Friday, May 6, 2016

A Growing Storm

Maria Geryk at 3/31 Finance Committee meeting with Mike Morris, Sean Mangano

Embattled School Superintendent Maria Geryk is apparently on the agenda for an executive session with the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee next week, presumably to discuss a charge lodged against her by single-mom parent Aisha Hiza who was trespassed from all Regional School property by the Superintendent on March 15th after advocating for her bullied child.

 Click to enlarge/read

Last night the Pelham School Committee went into executive session to discuss the matter.  Maria Geryk did show up for that but only after the Committee had gone into the protective cocoon of an executives session.

 Pelham School Committee went into executive session.  Chair Tara Luce recused herself

The last time Maria Geryk appeared in a public meeting was back on March 31st at the Finance Committee meeting with Assistant Superintendent Mike Morris and Finance Director Sean Mangano to speak against Article 38.

That citizens petition article requests $40K to fund cost estimates for renovating two elementary schools rather than blindly supporting one new mega school.

Two weeks later the Finance Committee continued discussion of Article 38 with Morris and Mangano present, but not Geryk.

And on Wednesday night for the first time in her five-year tenure as Superintendent she was MIA on the floor of Town Meeting when the Elementary School budget was presented and voted on.

137 comments:

Anonymous said...

Set loose the bullies, and stonewall the victims and their families. Political Correctness will not protect you. Reap what you sow.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, the first part of that paragraph is more significant than the second -- to negotiate contract with nonunit personnel.

I suspect they will be "negotiating" (i.e. approving) a "buyout" of her contract and she'll be gone after the meeting. How much this will cost the town remains to be seen.

I'll add this: all the gratuitous attacks on my mental health got me thinking -- she's done some jaw-droppingly stupid things that I attributed to a combination of arrogance & ignorance, but what if she really is mentally ill? Has she been to work? (Like her salary, her timecards (including use of sick & vacation time) is a matter of public record.

And the other part about the second reason is that any person whom they wish to discuss (i.e. Hiza) has an absolute right to be there, they can't go into executive session otherwise. It's in the law.

Unless, of course, it's the mental health, character, etc. of Geryk they wish to discuss -- and that is explicitly other than aspects of her job performance, which you CAN'T go into ex ses to discuss. The Sunderland Selectmen learned that a while back.

And we don't know what happened in Pelham last night -- aren't a few persons on the PSC also on the ARSC? It would be quite reasonable for such a person to request an emergency meeting of the other body were he/she/it to learn of something of concern.

WERE I to be scheduling a meeting to the mental health of a superintendent, with a possible buy-out or early/medical retirement involved, I'd word it exactly the way it was.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that the Geryk family has talked about moving overseas after she steps down as superintendent. Perhaps they want to make this change sooner than later. It is time for some new ARPS leadership.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't the Exec Session be related to Geryk's lawyer's concerns about the public comment period at the last Regional School Committee, the critiques of her in open session, and the conduct of the Regional SC chair?

I wouldn't believe that she is resigning or taking a leave until/if she does.
Does anyone remember how many years are left on Geryk's current contract?

Larry Kelley said...

Could be. That's why I said "apparently".

Her contract is up June 30, 2018

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the superintendent's contract automatically renew for another 12 months unless she is notified far in advance that the School Committee will not be renewing her contract?

Even another two years, until June 2018, would be a pretty long time.

Dr. Ed said...

"Couldn't the Exec Session be related to Geryk's lawyer's concerns about the public comment period at the last Regional School Committee, the critiques of her in open session, and the conduct of the Regional SC chair?'

No, there is a different provision of the law for legal matters, and it isn't cited here.
And it can't be about Baptiste under the cited provisions after the lawyers letter.

Furthermore, were it to be about what was said about her (by non-SC members) they'd have to be permitted to attend.

It's far more likely that something happened in Pelham last night.

#Geryk's Gone

(Maybe as of July 1st, but she's gone).

Larry Kelley said...

According to her contract the Regional School Committee would have to vote 120 days prior to June 30, 2018 to not renew the contract otherwise it automatically extends by one year to June 30, 2019.

Anonymous said...

Larry, can one entity fire her without the other two agreeing?

Larry Kelley said...

Her contract is with Union 26 and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee.

So I'm pretty sure the Pelham School Committee does not have any power, but not sure if it takes both Union 26 and RSC to agree for something as major as that.

Larry Kelley said...

The contract can be terminated early by either side, but only with 120 days written notice.

Dr. Ed said...

If both committees concurrently supervise her and MAY forward parent concerns to her, it was perfectly appropriate for members of the public to petition the regional committee to do so.

