Last Friday, Lisa Gutch responded to a comment made by Thomas Schmidt, a Patch reader, who asserts that he has been researching our school system. In her response, Ms. Gutch states that she is the Vice Chair of the Sudbury School committee. Furthermore, she offered to provide Mr. Schimdt with an "accurate account" of what has been happening in Sudbury (Public Schools) in recent months.
Since Ms. Gutch represents herself as the Vice Chair of the SPSC and not as resident, taxpayer, or parent, I find her offer of information to be improper at best. If she is speaking with Mr. Schmidt in an official capacity and not as a town resident, it implies that she will be sharing more information regarding SPSC matters than she has with the parents, teachers and taxpayers that have been attending SPSC meetings since last spring.
I have attended and posed questions at several of the aforementioned meetings. Therefore, as a resident of Sudbury and parent of children affected by the actions of the SPSC and administration last spring I am writing this letter.
I am hopeful that Ms. Gutch, in her position as Vice Chair would kindly follow up on my repeated requests which I first presented to her, the SPSC and Dr. Wilson last June. To date I have not received a response pertaining to very specific questions I posed regarding policy.
In particular, I would like Ms. Gutch to address the written policies as they pertain to the questioning of children by administrators, teachers or staff and the notification of parents/guardians. If there are no policies at present, I highly suggest that it be made a priority that some be put in place. It was made clear nearly five months ago that this is a pressing issue.
The policies should at the very least include stipulations as to when parents/guardians should be offered the opportunity to be present with their children during questioning. Many parents feel that it can be highly traumatizing to have small children interrogated by administrators about matters of a serious nature, particularly those which could potentially determine the need for the filing of a 51A and dismissal of a teacher or administrator.
Parents of children included in this interrogation practice last May raised their concerns to the administration in a meeting on June 5. When asked why parents were not contacted prior to the questioning of their children by the principal and vice principal (even though many parents were in the school building during the interrogations) the principal said they “question students regarding incidents all the time.”
I maintain that the “incident” that ultimately led to a teacher’s dismissal and Superintendent Dr. Wilson filing a 51A 18 days later was not an everyday event. This is what prompted my request for clarification on the policies that are, or should be in place regarding the questioning of children.
I am confident Ms. Gutch agrees that parents ultimately have the most rights where the well-being of their children is concerned. Since it is the position of the administration that “the safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority” I am certain that this subject has been given due consideration by her and the SPSC.
I do not see any downside to having a clear and reassuring policy as it would protect not only the children who have been described as the highest priority, but teachers, staff, administration, the SPSC and the taxpayers (from possible lawsuits) as well.
Since it has been more than five months since "the event" took place and more than for months since I first asked the question of Ms. Gutch, Dr. Wilson and the other SPSC members, I would greatly appreciate it if Ms. Gutch would kindly respond to my request regarding written policy in this situation since she has availed herself to another Patch reader. I look forward to Ms. Gutch, the other members of the SPSC and Dr. Wilson responding to all of Sudbury as to what the policy is and when we can expect to see it in the handbook.
Thank you you for your prompt attention to this highly important matter.
49 Blueberry Hill Lane