Sara Eddy: Superintendent should not be back

Published: 08-14-2023 7:24 PM

I am an Amherst native, the product of the Amherst public schools and the mother of two children who went through the school system. I have been appalled and infuriated by the news of transphobia and homophobia in the Regional Middle School, and was delighted when Assistant Superintendent Doreen Cunningham and members of her staff were put on leave.

I am, however, outraged that Michael Morris has been reinstalled in office without a vote or public comment [“Morris returning as superintendent,” Gazette, July 14]. I have a great deal of sympathy for those who support Morris: He has been a steady and skilled administrator for our schools for many years, and he has had my respect.

But we cannot allow his return at this point: Too much has happened, and too many people (including Mr. Morris) are implicated in the events of the past few years. We have seen extensive evidence that Morris knew what was happening and passed the buck — and he passed it over and over again right back to Cunningham, the very person responsible for the harm being done to children in our community.

We also have evidence that he lied to the Amherst public about what he knew and when.

This is not the leader we need for this time. At very least Morris should be placed on leave, exactly as Ms. Cunningham and others have been, because he too is a responsible party in what has happened.

It does not look good that the only white person involved in this is the only one welcomed back into the fold. It does not look good that he took his medical leave as soon as things got uncomfortable, and now returns when it seems like the fury has died down and the School Committee is out of session.

It does not look good that the APEA voted no confidence in Morris, but the School Committee sees fit to ignore that vote. It does not look good that the results of the Title IX investigation, which includes an investigation into his involvement, will be delivered directly to Morris himself — a direct conflict of interest that does not serve our students or our schools.

We are at a time in U.S. history when queer people, especially those who are trans, are under attack. It is time to double down in support of their rights, and to extend generous care for their needs in our community. I urge the Regional School Committee to hold a public meeting and put Michael Morris on leave.

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Sara Eddy