I am writing this editorial to set the record straight regarding the executive session meeting of the Attleboro School Committee on May 7, 2012 .
The official School Committee Executive Secretary minutes of the May 7, 2012 Executive Session, which I recorded, are supported by Recording Secretary Judy Nelson's written notes (for the record, Ms. Nelson is neither my sister, nor of any relation). During regular open meetings and during most executive session meetings, we use a recording secretary to take meeting notes, who then writes draft minutes that are provided to me for review. This was the process used during the executive session on May 7, 2012.
The following is a true account of what was discussed during the executive session on May 7, 2012. As the executive secretary, it is my responsibility to review all school committee meeting draft minutes, edit them as necessary and then provide them to the full committee so they can be discussed and/or approved during the next regularly scheduled meeting. This responsibility is defined within school committee policy.
The motion that passed 5-4 in executive session (with School Committee members Mike Tyler, Brenda Furtado, Ken Parent, Teri Enegren and myself voting to extend a one-year contract and not offering any additional extensions and no new contract) was as follows:
Motion to have the Attleboro School Committee direct the members of the Executive Board to offer a one (1) year contract extension, in accordance with the motion that was passed on June 8, 2011, extending the superintendent's current contract for the time range of July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 with the same salary and benefits as defined in the current contract for the 2011-2012 school year, with no additional contract extension or no new contract offered or provided.
I can attest that it was understood by all members that this motion resulted in the fact that come July 1, 2013, Attleboro Public Schools would need a new superintendent. There was detailed discussion regarding this motion. In fact, there were numerous points related to exactly what the intent of the motion was, including the following:
- Committee member David Murphy said he disagreed with the language of the motion.
- Vice Chairwoman Furtado stated she ran the language by MASC and the intent of the motion means there will be no new extension or no new contract offered or provided to the superintendent and that the committee would be moving forward with a superintendent search.
- Committee member Christopher O’Neil voiced that according to the current language the district does not have any obligation after June 2013.
- Committee member Murphy also expressed that because of so many vacancies in Attleboro's schools, he did not want to do anything to make Attleboro look unattractive to applicants.
- Chairman Tyler responded by saying we could send a letter to the superintendent defining the parameters and tell her of the committees’ intent to go out for a superintendent search.
- Committee member Murphy wanted to split the motion.
- Committee Member Ken Parent voiced that the superintendent could reapply.
- Vice Chairwoman Furtado agreed with Mr. Parent and said yes, she could reapply because we are not firing her.
- Vice Chairwoman Furtado also said no to the motion being split. Chairman Tyler said he would talk to our legal counsel to weigh in on how to move going forward.
- Committee member Murphy then expressed that he did not want to go forward with a superintendent search at this time.
- I, Executive Secretary Barbara Craw, then responded saying that due to the importance of this position, we cannot wait on this.
- Committee Member William Larson asked that legal counsel direct us on how to communicate this.
- Chairman Tyler responded by saying he would talk with legal counsel and get back to the committee.
The point of providing the executive session dialogue above is to show that there was in-depth discussion on what the motion actually meant and the School Committee's Recording Secretary Judy Nelson's notes and my own both support that there was a detailed discussion regarding the Attleboro School Committee having to start a superintendent search.
There was some concern expressed by some members on the timing and on how to communicate this to the superintendent. Chairman Tyler agreed that he would talk to our legal counsel on how to proceed and would get back to the committee, which did not happen.
Chairman Tyler consulted Ed Lenox, the school committee's legal counsel, and only reported back to the Executive Board (which consists of Chairman Tyler, Vice Chairwoman Furtado and me) that Mr. Lenox said that the intent of the motion to move forward with a superintendent search was there and that we were within our legal rights to announce at an open meeting that we will be moving forward with a superintendent search. He also said that we did not need to notify the superintendent of the plans to start a search prior to the announcement.
Chairman Tyler informed the Executive Board of the planned steps on how he was going to move forward and inform the superintendent, as a courtesy, that the committee would be conducting a new superintendent search. The Executive Board agreed that the superintendent should be extended the professional courtesy of being informed prior to the announcement. Vice Chairwoman Furtado and I inquired on several occasions as to when Chairman Tyler was going to meet with the superintendent and we expressed our concerns that he should not present this information alone.
Chairman Tyler decided to meet with the superintendent just prior to the open meeting on June 18, 2012. After meeting with the superintendent, Mr. Tyler reported back to the Executive Board that when he informed the superintendent that it would be announced at this meeting that the committee was going out for a superintendent search, she responded by saying she was going to consult her attorney.
Vice Chairwoman Furtado then expressed she was not surprised by the superintendent's response and felt the Executive Board still needed to move forward with the planned announcement and that she was not going to allow the superintendent's response to prevent the announcement from being related to the public. Chairman Tyler was apprehensive due to the superintendent's response of contacting her attorney, so he allowed Vice Chairwoman Furtado to make the announcement that we were moving forward with a superintendent search and he would be in contact with school committee members, the AEA president and the community.
When Vice Chairwomen Furtado stated a vote was taken on a superintendent search , this was not correct. But, the intent of the motion made on May 7, 2012 that was confirmed by the school committee attorney and passed 5-4, was clearly discussed and evident that the next step was to move forward with a new superintendent search.
It is evident in my own official minutes of the executive session held on May 7, 2012 and School Committee Recording Secretary Judy Nelson's minutes show that there was a very thorough and lengthy discussion about a superintendent search. The comments made by several committee members also supports that all committee members were fully aware of the intent of the motion and the next logical step was to move forward with a Superintendent search, which in no way can be denied by any school committee member.
The executive session minutes are TRUE and ACCURATE and show detailed discussion leading up to the announcement made by Vice Chairwoman Furtado on June 18, 2012. Again, there was no vote taken to move forward with a superintendent search, but there was a majority vote to not extend or offer a new contract to the current superintendent.
As far as this being announced publicly for the purpose of embarrassing the superintendent, I can speak for myself in saying that this is absolutely not true. In fact, if Committee member Murphy had not handled this announcement by telling the media that he had no idea where Vice Chairwoman Furtado got her statement from, this issue would likely never have become what it has. If I, or others, wanted to embarrass the superintendent we would have gone out of our way to express the various reasons as to why we feel it is time to seek a new superintendent, but this was not done.
In conclusion, my minutes are truthful and I will not fabricate or withhold any factual information from the public for ANYONE! I believe in transparency and reporting the factual events of the school committee meetings. I have always been honest and will continue to promote transparency in regards to any issues involving our schools. I will not compromise my beliefs or integrity by withholding the truth from the public.
As for the The Sun Chronicle opinion page reporter calling me a liar , get your facts in order and report the whole truth and do not be biased based on friendships or political views. As for certain school committee members inferring that my minutes are fabricated, selective memory is very convenient when you choose to deny the truth. To deny your own words is disgraceful and speaks to your own morals and values.
If anyone is interested in obtaining my official minutes and the Attleboro Public Schools recording secretary's minutes, please contact the superintendent's office. All documentation in regards to the May 7, 2012 executive session has been released and is public record. Anyone can make a public record request and be provided with all the information on file in regards to this meeting or any other meeting.
I want to thank you for your support and I will continue to represent the children, parents and community honestly and with the utmost integrity.
I can be reached for any questions or comments at 508-222-5120 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbara Craw is an at-large member and secretary of the Attleboro School Committee.