I don't see where she has any legal authority over the Pelham School -- not if the Pelham SC hasn't designated it to her. In that case, the trespass letter is illegal.

And Larry, that's 120 days with good cause which, I presume, means the same thing as with a tenured teacher. Otherwise they have to pay for the whoe contract.

The interesting clause is incapacity -- and if she isn't showing up, she is.

Anonymous said...

Why should she be terminated? She has been performing her duties as superintendent. Those duties are not always popular.

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone listening to Mr Ed?

Anonymous said...

My hope is that no one is listening to him. We're talking about someone's career here that he is trying to tear to shreds. I wish Larry had a shred of a sense of responsibility and stopped posting Ed's libelous drivel.

Anonymous said...

I hope we haven't sunk to the level that a local public official has to die before we can see our way to reconnect with our humanity about the person.

Rich Morse

Rick Hood said...

"Why should she be terminated? She has been performing her duties as superintendent. Those duties are not always popular."

Correct. During the Superintendent Search (2010-2011) the consultant we used, who had tons of experience, said if a Superintendent is doing a good job, they can only last 3-5 years because they use up all their political capital in that time. Change pisses people off, no matter what the change is.

@Rich Amen to that.

This latest issue is yet another one that none of us know all the facts about, yet seem to love to assume what they are and what should or should not have been done. Not saying one side or the other is right on this one. Just saying we don't know and should not assume.

Anonymous said...

"advocating for her bullied child".

Larry, isn't there some journalistic etiquette that should be put in place here, as in "advocating for her allegedly bullied child"? The school system is hampered by privacy laws in their ability to release their version of the story. You are taking the version of the story being told that does not have such limitations. It is a version of the story from a party that has also chosen NOT to revoke their right to privacy, thereby preventing a fuller airing of the full picture.

Curious what your journalistic goals are on this piece?

Anonymous said...

Larry, do you do any research before you print material? What makes you believe the superintendent and the charge against her is on the agenda for next week's executive session? I think you're wrong.

Anonymous said...

Boy, Larry, I think you've got this story really wrong, and I think you have started a conversation all over the internet that evolves from the possibly false premise that Geryk's employment will be discussed at next week's executive session, and I think you might be very wrong about that. Sure, you said "apparently" somewhere, but there are people in the community talking online as if that's what's happening next Tuesday. You better check your facts.

Larry Kelley said...

We will know soon enough. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Talk about acting in ways that are not good for the schools and the parents and the children, there are former SC members online talking about next week's executive session as if they have any idea what it's about and what will be discussed. I guess they think, "I heard it from Larry on facebook, must be true."

Anonymous said...

I suspect Larry that are are working in cahoots with Baptiste because you always seem to have more insider trading information. Just this once can you tell us what you know?

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, he might think he knows something.

Anonymous said...

This whole situation has gotten quite out of hand. Maria has shown her community that she has lost it and those who continue to stand by her are simply making sure she doesn't get dragged away wrapped in a straight jacket. It is a pretty sad situation all around. Her whole team needs to take a hike but not before making apologies to both mother and child for the damage they have created. It is not only unconstitutional what they are doing, but illegal I am sure. The reason Maria did not request a court to hear this stay-away order is because it would have been laughed right out the door. The mother is an ARHS graduate for god's sake! She knows about social and racial justice since she was educated in a school system that strives to rise above systemic racism. They have not given the mother due-process but the attorney has the audacity to claim Maria's rights to due process are due?!. This is certainly a clear case of racism--but it has gone too far for Maria to pull out. My guess is if the sc members have half a brain they will pull her out of this sh** hole she's covered herself in (Fire her) and do right by the mother and child by apologizing and making things right by acknowledging the mess they've created and letting us(the community) know the steps they will take to never let this happen again! Trevor is a well-manipulated situation to divert our attention. It does not help that he is also of African heritage.

so wrong--and of course--anybody with eyes can see it is a racist act.

Dr. Ed said...

I do know something: Maria G has Fire Trucked-up badly. Really badly...

Anonymous said...

We'll see! ;)

Anonymous said...

Larry, when you said during an online conversation with a local attorney, "I'm pretty sure she (Geryk) will be represented by at least one competent attorney" and "it's all in executive session", what is all in executive session? At what executive session do you imagine Geryk will require legal representation during? This Tuesdays?

Larry Kelley said...

Yes. That would be my guess.

Anonymous said...

Being someone in the know in town adm. , I see a huge payday coming $$$ Maria's way...

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than Ed is the people who attempt to stifle him. Do upu think we need you to tell us ?

Anonymous said...

