Principal Reassignment Benefits All Children

The situation at Thacher requires Catherine Zinni's talents in special education and ELL. I am confident she will accomplish great things there as she did at Willett. The entire system and all children in Attleboro will be better served by the change.

The following is addressed to current and future parents:

I didn't receive until late in the day Friday. I wasn't on-line again until late Sunday night when I was reviewing our materials for the school committee Meeting Monday, .
My apologies as I would like to have been more proactive about contacting you over the weekend, particularly the Willett PTO to hear your concerns.
I understand that it is disheartening for Willett parents to see Ms. Zinni move to . She has been great to work with and will be sorely missed. I was looking forward to my son spending his kindergarten and elementary years with Willett under her principalship.

The situation at Thacher requires her talents in special education and ELL (English language learners). I am confident she will accomplish great things there as she did at Willett. The entire system and all children in Attleboro will be better served by the change.

She does not leave Willett orphaned and alone—there is a strong community of volunteers and staff who I hope will see this as an opportunity to build on what has already been accomplished and do even greater things with Ms. Campbell, who brings a great deal of talent, the necessary skills, experience and drive to this position.

I did not have a chance to investigate the superintendent's appointment until late Sunday and before making any judgments on this issue, I wanted to hear more about the reasoning behind the decision and about the individual taking on the principalship at Willett.

Now, I look forward to my son experiencing Willett under the direction of Ms. Campbell. I appreciate your committment to Willett and to Ms. Zinni and I hope that your concerns were addressed at Monday night's meeting. 

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly. I'll get back to you as quickly as my schedule permits. Thank you respectfully and sincerely.

