Laura Frazier 0

Sustainability Academy Principal Search

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June 8, 2015

Dear BSDVT Board,

The parents of the Sustainability Academy are writing with much concern over the recent principal search process at our school. We believe that the charade of democracy is worse than no democracy at all and that the process of the principal search was mere “tokenism”. It was very clear from this process that both parents and teachers wanted a more thorough search and an interim principal. When we learned that a candidate is being put to the board for a vote, without parents being notified, we wonder why we were even asked for our input and time in the first place. There are some clear issues that plague the District’s hiring practices and they need to be resolved. Teachers and parents all over the district are feeling disenfranchised and frustrated.

Our particular concerns regarding this process are as follows:

  1. The search process was untimely. How are we to find viable, knowledgeable and experienced candidates who are capable of leading a school for sustainability forward if we don’t post the position in places where such candidates may look, be engaged or at the time of year candidates are looking for new positions?
  2. Candidates lack necessary experience. BSD made a commitment to social equity by transforming two schools into magnet schools. The Sustainability Academy has lacked the leadership to bring its mission to reality. The leadership has struggled to set expectations using the lens of sustainability. We have one more chance to find a leader who can use this lens of sustainability to hold parents, community members, students and staff accountable to the pedagogy and practices that will set us apart as a school, close the achievement gap and draw families from throughout the district to create social economic balance. We didn’t hear anything in the interviews from the candidates regarding their experience, knowledge, practice or commitment to our mission and Education for Sustainability.
  3. The District’s process is inequitable and unfair. We realize that the district has had many Assistant Principal and Principal positions open this year. We find it curious that our school, with the least amount of time to do a thorough search and the school in crisis with a beloved Principal leaving abruptly, is the school who is set to hire a permanent principal. We also realize that there were quite a few mistakes made by the district in the hiring process and some policies that are being overlooked to remedy these mistakes. We don’t feel like it is fair to use our school as a way to remedy these mistakes, nor to hire someone the district wants to hire for the district.
  4. Each school should be looked at individually and decisions made accordingly. While all schools deserve the same amount of attention, resources and care, we believe that the vision and mission of our school need to drive the decision-making process. What may work well for the district, and for other schools, may not be the best fit for the Sustainability Academy-and vice versa. If we are going to succeed as a school for sustainability, then we need to use that lens in all decisions-especially when hiring a principal.

Please reconsider Howard Smith’s recommendation. Hear what the community, who will have to live with the decision, has to say. It is our school’s fragile future that is at stake. It is not a decision to take lightly, nor without input from the community. Howard said it himself, “There has to be buy-in for a candidate to succeed.” We were clear when we shared with him that there were too many concerns and not enough buy-in.

Thank you for considering our voices,

Parents and Friends of the Sustainability Academy

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