Larry doesn't have journalistic goals because he is not a journalist. He is a blogger. A blogger does not have to have journalistic integrity. Larry has been on the "hate Maria bandwagon" for years. His "reporting" on her has ALWAYS been skewed by his opinion.

Anonymous said...

Trevor has no one to blame for the situation he is in but himself. It is his words and actions that have placed him in a difficult spot. He has NEVER understood his role as chair of the regional committee. And that is what has gotten him in this situation.

Dr. Ed said...

You know, Geyrk hasn't revoked HER right to privacy.....

Anonymous said...

Regardless of who is right or wrong the whole thing looks terrible. You have a well paid administrator with all the power using highly paid lawyers (she does not have to pay for). The lawyers fight this battle for her while she hides behind I can't disclose why I acted like judge, jury, and executioner by giving this woman a stay away order. It looks so heavy handed and corrupt.

Then to further add insult to injury, when the people try to use their elected government, and yes I know Trevor is not perfect either, she uses those same attorneys to try and shut him down too.

I don't care how well Trevor knows the mom, the SC is the only recourse she has other than to hire attorneys out of her own pocket to fight. The SC is the voice of the people the SC should know parents well. The system is heavily and unfairly weighted for Maria with her town paid for lawyer at her disposal with a budget at her disposal. I only wish the likes of Andy Churchill or Rick Hood would have had the stones to stand up for me when I was having issues with the school system. Instead they just sat on their hands.

The system is far from fair and I hope that the actions from Trevor, right or wrong, help balance this inequity and get to the truth. Trevor is the crusader for justice you deserve in this narrative, but probably not the crusader you want.

Anonymous said...

Another person making wild assumptions without knowing all the facts. Wild assumptions based on hearing only one side of the story.

Dr. Ed said...


"Correct. During the Superintendent Search (2010-2011) the consultant we used, who had tons of experience, said if a Superintendent is doing a good job, they can only last 3-5 years because they use up all their political capital in that time. Change pisses people off, no matter what the change is."

I'd present a different side to this -- after 3-5 years, there is a tipping point where revulsion to the means employed exceeds desire to reach the ends sought.

"This latest issue is yet another one that none of us know all the facts about..."

You don't have to know the facts if all possible combinations of them lead to the same conclusion.

For example, a person is laying on the railroad tracks in the path of a train. You don't know WHY the person is there -- he/she/it could be drunk, suicidal, injured, etc. You don't need to know this because it will inherently lead to the same conclusion -- get the person off the tracks and/or the train to stop, doing this yourself and/or asking APD/AFD to do it.

There is no possible fact that would cause you to conclude otherwise, and hence there is no need for you to wait to learn them.

So too with Geryk -- her trespass was either legitimate or illegitimate, she either shouldn't have issued it or should have done more than just issue it -- as she is in the wrong either way, it doesn't matter which is true.

Anonymous said...

There are a large body of people who have dealt with half true and lies from this administration for a long time. So when a story like this comes out so do the torches and pitchforks. The schools had put a attitude in play in town and every little thing that happens brings out the ugly. Whether Maria deserves this brand of heat or not she help create the atmosphere of lies and mistrust, not her alone, but she was the ringleader. If you believe otherwise you are not paying attention. Maria made her bed, so enjoy. On the flip side this will all likely blow over in a few months.

Anonymous said...

If Maria Geryk was to leave does any one thing we will get a quality person to replace her? No one would touch this job with a 10 foot pole.

Anonymous said...

This community just can't contain itself: adult leaders in the community online talking out their butts, stating opinions and talking about the employment of their highest paid leader for the last 6 years, all based on wild speculations about what next week's executive session is about, by the town "journalist". Please, go look in the mirror, people of Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Larry, if you are 100%$ wrong about what you have reported online regarding next Tuesday's executive session and about our superintendent, will you publish a major retraction?

Anonymous said...

"During the Superintendent Search (2010-2011) the consultant we used, who had tons of experience, said if a Superintendent is doing a good job, they can only last 3-5 years because they use up all their political capital in that time. Change pisses people off, no matter what the change is."

This is both a sad statement and seems like an excuse. If no district can keep a Superintendent for more than 3-5 years than constant change will be inherent in every system. Every super want to do things their way. That change will put stress on the system, detracting from the value of education in every school.

Or is this just an excuse to promote the ever increasing trend of revolving door Superintendents moving from district to district getting raise after pay raise, under the line "you have to pay more to attract talent". If these leaders are so talented then why do thy job shop and jump every 3 to 5 years. If they are so talented to be worth it shouldn't every school be getting better and better. If that was true wouldn't charter & private schools be failing?

