October 30, 2014
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Time to conduct search for superintendant
LETTERS

To the Editor:

Regarding your article on Feb. 7, "Schools to decide whether to mount superintendent search," it's good to know that we have a School Committee member (Jennifer Ahearn) who is advocating for a search for the open top job at Warwick Public Schools (WPS).

It seems to fly in the face of common sense that she was told by the WPS legal counsel that it was inappropriate to ask at an open School Committee meeting if the search for the new superintendent position could be put on the agenda. When will it be considered appropriate to address the vacancy? Parents want to know this vacancy will be approached in a timely and thorough way. There has not been any information flowing from the WPS administration to the parents on this issue and the previous superintendent left in September.

It may be that the acting superintendent, Dr. D'Agostino, is the best person for the job, but there should be a search and interview process so that we know we have the right person leading our schools, especially during a time of many proposed changes. To do this process right, it will likely take some time, so the first step is putting this item on the agenda. It's February, why are we waiting?

Deirdre Weedon
Parent of students at Cedar Hill


Comments
2 comments on this item

Amen.

Something is rotten at the school committee.

I was at the meeting in which Ms Ahern asked about the superintendent search. She didn't ask during the meeting for the topic to be on the agenda. She asked to discuss it at that current meeting. It would have been in violation of state laws for a discussion on hiring a new superintendent at that meeting. Had she asked prior to the meeting, it could have been added to the agenda and would have been able to be discussed openly. I did not believe it was inappropriate for her to ask to have it put on the agenda, and that is exactly what she did. Unfortunately, her request to have it on the agenda didn't matter because they have already voted to have a new superintendent until 2014.

I talked with Jen several times after the election to explain about how to get agenda items on the meeting agenda. She either didn't listen or her requests were ignored. I wish it had been done. Rather than getting the public input regarding a superintendent search, the committee voted to make Dr. D"Agostino the superintendent. I hope the public attends the regular school committee meeting to let them know that they were not given an opportunity for input.

I do believe that the school committee is not following its own policy. I believe there was a policy in place that prior to hiring someone for a position that it be posted and others be given a chance to apply. I know this because I was on the committee when the policy was created. I do believe that there would not be enough time to find a replacement for the start of the new school year.

There should have been no rush to hire a superintendent. As a matter of fact, there was an interim Assistant to the Superintendent in place for nearly 3 years before hiring a Director of Secondary Education and removing the Interim Assistant to the Superintendent position. I believe it would have been fine to leave Dr D'Agostino in an interim position for another year or until a permanent Superintendent could be found. Part of the problem is that there are 2 new members on the committee and 2 members who were newly elected in 2010. The committee only has 1 member who has a history. There is one reason to be able to make a quick decision and that is in the event of an emergency. The schools were running with an acting superintendent for months so I don't see where there was an emergency.

My suggestion would be for the new members to read the policies before they vote on them. I always did my homework prior to voting and they promised they would too during the election. Hold them to it. In the last 2 months they have voted to extend the WISE union contract with raises for employees without even reviewing the budget. 18 days after taking office they voted 3-2 to extend the WISE union contract and raise the expenses of the schools a quarter of a million dollars per year. Where will this money come from?

They hired a new superintendent without posting the position. I believe 2 members of the committee didn't know they were even in negotiations with the WISE union. I know that 18 days prior when I was on the committee, no discussions or negotiations were taking place.

I wonder who knew they were hiring a new superintendent? I believe Dr D'Agostino will be a good person to be in the position for the time period, he has all the necessary qualifications and has done a good job so far. My only concern was that the contract was extended without securing a concession for the schools. It seems to me the Union got everything and the schools received nothing in return and that is not negotiating in good faith for the taxpayers of Warwick.

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