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SPS Committee Stands Strong in Supporting Superintendent

During Wednesday night's meeting, Chairman Rich Robison read a statement, stating the Committee as a whole has confidence in Anne Wilson.

Sudbury Public Schools Committee has taken the wrath of parents who children's school year was interrupted

But despite the constant pressure from parents, the Committee has stayed strong in its stance of refusing to comment on personnel matters and have backed its superintendent.

At the end of Wednesday night's meeting, Robison read a statement to those remaining, in which the Committee has full confidence in Wilson.

Below is an unedited copy of the statement Robison submitted to Sudbury Patch:

The Sudbury Public School committee wishes to express its unreserved support for Dr. Anne Wilson as Superintendent of the Sudbury Public Schools. Recent developments at the Noyes School have resulted in a petition being circulated in the local media which contains partial, misleading information and does not paint a complete or accurate picture of all events surrounding Dr. Wilson’s job performance.

In April 2012, the SPS Committee completed its annual review of Dr. Wilson's first year as Superintendent of SPS and concluded that Sudbury Public Schools is fortunate to have Dr. Wilson as its leader. We stand by that statement. While recent events have been difficult for many, Dr. Wilson has in our opinion discharged her duties in good faith, according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in a professional manner. We are committed to working with Dr. Wilson to move our district forward.

Any questions concerning this matter may be referred to Richard Robison, Chairperson Sudbury School Committee.

The following unedited statement was read by Dr. Wilson:

"As superintendent, my 1st priority is to ensure the education, safety and well-being of all students in the Sudbury Public Schools. We have high standards for every adult in our system and we are fortunate to have so many dedicated and highly effective professionals who meet and exceed these high standards, every day, in every class, for every child.

Recently there has been media attention, rumors and statements, and tonight a petition from members of our school community as a result of a personnel matter. As I have previously stated, school administrators are required to protect the confidentiality of personnel matters and cannot, by law disclose these matters or any circumstances surrounding them.  We also cannot correct misinformation about a personnel matter in the media or in the public in general.

As the superintendent of schools, I have and always will place the best interests of students first.  When the school district receives a complaint about the conduct of an employee, we take immediate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of students and we do a thorough investigation into the reported conduct.  I will always take immediate and corrective action when a report is brought to my attention that impacts the safety or well-being of students.  

When it comes to the safety and well-being of our students, no one is exempted from meeting the high standards of conduct that we have in Sudbury.  Although it may be easier or less controversial to lower standards or take minimal action where student safety/well-being is concerned, I will never lower our standards or put the best interests of students below any other interest in the system.

Concern has been expressed regarding a teacher's ability to break up a fight.  No teacher has been or will be disciplined for breaking up a fight.  And to clarify, again, there was no fight between students and no report of a fight between students was made to the administration.

It is admirable and understandable that there is so much support for employees who have served our district for many years - this is very much deserved.  This support is welcomed and appreciated by me and the SPS administration.  However, all employees are expected to maintain our high standards for compliance with policies and standards of conduct whether a first year teacher or a veteran of many years. Every child deserves to be in a classroom where our high standards are maintained every day and we as a district are fortunate to have so many excellent educators who meet these standards every day for every child."

 

 

