Monomoy Regional High School department heads are asking for an apology from the school committee for the way several teachers were treated at the committee's March 23 meeting.
At tonight's school committee meeting (Thursday, April 13), an executive session will be held to discuss the teachers' complaint. Along with the March 27 letter from the department heads, committee chairman Brian Widegren said he received emails and comments about the meeting, and he felt “we certainly need to respond in some way.”
“I'm hoping and planning on the executive session assisting us in forming a consensus as to how we should respond,” he said. He declined to comment about the specifics of the department heads' letter.
Eight MRHS department heads signed the letter, which alleges that the committee violated sections of its norms and protocols and seeks a “sincere and public apology.” The language and tone of the March 23 discussion, they wrote, “lacked dignity and respect and often met MRSD's definition of harassment.” Committee members also questioned the qualifications and decisions made by department heads, and argued that questions about graduation requirement changes in science and social studies that had already been approved by the committee violated a section of the protocols which call on members to accept majority votes.
“Using the staff of the school as targets for dissatisfaction with a vote is unacceptable,” the letter states. It goes on to say, “If members of the committee are unable to follow the agreed upon norms and protocols for the sake of our school community they should step down from office.”
A “low point” in the discussion, the letter adds, was when committee member Sharon Stoutcalled changes to the social studies curriculum a “disgrace.”
Stout and committee member Karen Ryder continued to question the decision to make the department's government class an elective rather than a requirement, even though the change was approved by a majority of the committee in a previous meeting.
Principal Bill Burkhead also lashed out at the committee at the March 23 meeting, saying he was “embarrassed and ashamed” by the treatment the department heads received.
“It's very disheartening to see how the teachers were treated tonight,” he said.
The teachers' letter states that the March 23 actions should trigger a section of the norms and protocols which call for violations to be referred to the chairman for “attempted mediation.” Widegren said that's what the executive session will focus on.
Widegren said the norms and protocols are included as an agenda item for tonight's meeting, providing an opportunity to discuss the issue following the executive session.
He also added that he'll ask that the norms and protocols, adopted by the committee last October, be made available through the school department's website.
“If we're going to be held to them, people should know what they are,” he said.