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Setting the Record Straight

I have always been honest and will continue to promote transparency in regards to any issues involving our schools.

I am writing this editorial to set the record straight regarding .

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 , 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 barbaracraw@ymail.com.

Barbara Craw is an at-large member and secretary of the Attleboro School Committee.

Buck Farack July 19, 2012 at 01:32 AM
That same vast majority that refuses to post with their real names?
Gretchen Robinson July 19, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I post with my real name. The coward and trolls post opinions they are afraid or ashamed to post and stand behind. This is no way to run a discussion. If you are ashamed to put your name to a post, then don't post it. You are doing some shameless pandering to the truth with nameless posting, working out of some personal bias and/or agenda that you won't stand behind.
Gretchen Robinson July 19, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Well said, Adam. Time for the SC committees who keep wrangling, blaming, stirring things up, to Grow Up. They're the adults now, though you wouldn't know it sometimes.
Briana Auclair July 19, 2012 at 06:48 AM
Whats so hard about saying what you mean, meaning what you say and owning up to those words? They have no weight when you hide behind a monitor and refuse to admit who you are.
Jacqueline L. Romaniecki July 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Not sure of your sources, but this particular statement is NOT accurate at all.
Buck Farack July 19, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Briana, yet you continue to read them and comment on them ; )
BD July 19, 2012 at 02:35 PM
i have commented previously about using full names. There are thousands of reasons people would not want to use their full names. Give it up people as we are all educated adults who understand that even if you post what looks like a full, real, name - it may not be an actual name. For some people it comes down to personal privacy, protection for their children and/or protection for themselves perhaps from a dangerous situation in their past????? Really, I believe the full name thing needs to be given up. I am losing faith in the patch when people rip each other for not using full names - people who do not/cannot/won't for their own reasons are still entitled to an opinion and voice thanks to our constitution. Jon Friedman, if you are a journalist in the blazing new world of the internet - you realize this and should be standing up for it, not bending to all the screams from the user community.
Buck Farack July 19, 2012 at 03:11 PM
BD, I wholeheartedly agree. Give it up already. If people only posted with their full names then it would be the same handful of people posting over and over again and the reader comments section would become irrelevant just like they did on the Sun Chronicle. What's stopping someone from using a real sounding name as a pseudonym? I'd rather see a pseudonym. I feel that many of the people who post with their real full names are so agenda driven that they don't care if everyone on the planet knows their thoughts, however not everyone feels the same way. They then adopt a mantle of superiority because they let everyone know who they are and what they're thinking. They also complain about people posting with pseudonyms while at the same time responding and engaging them in the discussion. Who are the smart ones here? There are a few people that use their real names who if I met at a social function I'd laugh at inwardly at them and not take them seriously right at all. This is an online discussion forum people, keep it in perspective.
Emcee of Seekonk July 19, 2012 at 03:39 PM
What would Mark Twain say about all this?
Gretchen Robinson July 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Maybe Briana and others hope the anonymous ones will own up to the need to speak /write using their own name. The smearing comments like yours, Buck, serve to silence the decent people who use their names. That tactic is nasty, calling someone by name, disparaging them. I have been on the receiving end of some of those nasty remarks by this same person above, so I know they sting. Some people on forums like this will use their name but they can only tear people down and smear their ideas. Come on folks, we're better than this.
BD July 19, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Gretchen, I usually am very much in concert with your views, however; please see my post above. i am not a coward nor a troll, however; do not post with my full name. I have my reasons which have nothing to do with my opinion or view point on anything. I realize this is my personal situation and many others have other reasons, some good and some bad. But it is up to us as educated readers of these blogs to filter what we think of the poster's comments and leave the rest behind. All I am saying is please don't assume that everyone is posting without a full name because they are a coward or troll and don't want to own up to their opinion....they may have a million other reasons and if you haven't walked a mile in their shoes, it is hard for you to know exactly where there reasons come from. It also doesn't mean they should be made to keep quiet and sit in a corner in the dark for the rest of their lives, perhaps they have done that for long enough.....
Buck Farack July 19, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Gretchen, why don't you let Briana speak for herself instead of offering conjecture on what you think her motivations are? Poor poor Gretchen the victim of smearing, disparaging comments and nasty tactics. That's pretty comical considering you just called us cowards & trolls. Why don't you post a link to some of those disparaging, nasty comments I have made about you? Seriously, I'd love to see them and I'm sure everyone else would too.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) July 19, 2012 at 04:10 PM
"Emcee," Mark Twain is not a good example. He didn't hide behind his alias. He was out and about in the country and people knew who he was. Gretchen, your post above is correct. This is the very reason people are encouraged to use their real names.
Gretchen Robinson July 19, 2012 at 04:12 PM
BD: Point well taken. Thank you for expanding my understanding. I would not want anyone to feel silenced. My teaching of writing classes at the Attleboro Public Library was all about helping people find their voice and, for many, to break some of the silence they had lived with for too long. Buck: your argument, at least to me, lacks logic. Briana and others venturing into posting here: come on in. The more voices the merrier. And if someone slams you, they're just being rude. BD's post is an example of disagreeing without being disagreeable.
