The recently released investigation reports conducted by Attorney Ed Mitnick, that were undertaken following a Title IX complaint made by an Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools (ARPS) parent in April 2023, included a description of an earlier investigation conducted by former Amherst Regional Public Schools Director of Human Resources (HR), Kathy Mazur. Mitnick found Mazur’s investigation to be “highly inadequate and lacking in thoroughness.”
On December 1, 2023, the Amherst Pelham Education Association (APEA), the union that represents teachers and paraprofessionals in Amherst public schools, published a statement that referenced Mitnick’s report and called for Mazur’s immediate resignation. Mazur is reportedly currently employed by the district in HR as a consultant. When asked directly by Regional School Committee member Anna Heard (Shutesbury) at the Regional School Committee meeting of November 1, 2023 to stop using “the consultant” for Human Resources work, Interim Superintendent Doug Slaughter responded that this decision is within his purview, not the School Committee’s.
According to the Mitnick report titled “Investigation Report to ARPS School Committee,” on March 25, 2022*, an individual who is an Amherst Regional Middle School (ARMS) parent and employee (their name was redacted) sent the following email to then Superintendent Michael Morris:
“It has come to my attention that Delinda Dykes, [redacted]’s guidance counselor, refuses to counsel non-binary and LGBTQ students.
As a parent of a [redacted] child who is a student in your district, and as an ARMS staff member, I am absolutely shocked, outraged and disgusted. There is NO place for discrimination in our schools, and I can’t even wrap my head around how this could be allowed to happen. Not only is it ILLEGAL, but there is certainly no place for hate in our community, as you just stated in your newsletter.
I demand the immediate termination of Delinda Dykes and I do not stand alone. This will not be tolerated.”
The employee stated that they had heard their child and friends discussing “a lot of homophobic conduct” by ARMS students, and asked “Why don’t you go to a guidance counselor?” One of the friends answered, “I don’t really want to go to Mrs. Dykes.” The friend further shared that Dykes once said “I don’t understand that LGBTQ; not my thing.” As a result of hearing these things from their child and their friends, the employee sent the above email to Morris. The employee said they wrote the email “as a [parent] and not an employee.”
The report states that “by all accounts, Morris forwarded [redacted]’s complaint to Doreen Cunningham, and then Cunningham ‘passed it onto Kathy Mazur. Mazur was the director of HR at ARPS until 2018, when she retired and then Cunningham took over the director’s position.”
According to the report, Mazur’s investigation regarding this email complaint consisted of talking to the parent/ARMS employee who sent the email, Dykes, and Diego Sharon (then ARMS principal). She never talked to the employee’s child, or their friend(s) who had shared about Dyke’s concerning comment.
Mitnick writes: “Mazur never spoke to the students who allegedly had first-hand information regarding Dykes’ alleged anti-LGBTQ behavior. In fact, Mazur’s notes indicate she never asked [redacted] for the names of the students who complained about the unsafe environment.”
Mitnick goes on to say:
“I find ARPS’s handling of [redacted]’s complaint highly inadequate and lacking in thoroughness. Although [redacted] reported serious allegations of harassment and discrimination toward students based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, [Mazur] never spoke to the individuals who may have had first-hand knowledge of these allegations, namely, the students.”
It is worth noting that the report includes the following about this email: “Although [redacted]’s email to Morris, dated March 25, 2022, clearly raised concerns regarding Dykes’ treatment of LGBTQ students, Morris claimed the first time he had heard concerns about Dykes’ treatment of students related to gender-based matters was nearly a year later on March 14, 2023, pertaining to the matters raised by [redacted].”