Statement of No Confidence in the Superintendent of the Wachusett Regional School District, by its community members
SUMMARY: That Dr. Darryll McCall has exhibited a failure to plan, a failure to lead, and a failure to communicate that has left the Wachusett Regional School District, at less than 36 hours remaining before a hybrid school is scheduled to start, with serious open questions about how instruction will delivered to students regardless of their status inside or outside of school buildings, serious questions about transportation, and serious questions about health protocols. It is the petitioners' position that the Superintendent has acted inefficiently and incompetently, and has placed both the educational quality and physical safety of the community at risk. Based on the performance of Superintendent Dr. Darryll McCall, we, the undersigned, are asking that a vote of no confidence be undertaken by the Wachusett Regional School Committee.
The Superintendent's contract, recently signed, is not publicly available on the WRSD website. However, it can be reasonably assumed that the School Committee may terminate it and dismiss the Superintendent at any time prior to the expiration of the contract for reasons of inefficiency, incompetence, incapacity, conduct unbecoming, or other good cause.
It is the petitioners' position that the Superintendent has acted inefficiently and incompetently. Based on the performance of Superintendent Dr. Darryll McCall, we, the undersigned, are asking that a vote of no confidence be undertaken by the Wachusett Regional School Committee. We, the undersigned parents and guardians of children who are attending Wachusett Regional Public Schools, and family and community members who share similar concerns, have composed this letter to express our dissatisfaction with the current superintendent, Darryll McCall, and his lack of successful leadership of this District, the largest regional district in the state, during this pandemic.
We understand the severity of this decision and did not arrive at it hastily. We understand that we, like the rest of school districts throughout the Commonwealth, are struggling with the unprecedented challenges of a worldwide pandemic. However, with examples of far greater successes throughout other districts in the state, in the areas of communication, teacher support, student support, transparency, and educational quality, there is no longer any confidence in Dr. McCall's abilities as a leader nor is there confidence that he has provided, nor can provide, a comprehensive and strategic vision to lead this District through the remainder of this pandemic. Change can be frightening, but in this case, both despite and because of the circumstances, it is necessary.
Dr. McCall has demonstrated incompetence in his failure to plan for, resolve and provide solutions, and has shown both a lack of foresight and notable level of mismanagement. A list of "weekly top picks" of online resources for students has not been updated since 3/23/2020. The FY 2021 budget, despite being approved by all towns, is still in "draft" form dated 3/13/2020 on the website. There is no public information on any financial updates, including final budget numbers from state, data on the CARES Act receipts or expenditures, or the final results of the tiered cuts earlier anticipated. A reopening task force was not seated until June 4, 2020, initial recommendations not released until July 2020, with no further documentation of any other work. It is reported that Dr. McCall refused to negotiate with teachers union on the subject of fall reopening until the end of July 2020.
Dr. McCall has exhibited lack of attention to, preparation for, and appropriate prioritizing of the requirements and interests of our entire student body, and has failed to lead the WRSD successfully through the challenges of this pandemic. The following list of reported concerns should be addressed immediately and answered to the satisfaction of the School Committee: There are reports of widespread internet connectivity issues within the school buildings. There are reports of a lack of enforcement of masks and social distancing at standardized testing events and among school administration personnel. There are reports that Dr. McCall has rarely been in the district and has refused to attend negotiation meetings. 10 days of union-requested professional development reportedly consisted of a list of youtube videos sent to elementary and middle school staff, with nothing sent to high school staff. Wednesday PD days have had little to no official training provided. There are alarming reports of inadequate cleaning supplies, despite only 48 hours before school is scheduled to begin with strict cleaning protocols in place.
It has been 171 *work days* (250 calendar days) since in-person school ended on March 13, 2020. In that time, the extent of Dr. McCall's outreach to the five communities he is supposed to serve has consisted of 44 emails. No open meetings with families in individual schools, individual towns, or individual grade levels. No direct discussions with students. Two "Town Halls", both held during work hours, neither allowing live questioning.
Community-wide, morale is low throughout not just the student body, but also within families, and across staff at all levels. The stress inflicted upon families and employees for whom the lack of direction, support and cannot be understated. The families of over 8000 children, plus the hundreds of staff with families of their own, in the face of a stark lack of information, are unable to plan. In a poll shared with school committee members,, over 90% of professional teaching staff were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, and over 70% supported a motion of no confidence in Dr. McCall. An earlier motioned vote of no confidence by the WRSC resulted in a requirement to hire a consultant in 10 days - this was not completed in the required 10 days, and since then no reporting from this consultant has been released. Families have resorted to polling each other on social media to get answers to what hybrid looks like, what remote looks like, how schedules are working, whether learning is synchronous or asynchronous, with hundreds of comments and responses, many reporting feelings of helplessness, confusion and frustration. Student representatives to the school committee are providing more information, with more clarity, than paid professional administration.
With 36 hours before the hybrid model was set to start, Wachusett District families finally received some information on Monday, November 16th. It included bus and schedule details, despite the fact that 2 WRSC meetings are currently scheduled, ostensibly because no signed bus agreement, and no memorandum of understanding with the WREA, must yet be in place.
Shockingly, also in this email, Dr. McCall chose to attempt to lay blame for all delays squarely on the WREA teachers' union. This antagonistic, aggressive and bad-faith accusation could help to explain why professional teaching staff has not felt comfortable in coming forward publicly with needs and concerns regarding either personal and student safety, or educational quality. For the few families for whom education services have been providing their children with what they need, it has been dedicated teaching staff that are providing it.
The School Committee has been hamstrung by a notable lack of response to direct requests, a lack of documentation of progress, and a lack of tools to adequately assess and comment on actions being taken. A hybrid plan is set to begin in earnest on Thursday, November 18th, and this District is simply not ready. To attempt to use local Boards of Health to cancel whatever minimal plan was in place, is akin to thinking that your unfinished term paper isn't due because a snow day was called.
There is, and has been, no coherent plan. There has been no coherent messaging. There has been no cooperation, or leadership. If hybrid students do not return to school in less than 48 hours, it will be because of these deficiencies.
For all these reasons outlined, we the undersigned do officially state our lack of confidence in Dr. McCall and call on our elected representatives on the Wachusett Regional School Committee to support our petition, and request the resignation of Dr. McCall from his position as Superintendent of the Wachusett Regional School District.