Megan D. Lambert St. Marie: School Committee must address Morris question

Published: 08-02-2023 6:55 PM

As an Amherst resident and mother of seven current and past Amherst Regional students, I write to support the Amherst Pelham Education Association’s call for the Regional School Committee “to fast-track its planned August meeting due to what it terms “deep-seated concerns” surrounding district leadership that have been sparked by [Superintendent] Morris returning to his job” [“Amherst regional superintendent Morris pledges backing for LGBTQIA+ students, hires behavioral administrator,” gazettenet.com, July 24].

Union President Chris Herland’s comments get to the heart of the matter when he says, “‘Transparency, action, and reassurances are what the community wants and deserves. The school committee, as the elected representatives, should listen and respond accordingly.’”

Even though she explains that her hands are tied, I’m grateful that in her July 15 blog post, Regional School Committee member Jennifer Shiao demonstrates her desire to “listen and respond accordingly,” writing: “As an elected public body, the RSC only meets when called to a meeting by the chair. I have clearly stated to RSC Chair Ben Herrington that I feel strongly that the RSC should meet, as soon as possible, to discuss the superintendent.”

I join Shiao and many others with ARPS ties in requesting an emergency school committee meeting to vote on Morris joining four other ARPS employees on administrative leave pending a Title IX investigation report.

To do otherwise perpetuates the abdication of leadership and care that student reporters from The Graphic exposed; exacerbates inequities (especially since all four staff members placed on administrative leave are BIPOC employees, while Morris is white); and risks dooming Morris to failure under circumstances of profound mistrust and hurt.

Finally, since recent teacher contract votes were held in executive session (denying the public knowledge of how individual committee members voted), I further ask that an emergency meeting be held in person, with a public vote, and with public comment. I thank committee members Irv Rhodes and Shiao for consistently voting against executive session votes on the teacher contract, and I hold out hope for healing in our community while knowing this is only possible with transparency and accountability.

Megan D. Lambert St. Marie

Amherst

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