Mike Hullinger June 22, 2012 at 07:38 PM
MGL Chapter 71, Section 41 does not have "for cause" standard for dimissing a teacher, it has a more substantial "just" cause standard. This "just cause" dismissal or other permitted grounds for dimissal under Section 41 have attached to it a strict process of detailed written notice requirements, opportunities to review the dimissal grounds with counsel present, respond, and review of a dimissal decision by an arbitrator. It is unknowable from publically available information or offical statements whether Section 41 requirements were followed. What is knowable from public information is that Mrs. J. was removed from her classroom, sometime period of time later called into a 3 hour meeting and when the meeting was over she was not permitted to speak. What type of process was occuring behind the scenes and whether is was Section 41 compliant is not known. A public statement saying they fully complied with the requirements of Section 41 would be helpful.
Rob F June 22, 2012 at 08:13 PM
The "just cause" clause seems to be in Chapter 71, section 42: "A teacher with professional teacher status, pursuant to section forty-one, shall not be dismissed except for inefficiency, incompetency, incapacity, conduct unbecoming a teacher, insubordination or failure on the part of the teacher to satisfy teacher performance standards developed pursuant to section thirty-eight of this chapter or other just cause." We can assume from all of the glowing statements by parents that Mrs. Donahue wasn't dismissed for inefficiency, incompetency, incapacity, or failure to satisfy standards. So was it "conduct unbecoming", insubordination, or some other "just cause"? Incidentally, I looked through the other sections in Chapter 71 and saw nothing that looked like "no school official shall speak publicly about personnel matters". That doesn't mean it isn't in there; it could be in some section I didn't read deeply enough. But until someone can quote chapter and section, we should continue to demand an answer to this very basic question: what really happened?
Mike Hullinger June 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Sorry for the typing error. It should say say Section 42.
noyes parent June 22, 2012 at 08:56 PM
To all of you....wow your arguments are great....one problem it is the aggreaved teacgers issue, not yours.....if she has been ilkegalky fired she can seek redress, so let the system work, she has the ability to seek legal recourse......si a year frim now when she is still relieved of her job, you will all have your answer!
noyes parent June 22, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Sorry for spelling sent from phone
noyes parent June 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Hmmmm maybe mrs j should provide written authorization for the admin to publically discuss her case????......doubt she will.....its easier to spin when its a one sided argument
Mike Hullinger June 22, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Rob, If you google Massachusetts Public Records you get to the MGL laws on public records, which prohibit disclosure of information contained within personnel records if it "may constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy." Whether disclosing the reason a public official is dismissed constitutes and unwarranted invasion of privacy or is simply a matter of informing the voters is something to think about. Also, If the teacher consents to release of certain information then it would not constitute an unwarranted invasion of privac, however as has been reported, the teacher is under a gag order as part of what ever occured.
noyes parent June 22, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Then if "whatever occured" was the teacher agreeing to remain silent, then that speaks volumes.....however, she could still consent to allow the admin to disclose........crickets
noyes parent June 22, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Not trying to be contrarion here, but having been through many of these situations.....the truth is generally so far away from the percieved truth
Rob F June 22, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Thanks, Mike. I found this: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prepdf/guide.pdf, which lists the clauses your cited as one of the exceptions to full availability of public records. As you noted, it says that the definition of the exemption has been interpreted to varying degrees, often situationally. Termination information is generally considered an exception (i.e. not available). However, it goes on to say this: "It is necessary to perform a two-step analysis: first, determine whether the information constitutes an “intimate detail of a highly personal nature”; and second, determine whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interest associated with disclosure of the highly personal information." So you're right, there's food for thought here. It does explain why in other cases the school officials have been able to give details - they judged that the public interest outweighed the privacy interest in their cases. Personally, I believe that is true in this case as well. I wish we could at least get the teacher's opinion on whether she'd like the information made public, but the gag order prevents even that.
UserName June 22, 2012 at 09:43 PM