Jerry Chase July 19, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Since "a clock that's not running is right twice a day", here's the rare occasion in which I concur with Gretchen. But I also appreciate the rationales of others who choose to NOT use their real names. Plainly, they have reasons . . and they also have that right. Finally, I also appreciate Jonathan's plea for posters to use their real name, because it tends to increase civility and necessary self-policing, toward an improvement in thoughtful discourse and focus on ideas and opinions rather than personalities.
Gretchen Robinson July 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Buck, Briana is new to this post (I may be mistaken). I always like to encourage people to write. For years I taught writing workshops at the Attleboro Library and it was always about helping people find their voice in a new way and break some of the silence they had lived with for so long. So my words are consistent with who I am in the world. And just so you know I don't suffer fools gladly and will rebut attacks made on me. In this I am modeling for others who don't post much. I had to learn the hard way to stick up for myself and what I think. Buck, you use your own name (I assume) so that post wasn't even addressed to you and I already responded to BD and said he/she gave me a new understanding. So find something else to complain about.
Buck Farack July 19, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Gerry, while I agree in general with what you wrote, I don't see any more civility from those posting with their real names than from those who don't.
Gretchen Robinson July 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Jerry, maybe you're like the clock who is right twice a day. My clock seems to be working fine.... In any case, I appreciate the overture of peace and agree that using your real name increases "civility" and encourages "self-policing."
Adam Edward July 19, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Thank you, finally somene else read what I did. How easy would it have been to vote to start a committee? how easy would it have been to wait to talk about this with Dr. Durkin before announcing it at a public meeting? I just feel like a couple people felt disrespected so they in turn disrespected others. Seems kinda like an eye for an eye type of deal. In the end I would love to read an article about the school committee that has something to do with making our schools better instead of all this mud slinging.
Emcee of Seekonk July 19, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Mark Twain used earlier 'nom de guerres' (as he called them) before he settled on Mark Twain. The list of authors using pen names are as endless as the reasons why. The internet which is open to all kinds of people, good and bad, is a place to be wary of, hence the use of aliases by most commenters. It is what it is.
Gretchen Robinson July 19, 2012 at 05:51 PM
maybe these postings with actual names are less civil but in the past anonymous postings are slash and burn--and run. No accountability.
Briana Auclair July 19, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Not sure why my opinion is so important but okay. I fought and gave up many of my rights for the 1st Amendment. I won't give up that right, you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands (given my love for the 2nd Amendment, it'll be quite a fight) and the way I see it- Freedom of speech is the freedom to say what you want without fear. That's not to say that it doesn't change people opinion of you and such but I fought to make sure all of YOU maintained that right and hiding behind your screens "because you think school faculty will treat you child differently" or "having these opinions could get me in trouble." With who? The police are not going to come knocking on your door because you don't agree with the mayor. Your child cannot be harassed by Dr. Durkin (while I may not think the world of her I believe she'd never stoop to that level). I can say with 99.9% assurance that all those not using their names are not in witness protection. You are living with false fear. You want fear? Go to the middle of a street in Afghanistan and shout how much much you hate the government. THAT'S fear. You have a right afforded to you that people pray, hope and dream of and yet here you all hide. You disappoint me. One Google search and you all know who I am, I have just as much to lose as anyone, if not more. My opinions can lose me customers. If I didn't believe in what I say, I wouldn't say it and because I stamp my name on it I am less likely to say something I'll regret later.
Briana Auclair July 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Gretchen I do believe that his name is a political statement. Reverse the first letter of his first name and the first letter of his last name and you'll see what I mean. It could be a coincidence but I don't think I'm wrong. ;)
BD July 20, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Briana, I respectfully would like to thank you for your service to our country. You have bravery and courage that I do not have. Thank you for fighting for my rights abroad. However; as I said before, I cannot post my full name for my own reasons. I have more at stake than customers and will not jeopardize that. I thought that I had something to bring to the table in these discussion as I am fully invested in the Attleboro Schools and their future. I am not happy with the way things have been going and have an opinion that I want to share in these forums. I am not in a position to run for the SC myself. There are many people who know me personally and understand my position. At this point, I feel that I should no longer post if the back last againt not using full names is this stong and that is sad. I have been silenced as my personal choice is not to use my full name. If I cannot be respected as an individual with her own mind and opinions irregardless of my 'name' then it is not worth my energy trying to convince anyone otherwise.
Buck Farack July 20, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Well Gretchen, I guess this debunks your conclusion that people like Briana are being "silenced" (your word) by those of us using pseudonyms. She's definitely not someone who's going to fit easily into the victim category. Briana, thank you for your service.
Emcee of Seekonk July 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I often think TheFan is Gretchen in drag. We are all capable of being devious. There is a great disappointment in Barack Obama, but hatred and racism, I don't think so.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) July 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
We have gone way off topic here. Please get back on track.
Gretchen Robinson July 21, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I was inviting those who just read to join in and my method was to mentor Briana. BF I will not use your pseudonym. What is your real name? Do you get a high out of innocently cursing the president. Shame on you.
Jerry Chase July 22, 2012 at 08:25 PM
"mentor"? I'd say the 'mentoring' needs to be in the other direction.

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