UMass Grad Student Matthew Cunningham gleefully pointing out make up of crowd
The divide in the room last night was stark. In the back: folks of color, many of them standing, with a smattering of young hipsters who epitomize the social justice movement; and in the front: well dressed, mostly white, middle aged parents who came out to support the schools.
Carol Sharick to Principal Jackson: "You have my heart."
School Committee members got a taste (and smell) of what the meeting would be like as about 50 demonstrators greeted them outside the entrance to the High School holding candles as the smell of incense filled the cold air.
About as many showed up for candle light vigil prior to meeting as on Tuesday night
Trevor Baptiste welcomes the largest crowd in memory to a RSC meeting
Rookie Chair Trevor Baptiste welcomed the crowd and said he would allow 30 minutes for public comment, twice the time allotted on the agenda but the Committee would not respond to anything concerning Carolyn Gardner. A sign up sheet was passed around and about a dozen-and-a-half speakers indicated their interest in addressing the Committee.
Mark Jackson whispers to Maria Geryk
Supporters talked about the positive influence school officials have had on their children, protesters talked about how unfairly Carolyn Gardner was treated -- not just by an unknown (?) troll but also by school officials who did not acquiesce to her demand for a $500,000 settlement.
Demonstrators read Internet petition of support signed by over 400 individuals
After 8 speakers had their say including a group reading, Mr. Baptiste, who previously championed a l-o-n-g-e-r public comment period when then Chair Lawrence O'Brien tried to restrict it to only 15 minutes, said he would hear only 3 more speakers.
Lawrence O'Brien (probably happy not to be Chair) Trevor Baptiste, Chair
A committee member quickly pointed out that it should be a committee decision, not just his. Katherine Appy said it was an important issue and all should be heard. The committee quickly agreed.
The theater continued.
Vira Douangmany Cage without a spear, just "community"
Main organizer of the Justice For Carolyn movement Vira Douangmany Cage once again played the "gag order" card. Although she did not seem to direct that at Chair Trevor Baptiste who had earlier told the crowd the School Committee simply would not respond to anything concerning the MCAD complaint filed by Carolyn Gardner due to lawyers orders -- both School District attorney Gini Tate and the insurance company attorney.
Brother Muhammad cites "slashed tire" incident that never happened
Sonji Johnson-Anderson was one of the last to speak but certainly not the least as she went twice as long as the allotted three minutes, and only in the last few seconds did Mr. Baptiste attempt to bring her to a close.
She read statement after statement of support and sympathy for Carolyn Gardner that School Committee members or school administrators had shown her prior to the MCAD complaint being filed.
Sonji Johnson-Anderson reading back quotes to the School Committee
Of course that could also be used someday in the school's defense to demonstrate how much attention and concern everyone showered on Ms. Gardner throughout the sad affair.
Carol Ross: "That's who I'm fighting for: our kids"
By 7:15 all the speakers had their say and Mr. Baptiste brought Public Comment to a close. Well over half the room started to undulate and Baptiste implored them to stay and see the work this Committee does for the children of the Region. All to no avail.
Crowded room 6:05 PM (at peak about 120 people in the audience)
Majority of crowd leaving 7:17 PM
By 8:30 PM only 17 remainedThe meeting continued well after the scheduled 8:00 PM finish time posted on the agenda and nerves seemed a tad frayed towards the end. Some minor bickering broke out between Superintendent Maria Geryk and Trevor Baptiste and Amilcar Shabazz over timelines for budget items and the evaluation of the Superintendent.
Finance Director Sean Mangano bearing bad news
Brought on, no doubt, by both the late hour and the bad news presented earlier by rookie Finance Director Sean Mangano that the Governor's most recent budget cuts now put the Region in an even deeper hole, increasing cuts required from $700,000 to an even $1 million.
At the conclusion of the meeting, as the clock struck 10:00 PM, member Rick Hood stated for the record that the Committee had, essentially, done good.
They had come together as one big family, under trying circumstances (some would even argue, embattled) to do the demanding work for their #1 constituents, the children.
Kind of like that redneck (if I dare use such a racial stereotype) brotherhood statement, "Only I can beat on my little brother."