The 3-5 years part of the statement might be true, but using up all their political capital seems like a load that smells. The system is rigged people. Its rigged so a few thrive, with fat paychecks, while our children pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Larry, are you culpable in any way if it turns out you spread a huge online rumour about the SI and what Tuesday's Ex. Session is scheduled for?

Larry Kelley said...

No.

The word "apparently" absolves me.

Anonymous said...

Besides, they are supposed to be more specific.

Larry Kelley said...

Keep in mind only the Chair can place items on the agenda, so I find it kind of hard to believe Mr. Baptiste would place an Executive Session item on there to talk about his performance as Chair.

Anonymous said...

anon@9:33: by that logic "During the Superintendent Search (2010-2011) the consultant we used, who had tons of experience, said if a Superintendent is doing a good job, they can only last 3-5 years because they use up all their political capital in that time. Change pisses people off, no matter what the change is."

then Ms Geryk hasn't been doing a good job since she has lasted longer than 3-5 years....

Anonymous said...

Keep her....since we always overpay salaries and give contracts with huge severance it will just be cheaper to keep her...imagine what a doctor would cost.....

Anonymous said...

She's lasted six years so far as SI, with 2 years plus one more left in her contract, with something like 6 or 7 years in the Amherst regional system as an admin prior to that. 28 successful, positively evaluated years total in public education in MA so far.

Anonymous said...

Having worked in the district under not one, not two, not three, not four but at least five superintendent's over the past three decades, I think it is fair to say my opinion is based upon direct experience. I don't always agree with the current supt. but I do know that her focus is ALWAYS, ALWAYS on the students and what she (as the chosen official and leader) believes is in their best interest. You don't have to agree with her but you can not deny that she has given her all to our kids.

The outrageous, vengeful and down right mean personal attacks from commenters and the community continue to label our town and school district as a living nightmare. As someone said, there are very few who would want to be the supt in this district and those that do (as evidenced by the revolving door after Hochman and before Geryk) have been nightmares.

As someone recently said, which is very evident, the real problem with the Amherst community and thereby, the schools is the conversation and focus is almost always about adults and their stuff, and not about the kids. Tragic. So tragic.

I guess it is my fault for reading a blog that is focused on adult behavior and not on the good or the celebrations of our community and students. Larry - would you ever consider adding or including more about what is going well? The volume needs to be turned up there for a change. Walk through schools and see the amazing work happening every day! Students, even those with sign. behaviors, are the best and are our future. Let's invest and redirect some of the negative energy that is sucking our school community into a black hole even further. Just a thought for you to consider Larry.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:30:
" I do know that her focus is ALWAYS, ALWAYS on the students and what she (as the chosen official and leader) believes is in their best interest."

I feel as though her focus is on students, yes, but not all students equally or equitably. Each student should be entitled to an education that meets their learning needs, but under the current administration, it really does feel as though the education of some students is more important that the education of others. In-class differentiation and inclusion of SPED students in mainstream classrooms doesn't sufficiently serve all, or sometimes even many students, including in some cases, the SPED students the inclusion is supposed to support.

I have met with Geryk and other administrators and talked about my kids' school-related needs, learning and otherwise. But these multiple conversations have had little impact and leave me with the feeling that the district just doesn't care much about my kids. Other families feel the same which is part of why families have opted out and selected other schools or homeschooling for their kids. I feel torn but more and more my family thinks about doing the same.

Rick Hood said...

@12:30PM You could not be more right on.

Dr. Ed said...

Anon 12:30, the ends do not justify the means.

Even if your halcyon view is accurate (which I doubt), don't you care how it's accomplished?

Aldolph Hitler actually did some good things -- it's how he did them that was the issue. You know, that little thing called The Holocaust...

The ends do not always justify the means...

Anonymous said...

Geryk may care about students, but she doesn't seem to care much about parents and their points of view, even as the ones who know their children best.

Under Geryk it feels as though the administration wants as little real parent input and feedback as possible (yes, the district sends out surveys -- lots of surveys -- but what impact does the collected survey data ever have?). She has criticized parents at forums for just expressing their concerns, and taken people's comments very personally, when they don't need to be viewed that way. It seems as though Geryk and administrators under her like to control the public dialogue and discussions as much as possible, and to make as much decisions as they can without public, or even School Committee, input. Remember the major middle school schedule change, with cuts to world languages, music, and program: the district originally acted as though that had nothing to do with policy (for which the SC has oversight) and were just some minor changes. They were much more than that. And how about the peanut and nut ban? Also considered by Geryk and the district's lawyer to just be related to the every day business of running the schools, and not a policy neither. The SC and the public were only included in the discussions about the peanut/nut ban as an afterthought and after there was an outcry about such a big change without public and SC input.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:46 - You just proved Anon 12:30's point.

