November 30, 2023

Is Anyone Listening? May 25, 2023


On Monday, May 22, 2023, the Seekonk School Committee meeting had an agenda item to “Discuss the Superintendent Finalists”.

What started as an interesting meeting eventually turned into some very curious optics that raised some eyebrows. Well, mine at least.

Let’s dial this back a bit. A little over a week prior to the meeting I made an inquiry as to who was on the Superintendent Search Committee. I was directed to a link on the School District web page and while it was easy information found, the line up was as expected.

I am inserting a disclaimer here in that I am not passing judgement on the “work” of the Committee, or the finalists chosen. My judgement is based on the process of selection.

By piecing this information together, the following committee was put together by (2) voting members of the current School Committee.

Here’s the breakdown:
• 3 – Seekonk Teachers
• 2 – Sitting and voting member of the School Committee (the same 2-creating this group)
• 1 – Seekonk Assistant Superintendent
• 1 – Seekonk Principal
• 2 - District Employees
• 3 – Parent Representatives
• 1 – Town Employee

One of the Sitting and Voting members of the School Committee began by attempting to explain how the search committee was chosen. It was stated that “surveys were sent to as many people as they could.” The actual number sent was not provided. It was reported that 68 applications were received for the Parent Representative slots of which only 3 were chosen. Nine (9) slots were filled by School/District personnel.

Fast forward to meeting night. After listening to the opinions of the entire 5 member School Committee for a few hours, 2 members voiced their concerns. Instead of offering a solution or resolution to concerns, Sitting and Voting member #1 makes a motion to extend a conditional offer of employment to one candidate, her choice. The motion was immediately seconded by a different member. Discussion halted and the vote was cast. The motion carried 3-2 in favor of the choice of 2 Sitting and Voting members. The 2 descending voices were silenced. Keep in mind they only needed 1 more vote to hire “their” choice.

In summary, how fair is it for 2 sitting School Committee members to appoint themselves to the search committee only to pick “their” choice for the finalist and need only 1 more vote to get their way? To add insult to the process, 1 of those 2 voting members asked the others to reconsider their descending vote. Wonder why neither Member who inserted themselves on the Search Committee in the first place did not consider changing their votes? Why does the School Committee always “choose” the same people for special school committee assignments?
Why does the School Committee always insert themselves into school committee projects? Why does the School Committee not trust the judgement or opinions of ordinary towns people to carry out assignments or work on projects?

Also, curious to know “how” they can consider a vote at all when an offer of employment or potential offer of employment was not on the agenda?

Just like an onion made of layers. Peel back one layer at a time and the deeper you go, the worse it smells.

Optics, it is all about optics and the outcome. We have not learned anything from the Aitken School Expansion Project. But we keep waiting, some more patient than others.

Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day festivities!!!
Congratulations to the Class of 2023 – Warriors 4-ever.

Doreen Taylor


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