(508) 558-1564

Chris O'Neil is the Ward 3 representative on the Attleboro School Committee

city watcher June 21, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I live in ward 5. The same ward where Councilor Blais claims to have taken a gun to his workplace due to the violence there. It's everywhere. Durkin sees it as a benefit to Thacher to have Zinni move there to help those kids as well. Yes, we are all entitled to want what is best for our children. We wouldn't be human if we wished for the opposite. Since the bar has been set at Willett, I'm sure Ms Campbell will adhere to the standards there. The SC's motto is "change is good". Some people may, or may not agree. Time will tell if this change will help or hurt all involved. Give it a chance. Nobody likes to see the applecart being tipped over but it's a challenge that if everybody works with each other, instead of against each other, it can be righted.
Jim Stors June 21, 2012 at 03:59 PM
As a former PTO President at my children's elementary school, & a current active member at their middle school, I can see & respect Mrs. Brasil's (the Willet PTO President) concerns. It is dificult to establish a good repoire with a Principal and once established, & both parties have agreed to priorities and started to work towards them, it becomes very upsetting for that to be upturned. Luckily for the Willet PTO, parents & students they are getting an amazing leader. I have known Mrs. Campbell for a few yrs as she was a lead teacher for my last couple of yrs at Hill-Roberts & she is amazing. Knowing her I am sure that she & the Willet PTO will have an amazing relationship. But I can still absolutely relate to the concerns raised by Laurie & the other parents from Willet. I know that if after 3 or 4 yrs Mr. Joseph had been relocated (& I know that it was proposed that he move & he had to express absolute disagreeance with it) I & I am sure many parents would have been very upset. I can see both sides of this issue. Ms. Zinni has proven herself at Willet & the parents love her. But she could bring great things to Thacher & Mrs. Campbell will be great herself. But again I see the concern raised by parents. It really comes down to this... Why change it if it ain't broken? Personally I would have liked to see this handled differently, especially with so much change going on already. The SC members should not have tried to placate the parents as some have.
A H Johnson June 21, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Change is good when it is warranted. This change is unprecedented and showed a total disrespect for Willett children and parents. Our schools are suppose to be a collaborative. They will only be successful if the Superintendent works with the teachers, parents and SC. She did not do this and has no respect for anyone. How can this be a good move? It was just the Superintendent's way of saying I have all the power and you mean nothing. Mr. Murphy was way out of line to say that we are wasting our time. Who does he thing he is? We elected him. If he thinks going to our SC reps is a waste of time, he should not be on the committee. He needs to go run for office in Boston, where he lives. He cannot pull the wool over our eyes. He ran to help the Superintendent. Mr. Geddes was correct and it applies to Mr. Murphy - support all the students and parents - you were not elected to be a Pia supporter. Enough is enough. Because he does not have children in the schools, he does not understand.
city watcher June 21, 2012 at 04:42 PM
So it's my understanding that if you are elected to the SC, you are supposed to be a "Pia hater"? Are you only allowed on the SC if you vote completely against the superintendant? There are some times I don't agree with Pia but that doesn't make her an evil person people make her out to be. I personally agree more with Pia than I do with the SC. Doesn't make me a bad person and I'm not ashamed of it. I am personally friends with 2 of the most outspoken "Pia Haters". It does not make them bad people. They are good parents to their children, as I am to mine. They are entitled to their opinions as much as I am. And the line should be drawn at the comment that Mr Murphy doesn't understand because he doesn't have children in the schools. One of the SC members made that very same comment and was reprimanded for it.
T Texeria June 21, 2012 at 05:17 PM
It is nice to know that a SC member made a comment that states the truth. I do not see that SC members are haters of Pia. They are advocates for our children. Also check your facts, the SC member that made that comment was not reprimanded. It was dismissed. Any tax payer has the right to make a comment about a SC member not having children. This is not a censorship. No one stated Pia was evil, just that she is not the second coming like all her supporters want us all to believe. Take a step back and really think about it. You do not know about what is going on in our schools if you do not have kids attending them. You cannot say you have experienced the issues and it has effected your child. Don't speak on issues you have no clue about Mr. Murphy is all I have to say.
city watcher June 21, 2012 at 05:41 PM
If you can't see that some SC members are "Pia haters", then you are clearly misguided. I've been in conversations with the 2 most outspoken Pia haters and you would not believe what comes out of their mouths. I think you'd have a different opinion of these 2 if you heard some of the statements that are being said.
Rob Geddes June 21, 2012 at 08:52 PM
AH, Mr. Murphy and Mr. O'Neil were not voted in to be "Pia supporters" and I do not think they categorize themselves as such. The School Committee, to borrow from Patricia's comment above, should be on "Team Attleboro Schools." Everyone has differing opinions on what that means. Some say it should be to get Dr. Durkin out and keep the School Committee. Others think that it is the other way around. Ideally, "Team Attleboro Schools" opinions would differ from topic to topic, issue to issue, and objective to objective. Different members of the Committee and Administration agreeing on one thing while disagreeing on others. Healthy and respectful give and take on everything related to the schools with the students and the community as the top priorities rather than a universal support or opposition to some members and/or the Superintendent. I think some members of the Committee are in this camp and others are not. Most I am not sure about. The pro/anti division started at some point over the past few years and I think people (on the Committee and not) have been categorized in one camp or the other; some on their own and some by others in a "with us or against us" kind of way from both sides.
city watcher June 21, 2012 at 08:58 PM
forgive me for sounding like a broken record Rob...but the pro/anti division started with the elimination of snacks in the middle schools.
michelle walton June 21, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Enough with Teri living in Florida already!!! She was re-elected. Get over it!!!!!
bill smith June 22, 2012 at 02:24 AM
