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We Stand With Our Teachers

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We the undersigned, call on the Madison Country Day School Board of Trustees to immediately appoint Devon Davis as Head of School.

The overwhelming majority of our community wants Devon Davis appointed as Head of School. We have sent letters, filled out surveys, and attended listening sessions, all to no avail. Most importantly, the Board has chosen to ignore the faculty and administrators, who, speaking collectively and individually, have enumerated many reasons why they want Devon at the helm of our school.

The Board hired an outside consultant and formed a search committee, but the members of the committee were not publicly named. Unlike the last search committee, which operated with more transparency, the current committee includes neither a faculty representative nor a parent representative. We note with regret that the Board does not make public the bylaws, agendas, or minutes of their meetings.

Appointing Devon as our new Head of School will provide MCDS with a level of stability that is absolutely necessary during this critical period in our school’s history. The faculty, who have done an outstanding job under Devon’s leadership, especially during these past few months, will be utterly demoralized if she is passed over.

We recognize and appreciate the efforts of individual Board members, however we feel that the Board as a whole – four of whose eight current members have served for a matter of mere weeks – is out of touch with the community on whose behalf it serves, especially the faculty, who provide our children with an exceptional education. For several years, the faculty have been discouraged that their views have been disregarded by the Board, which has not operated in a transparent manner. Sadly, some excellent teachers have left our school due to morale issues that stem from feeling unsupported by the school’s leadership; others are currently exploring opportunities at other schools. In the words of one long-time faculty member, “We are feeling exhaustion, apathy, and powerlessness ... which will lead to resignations.”

We want to underscore that those of us who are in support of this petition are diverse with respect to the divisions in which our children are enrolled and our ability to donate money to MCDS. Some of us have given generously, while others of us receive tuition assistance and give back to our wonderful school in other ways. What we share is a conviction that the excellent education our children receive from MCDS is due to outstanding, hardworking teachers, who are under-compensated with respect to their peers at other schools. We lament that their already low salaries are currently frozen, even as the Board, whose primary responsibility is fiduciary, has spent approximately $400,000 over the past twelve months for a severance payment for the former Head of School and the costs of last year’s search and the one that is ongoing. We further lament that the salary offered to the incoming Head who resigned was well above the average for Heads at peer schools. This contributes to the low morale among faculty.

In about eight weeks, the 2020–21 school year will begin, which promises to be like no other. As she has throughout the past year, Devon continues to demonstrate wise and dedicated leadership, assuming responsibility for hiring new faculty and, most importantly, overseeing the school re-entry plan. We cannot stress enough how much faith and trust the faculty put into Devon during this extraordinary time. With Devon as our next Head of School, the elation and relief among faculty and the great majority of MCDS families will be palpable and those teachers now considering leaving will almost certainly stay. A huge step toward building confidence in the Board will be taken, and we will all be able to look toward the immediate future with optimism and confidence.

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