noyes parent - please don't forget that for many of us, the Mrs. J dismissal is only a small part of the issue. The other weaknesses of the leadership were the emotional & educational neglect of the children left behind in the class, not telling the parents that their children's teacher was gone, not notifying parents that school officials were interviewing said children to build their case, the lies told to parents and taxpayers about how well Wilson was managing the situation, the disrepectful way parents and taxpayers were treated as SPSC meetings. This has been all very carefully documented at one SPSC meeting after another. I know it would feel better to act like a few people are making a mountain out of mole hill, but the truth is we have some real problems that need to be looked at. Things can be improved, perhaps with some different people steering the ship - - but there's plenty of hope. But please be careful not dismiss the other angles & the pain of the parents &kids who were hurt by the way this was all handled. They deserved an apology at the very, very least. It's quite an insult to act like the only issue & victim here is Mrs. J. There are 20 plus parents of traumatized first graders who would be happy to help you understand otherwise. My guess is that you don't mean to come across as unkind and narrow-thinking as you are . . .While you are busy defending the actions against Mrs. J - would you also shrug off the stress and pain caused to those families?
UserName June 22, 2012 at 09:49 PM
One more thing - you sound like you have a personal agenda against this teacher and you are 100% entitled to that. But just please be mindful that this is far more complicated and bigger than just that one action or person.
noyes parent June 22, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I have never met mrs j nor have my kids ever stepped foot in her classroom.....i have just just seen this scenario many times in my profession!!....also i think ms doyle is an outstanding educator and a really good person
Rob F June 22, 2012 at 10:57 PM
You have an excellent point, and one that is at the crux of this matter. We don't know what the truth is. All we know is what we can learn from what has been stated or reported publicly and what we can observe from people's behavior. The public reports lead one to believe that a beloved, respected teacher was fired after breaking up a fight. Observation leads one to believe that the school committee and Dr. Wilson are blind to public interest and the impact of their decisions. Perhaps neither of these two conclusions is the truth. If so, when there are public statements and reports that indicate so, and when there are behaviors to observe that indicate so, I will happily be the first one to say "hey, I was wrong. Now that I have more information, I know I was wrong." I expect that many many other people will follow suit - people are as upset, if not more, about the HANDLING of the teacher's firing as about the firing itself. Bottom line: if the truth is not the same as the perceived truth, the responsibility lies with the school committee and Dr. Wilson, and it is in their interest and the public interest for them to bring perception and reality together.
Seeking Transparency June 23, 2012 at 02:04 AM
@noyes parent- If you have been through many of these situations then you should certainly understand how difficult it is for an individual with limited means to fight back against a town or corporation that can and will spend $50,000 without batting an eye to protect itself. Mrs. Donahue is no doubt being threatened with dire consequences by the attorney retained by the administration and is left to fight with a union appointed lawyer (during union contract negotiations) or to hire her own counsel at great personal expense. It tends to make one reticent when benefits that you have earned with decades of service are being threatened and you know that you do not have the resources to contest.
SueChap June 23, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Noyes Parent -- you seem to support respect of the law as you interpret it requires on the Ms. J situation, yet your opinions on the Lavenders situation is drink and let drink. Is this driven by your profession or were you, too, at Lavenders after closing time?
Ruth Curry June 23, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Mike, Have you, or anyone that you know of, filed a request for public information? I believe the Secty of State's office would opine on what should be released. I might be wrong but that was my understanding.
Liz June 23, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I was wondering the same--could we get anything by requesting information. There must be info on the 51A (ironically if she were really a threat to the children I'm assuming they would have disclosed more?) but now they're saying that's not relevant? Part of the problem here is that there are too many battles being fought at the same time: The firing of Mrs. J., the lack of communication and apparent mishandling of this at Noyes, the implications of this event to all SPS teachers, the way Dr. Wilson has handled this and possibly the School Committee. That's just my list! Makes my head spin. I saw the school bus go by yesterday afternoon and thought "at least first grade is over for Room 15 and they get a fresh start in the fall."
noyes parent June 23, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Suechap.....i dont know what your talking about....you may have me confused with the other "noyes parent"......i have said anything of tbe sort
Andy G. June 24, 2012 at 10:14 PM
As a follow-up to my earlier post about what I heard relative to teacher contract negations, I went ahead and completed some research. Below are the average teacher salaries from towns which we are compared or are nearby taken directly from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:(we pay our teachers less than MAYNARD does!) $92,058: Sherborn, $88,023: Dover, $87,269: Concord Carlisle 
$84,349: Dover Sherborn, $83,872: Wayland, $81,598: Concord, 
$81,401: Brookline, $81,070: Burlington, $81,028: Carlisle, $80,985: LS, 
$80,156: Northboro/Soutboro, $80,003: Minuteman, $79,051: Weston 
$77,909: Newton, $77,607: Lincoln, $76,657: Andover, 
$76,520: Boxborough, $76,371: Acton, $76,032: Bedford 
$75,807: Needham, $74,413: Framingham, $75,454: AB, 
$74,245: Newburyport, $73,945: Hopkinton, $73,964: Harvard 
$73,927: Wellesley, $73,004: Ashland, $72,300: Belmont 
$72,188: Northboro, $69,768: Lexington, $69,613: Maynard, $64,843: Sudbury. Additionally: 
1. Anne Wilson create 2 new administrative positions: an English/language arts & math (last year both positions were teachers & paid less.) 