All this was a plane put gether by aea and frank durant aka dagastino at morin s diner in 2009 and mike teri breanda stores bob hill and now breanda BIG sister and started over a snack issue in2008. Now there next step is to get rid of all front office staff
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 04:15 AM
The discussion had gotten off-track here, and I am sorry for being part of the reason this happened. Let's bring the comments back to the topic of the article. However, I will continue to encourage people to use their real names on this site because many, many people in the community have asked me to do that. It is very inappropriate to take shots at people who have the courage to step up and be active in the community while not having the same courage to use your real name. If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to email me at jonathan.friedman@patch.com or call me at 508-821-8613.
Ronda "Roni" Lodge June 22, 2012 at 10:07 AM
@Bill Smith (sorry to continue to be off track Jonathan) to you have any basis for your accusations? I agree with Jonathan, use your REAL name. Too many Smiths -- are you related to TY SMITH (aka Helen Johnson)? I just have to chuckle at that. But, getting back on topic, it is a shame that in addition to principals leaving, that the Superintendent is them MOVING around the ones that are staying. Enough disruption to our system and our kids! Stop what you're doing, plan your final year and go out with dignity. Not with the memory that every move you make is with avengence!
city watcher June 22, 2012 at 01:30 PM
yes, what Bill Smith is accusing is absolutely true. I've had conversations with the SC members about their reasons for running and the very first statement out of their mouth was "taking away snack time was the last straw for me".
SJ Alves June 22, 2012 at 01:37 PM
@Bill Smith. Sounds like you have a personal vendetta. Get your facts straight. Making up stories to support someone you support is laughable. If the front office is corrupt like Durkin, then maybe they need to go too. If they are doing their job, then they have nothing to worry about. Our School Committee was elected to do a job and that is to make sure there is accountability and that our schools are running properly. A few have stood up and did there job. They are trying to stop the destruction of our schools systems. People like you are critizing them for doing their job. The superintendent was not doing her job properly and refused too. She needed to be fired and the time has now come. Before you critize the few members who are doing their job, why don't you see what their role is, it is to do what is best for the district. This includes the authority to fire the Superintendent. Now the district can move forward and provide a fair, constructive and beneficial learning experience for all of Attleboro's children.
High School Teacher June 22, 2012 at 01:55 PM
city watcher-if you,re going to quote people do not ad lib.The SC member you are refering to did have an issue with the snack policy in schools.But, she was urged by an overwhelming majority to run for SC to be the voice of the children and parents.She has loyalty to the children and parents in her Ward.Snack time was not the last straw.She didn't hid behind the scenes, she saw the numerous problems in our schools and said enough is enough.She is standing up for our children. There is no personal reasons, just the will and desire to do what is best for the district and the educational needs of Attleboro's children.To bad you feel that the Superintendent should be able to ruin the schools and hid all the turmoil from the public.I am glad we have a few that want this out in the open so that we can see the issues.Hiding rapes at school, threats and attempts at kidnapping should not be kept from the parents.I also want to add Ken Parent to the list of helping the parents.I know he has not supported the Superintendent in her destruction and he needs to be commended as well. As for Larson, Oneill, Murphy and Zito.They just kept saying yes to the superintendent, not even caring about how the issues effected our children. it is my hope that this bunch of four dumb founded individuals throw in the towel and realize they are not doing what is best for the children of Attleboro. They do not possess the intelligence nor substance to be a school committe member.
High School Teacher June 22, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I have also talked to the committee members that are being accused of being "Pia haters" and what come out of their mouths are " I am here to support the children of the district and to make sure they get the best education possible." I have never heard one member say that they hated Pia and want her gone. Do not spread false rumors city watcher. If you want to start a slander game, then state your real name and then people can put the truth out there about you. It sounds if you are one of the people that the Superintendent call out when she needs back up. I say this because the only good things you have to say pertain to the Superindent, not about our children, schools or the district. Please do not spread lies. Stick to the facts and your opinion, not slander and deliberate misrepresentation of reputable community members. At least these members had the courage to stand up for all the children in our district. We are somewhat cowardly in comparison. We hide behind alias and put down people in a posting. If we had half their courage we would confront them face to face and address our concerns. I know for a fact that people posting here have not contacted the committees members they are bashing. I called them, and they have not heard from any of you. If you have a problem call them and get the truth. I have confided in them as a High School teacher and thanked them for finally putting and end to Dr. Durkin's contract. We are honestly better off without her.
city watcher June 22, 2012 at 02:28 PM
My apologies High School Teacher if you took offense to anything I've written. Just because I'm anonymous, and choose to remain that way for the sake of my children, doesn't mean that what I've personally heard is not true. I'm not out to slander anybody. What I said are facts. Not my opinion. I personally heard the words "hate" and "evil" come out of not one, but 2 members. Of course the ones who said it are going to staunchly deny saying those things and sugarcoat it by saying they would never say such a thing and are doing what's best for the children. I commend the job they are doing which is stepping up and taking action, but I commend the job that Durkin has done as my daughter has benefited greatly by the courses that were implemented during her tenure. But, I also don't agree with certain things that Durkin has done. It goes both ways. I have absolutely no reason to spread false rumors.
Golly Gee June 22, 2012 at 03:00 PM
