Warwick School Superintendent Lynn Dambruch is mystified by reports that a group of teachers passed a vote of no confidence in her and Assistant Superintendent William McCaffrey last week and why …
Warwick School Superintendent Lynn Dambruch is mystified by reports that a group of teachers passed a vote of no confidence in her and Assistant Superintendent William McCaffrey last week and why Veterans Middle School teachers don’t plan to attend a school open house set for Sept. 21.
“This is disappointing, both Bill and I have devoted our careers to schools,” Dambruch said Tuesday. She said she had not been “officially notified” of the vote but learned of it through “the grapevine.” She had no details of the number of those voting or the grievances teachers have with the administration. She believes the vote was taken at a union meeting to update members of ongoing negotiations for a three-year contract.
WTU President Darlene Netcoh responded “union business” when asked for details about the vote and grievances with the administration.
In a statement released Wednesday she said, "It is unfortunate that Superintendent Dambruch does not understand why the teachers in this district took a vote of no confidence in her and in Assistant Superintendent McCaffrey. Her lack of understanding shows that she is out of touch with the teachers. Perhaps the massive turnout of Warwick teachers at last night's (Tuesday) school committee meeting will help her understand, because through their presence and public comments the teachers demonstrated and articulated their dissatisfaction."
The union and the Warwick School Committee agreed to a one year contract last month. Negotiations for a contract beginning next August started almost immediately thereafter. Talks are slated to continue on Sept. 20, Dambruch said.
Parents learned that teachers planned not to attend the Vets Middle School open house in an online post Thursday from Principal Jeff Goss. In the post he writes, “due to unforeseen circumstances related to teacher attendance, teachers will not be present for this event.” Goss goes on to say a “Principal’s Night” will be held Thursday, Sept. 21 from 6 to 7 p.m. where information will be shared on what was presented during the 6th grade orientation night.
Teachers boycotted school open houses during times when they don’t have a contract and “worked to rule.” Dambruch was unable to say if teachers planned to boycott other open houses. Netcoh would not say if the planned boycott of the Vets open house is in any way related to the no confidence vote.
Neither Dambruch nor David Testa, chair of the school committee, recall an instance where teachers collectively refused to attend an open house when they have a contract. Dambruch said open house attendance is not a contract requirement and frequently some teachers miss them because of other commitments.
“I can’t wrap my mind around it,” said Testa. He can’t understand why teachers would boycott an open house knowing that the school administration will appear before the City Council on Sept. 18 to request the release of $350 million in voter approved bond funds to build new Pilgrim and Toll Gate High Schools. The union supported the bond issue.
Referring to the large turnout of teachers at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, Dambruch said she hopes they turn out for Monday’s council meeting in support of the new schools.
Mayor Frank Picozzi was perplexed by the vote of no confidence. He called it “disappointing.”
Dambruch said she and McCaffrey were invited to attend the union meeting to review the current contract, but did not. She noted that she and Union President Darlene Netcoh agreed not to negotiate in public.
In response to Beacon inquiries, Dambruch released the following statement Wednesday, “It is disappointing to learn through the grapevine and the Beacon’s inquiry that a small segment of the Warwick Teachers’ Union took a vote of no confidence in us. It is confusing to us that the WTU Leadership has engaged in these actions while they have a current contract that doesn't expire until August 31, 2024. Bill and I have both dedicated our professional careers to the Warwick Public Schools. We started as teachers and have worked to our current positions and have been committed to supporting students, teachers and the school community. As a leadership team we have spent over two years building relationships with all stakeholders and will continue to work with them to move Warwick Schools forward into 21st century learning. It is our hope that all parties will continue to negotiate a successor contract in good faith.”