is vital at this critical moment of filling current school committee vacancies as well as embarking on a search process for a new superintendent.

Prioritizing the current and future safety and well-being of LGBTQIA+ youth requires having queer and trans representation on the Regional School Committee as well as the eventual search committee. For anyone to whom this may invoke “chaos” or feel like a personal affront in any way, please listen to the WHMP interview from yesterday. It lends context and perspective for why this is so important. 

Listen to Maxine Oland’s account of her child’s experience, for over a year, of being hounded by dozens of other kids in hallways, classrooms, and bathrooms, only to encounter transphobia from the counselor who was supposed to help them. Listen to M.J. Schwartz quoting RSC member Irv Rhodes, who confirmed the inaccuracy of former RSC Chair Ben Herrington’s claim that the Regional School Committee did not have the power to place former School Superintendent Mike Morris on administrative leave. 

This is difficult, humbling, and ultimately life-changing work. The last several months have exposed fault lines in the way the Amherst Regional Public Schools function. You all have the opportunity in the coming weeks and months to make Amherst an actual model for district-wide transformation. This requires a willingness to look at where the status quo is failing our kids, and making needed changes before we find ourselves with another crisis. 

What if you run with it? I hope you will. 

Jena Schwartz

Jena Schwartz is a writing coach, parent, and resident of Amherst.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

The Amherst Indy welcomes your comment on this article. Comments must be signed with your real, full name & contact information; and must be factual and civil. See the Indy comment policy for more information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.