 2. Hired 2 math "coaches" to help the new math administrator. 
 3. Several directors and administrators at Central Office given approx. 11% raises. 
4. Anne Wilson refurnished her office with new furniture replacing John Brackett's perfectly fine furniture, while my boys teachers’ classrooms had iMacs that clearly needed replacing.
SkimThreePercent June 24, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Andy, nice but you left out Lincoln-Sudbury RHS. K12 solves this obvious inequity. Their teachers are grossly overpaid leaving few crumbs for SPS teachers to fight over. Yes, SPS likes to overpay Administrators.
Andy G. June 24, 2012 at 11:39 PM
LS is in there ($80K) and I know that a K12 would solve that, but the issue there is getting our "neighbors" in Lincoln on board and that will NEVER happen. We have a much better shot of knocking off the three headed monster of Wilson, Drobinski and O'Brien in the coming year.
Tori T. June 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Andy, Glad to see someone has done their homework regarding teacher's salaries in Sudbury. Too many people look at the LS teacher's contract and think the SPS teachers have the same salaries and benefits. While LS teachers are among the highest compensated in the state, the reverse is true of the SPS teachers. For several years, I also thought the same, until someone took the time to explain the difference to me. I have been following this thread and it's nice to see you support your position with actual data, not just hearsay. Our K-8 teachers continually work with our kids who produce in the top 10 test scores out of 350 districts, yet they continue to be paid the worst in Metro West. And on top of this, I hear their new insurance package is also the worst. I wish other people took the time to understand how much their children are benefiting from the SPS system. We all move here for the schools and the teachers are a big reason for our children's success. Let's keep supporting our kids and pay the teachers what they deserve.
SkimThreePercent June 25, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Actually it has happened. Lincoln is holding or has held a special Town Meeting to fund the shortfall at LS caused by their failure to comply with the Special Act of 1993 (Ed Reform). The problem now is that they will only pay their fair share moving forward. No indication that they intend to pay for the previous 19 years where they underfunded their share at the regional high school. This is the main reason why O'Brien didn't want to let Haarde act represent BOS at the regional high school.
SueChap June 25, 2012 at 01:40 AM
noyes parent, rumors are you hold elected office. perhaps the school committee. In the hopes of transparency, I hope this is not the case.
Andy G. June 25, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Skim: Lincoln will never agree to consolidate their K-8 with ours to create a fully integrated K-12, that is what I was referring to. One reason I believe they would never consolidate is that they would most likely need to add they $20 million or so they from the federal government to educate kids residing in Hanscom to the collective pot. Please note I am not positive about this last piece; nonetheless, as stated before, I do not see them participating in such an arrangement.
noyes parent June 25, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Suechap.....on my children, completely false.....completely!
Deanna Clarance June 27, 2012 at 08:14 PM
To Noyes Parent & Anyone else w/same issue: I don't think anyone is saying to ignore the law. Until the last meeting when the petition was announced and the info on the filing of & then dismissal of the questionnable 51A, the main issue w/the parents at Noyes was that of policies & procedures around the handling of the questionning of 6/7 year olds and the entire communication chain to the parents of room 15. The superintendent and school committee continue to lump these issues in as a "personnel issue" thereby not having to address them. That has been the main frustration w/the administration. NOW, however, the unwaivering support of the school committee in the face of some very damaging info is the source of concern. Understandable that AT the meeting, they said nothing & lent their support given they weren't prepared. But turning what appears to be a blind eye to the requests by the tax payers to look into this situation, and just giving us all the cold shoulder while continuing to say that everything is misleading isn't constructive for our school system.
Deanna Clarance June 27, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Mrs. J is reluctant to speak publically because the attorney for the superintendent (or school committe, or town, whoever she works for) has made it very clear that things like that will not help her in her negotiations with them. The administration is holding her reputation, her job, her pension, and her benefits over her head. At 68 years old, would you throw all that out to the discretion of public whim?
Ann Hesenius August 21, 2012 at 07:20 PM
As one who has known Janice Donahue since teaching with her in the late 1960's, and who has followed her admirable career and personal accomplishments for over 40 years, I can only say that this whole situation is an unbelievable travesty of justice regarding an outstanding professional educator. It is truly a black mark on the town of Sudbury in toto - due to the egregious actions and attitudes of Supt. Wilson and Ms. Doyle - as well as arguably incompetent representation by counsel from the MA Teachers Association. It is all quite beyond disgraceful, actually - and astounding that a simple issue was so utterly mishandled. I would issue a word of caution to any educators now teaching, or thinking of any future teaching, in Sudbury to become fully acquainted with what really occurred in this ugly situation; the handwriting is clear.

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