It's just absolutely terrible that Mr. O'Neil won't listen to you guys in Ward 3. I mean, who is he to ignore the thirty (or so) people commenting on this opinion post, when he represents thousands. This is a democracy! Majority rules, so the requests of the few with enough courage to speak out online in anonymity must be obeyed! I mean, thirty is more than one/half of seven thousand, right? And the fact the Pia Durkin didn't check with everyone involved at Willett school before making the decision to move Ms. Zinni is even worse. Do we really need to enforce the education of our SpEd children by moving a principal with background in that field to Thacher? My answer is no. The same goes for those darn folks who need assistance in learning English! This is America, we can't speak anything BUT English!
Ty Smith June 22, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Excuse me for saying I believe it takes intelligence to become am emergency r.n.,a lawyer, a respected business owner and a prov college education if I'm correct. And mr. Parent weighs his descions before a vote and also has education!!!!
Sarah Curtis June 22, 2012 at 08:09 PM
@ High School Teacher..WELL SPOKEN!! I was at the SC meeting 6/18/12, mom of a 5th grader @ Wamsutta.  I also spoke to Rick Foster which btw twisted the story around to suit Durkin and the APS. Stupid me to actually think "wow someone is actually going to help us", instead it didn't even print in the actual paper until a phone call from the other angry parent who was also in the story. 3 articles were done pertaining to the city schools "issues" and ours was the only one that didn't make it to print the first day. Really?? How corrupt is this?? I still have not had answers and we are talking serious issues and mulitple IEP violations and oh ya they definately punish the kids when they tell...what is that called again??? "NO-TATTLE TALE POLICY"!! Whatever to that!!!  And my punishment to my child for going to the SC meeting and The Sun Chronicle was us being told that someone (a kid) said he used Racial slurs more specific- JEW!! They should have done their homework better cause that's what our heritage is. And we have docs to prove not even the principle believed the allegations!! Really how far are we willing to let this unprofessional monster go?? Cause I'm done I say she should have been gone yesterday! I'll stand holding a petition anywhere anytime just say when!!! BTW Mr. Friedman heard u were looking for me...wanted to talk??  ..what are u waiting for??? Seems nobody wants to talk to me these days.  Conscious when bad eats u up that's why I don't lie!!!
Sarah Curtis June 22, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Correction*** And the schools punishment for going public!! We didnt allow any punishment as his disability does not benefit from such!!! Sorry apologizies in advance for anymore typos due to auto correct. Thanks
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Sarah, I will email you.
fact getter June 22, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Helen Johnson, yes Mr. Parent does weigh his decisions. That is why he does not support Pia also. I support him for this. He is not one of her puppets and also hold her accountable. I guess we agree on this. Ken is a supporter of the children and parents not the Superintendent and I would vote for him again because of this. This is why I did not vote for Mr. Levinson - he said yes to everything Pia said, not Ken he is not in her pocket. Btw Golly Gee Mr. Oneil represents his ward - He is the Ward 3 SC elect, he does not represent 7,000 people. Do you even undersatnd how the voting for SC works? His ward votes him in, not the 7,000 people in Attleboro. He is elected to represent his Ward - this is why he is on the SC. The At-Large members are representatives of the 7,000 people. This is the difference between a Ward Rep and an At-Large Rep. So, Oneil did fail his Ward. Not just 30 people. It is a lot more than that. And as one person stated above, this article just poured salt on the wounds. Who wants a Ward rep who disregards his Ward but represents the supporters of the Superintendent. People of his Ward want a Ward rep. Bye Bye Oneil.
R. Phillips June 22, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Golly Gee, Ms. Zinni was not a SPED school for a reason. She can't handle it. Former Principal of Thacher, Ms, Sabra did not have the SPED background, but was an excellent Principal. She could handle it. Ms. Zinni could supposedly be a SPED Director, but won't follow through with it, because she can't handle it. My daughter is a SPED student at Thacher and this is going to be the worst thing for that school. Ms. Zinni is excellent at Willett because this is where she can exceed. She will not shine at Thacher and this is unfair to her and the students. If she was allowed to stay at Willett, she would have brought even more excellence to that school. At Thacher and without Pia holding her hand, she will fail. This is sad, because she is a good Principal at a smaller, less complex school. The Superindent will now ruin another good person, just to try to cover up for running principals and teachers out of the district. I am so glad this will be stopping. Hopefully the rest of our good teachers will hold out for just one more year. Relief is on the way. Thank you for being there for our children. There is light at the end of the horizon. You were heard by some and a change was made per your requests. Mrs. Sabra please come back when we get a new Superintendent - the parents will support you. This is a joyous time for the Attleboro Schools.
Sarah Curtis June 22, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Oh please do!!! I understand...this is to "open" of a place to discuss things huh?? Just remember I don't do secrets or lies!!!
Sarah Curtis June 26, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Listen I want answers....Where are they??? I don't like being ignored??? Any other parents out there want to chat about the school committee and their failure to assist us with major serious issues??? Aren't they the Superintendent's boss???? And who's the SC's boss??? Cause I'm done, over it!!!!!! This is going further than the Sun Chronicle this time!!!
Art Myer June 26, 2012 at 04:32 PM
All these people commenting here don't know the truth about C. Zinni. If you want the truth, go to one of the ASEPAC meetings. There is not a single parent who says anything good about Mrs. Zinni. These are the parents of special education kids who need help. Mrs. Zinni makes them feel like they and there kids are crap and scum of the earth. This is the real Caterine Zinni. Don't believe me? please attend an ASEPAC meeting.
Jerry Chase July 03, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Why am I thinking that the residents of Ward Three are missing Robert Hill ?
Jerry Chase July 03, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Is it fair to think that, under Mrs. Durkin, Attleboro Public Schools have had "more turnovers than a bakery" in terms of educational professionals leaving said system? Does not this high turnover rate speak ill of top managment, by definition?
David Bozzi July 03, 2012 at 10:26 PM
"This issue is about consistency, transparency, collaboration and providing the best support services for our children." - Thank you. Exactly.


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