Rick Hood said...

”doesn't seem to care much about parents and their points of view”
Parent have LOTS of points of view - often conflicting. You can’t meet the needs of every parent’s point of view. She cares.

”She has criticized parents at forums for just expressing their concerns”
This is rare. And I never saw that unless the person’s facts were just completely wrong, and needed correction, or they were being extremely disrespectful.

”Remember the major middle school schedule change”
Yes, that is one I very much disagreed with the Superintendent on. But 12:30 said “I don't always agree with the current supt.” Same here. There are lots of people I don’t always agree with - it’s normal. One major disagreement in my 6 years on SC is probably to be expected. And she pushed it because she thought it would be good for the students. She may or may not be right, but that is why she did it, which is 12:30’s point.

There is plenty of truth to what you say, but you and others exaggerate it. Yes some things could be better. But the way to do that is work together, not throw things out and start over. Working together is a lot of work for everyone, and it’s hard to keep track and measure what is better or worse and to keep everyone’s eye on the ball. But there is no other way.

People seem to want some kind of Superman or woman to come in and save the day. Get rid of this one and the next one will be the answer. That won’t ever happen. You’ll just be in this same spot 5 years from now.

Nate Budington said...

I have a very short history with the superintendent but will add this: when my daughter suffered a major health event in 7th grade which involved two months of hospitalization, the schools (principal, superintendent and school nurse), were at our side from day one. When the event resulted in paraplegia, in a very short time the middle school had to make a very complicated set of accommodations involving bathrooms, reconfigured classroom spaces, personal assistance and academic adjustments. The middle school's program for accommodating my daughter was so thorough and well-supported, the rehabilitation hospital where we spent the last month of my daughter's hospitalization said it was a model response from a school system: they had never seen better. Ms Geryk, while not being directly involved in the minutia of the school's response, reached out from the beginning and has been responsive when we have made a few requests along the way. The school's continuing support has been extraordinary. This is not really connected to the thrust of this thread, but because so many people have taken this as an opportunity to criticize her leadership anonymously, I wanted to chime in with an example of where her leadership and her team has had a profoundly positive impact on one child and her family.

Anonymous said...

The adults who are engaging in this conversation of half truths and accusations - about which they know virtually nothing about - is nothing more than public bullying. This then becomes the role model for the children of our districts. That's it's ok to discuss someone's character, motives and say ugly things about them using half truths and lies. If you wonder why kids bully,it doesn't come naturally folks, it's learned!

Dr. Ed Pt 1 said...

Anon 1:59, you just proved Anon 1:46's point...

Anon 1:46, 1:36, 9:33, (etc.) --- While Maria & her Minions are becoming a train wreck of epic proportions, what you describe is pandemic throughout the state, and to a lesser extent, nationally. It's one of the things that The Short Lobster Company is working on, it's part of why we have Common Corpse & PARCC, and it is the main reason why we have seen an explosive growth in not only charter schools, but also private, religious, & home schools.

Parents seem to have this weird belief that they should have a say in the education of their children -- a view that most education professionals consider reprehensible.

Pre-tenure, when the Selectmen, and then School Committee hired all teachers (including "principal instructors") on a yearly basis, the parents had a very direct say in things. It also was political patronage and quite unprofessional which is what Horace Mann addressed around the turn of the last Century.

Education also used to exploit women in two ways -- prior to the late 1970's, the only professions open to women were teaching & nursing and hence women who today are bankers or engineers or doctors or lawyers instead were teachers.
Second, while male teachers could be married (and have kids), female teachers couldn't be. This is where the tradition of the "June Bride" came from, the wedding was in June so that she could finish the school year and complete her contract.

It took the combination of a shortage of male teachers caused by the Korean War, (which initially was Guard/Reserve guys) and the first of the Baby Boomers entering 1st Grade to get the marriage ban relaxed, and it took a combination of a second shortage in the late 1960's and the feminist movement to get the children ban relaxed. But well into the 1960's, pregnancy was "considered resignation of your position."

Hence the majority of the teachers were young women who had grown up in town, gone to college (usually for just 2 years, particularly prior to WW-II), and then taught in the same schools they'd attended for a few years until they got married. They either lived with their parents or "boarded" with a family, those who didn't get married often inherited the family home. (These were the "Miss So&So" teachers of the 1960's, '70's & '80's -- it's why they never married.) And even as late as the 1980's, while they then legally could, teachers were not expected to return from maternity leave.

Hence you not only had a LOT more turnover than now, but any teacher that a significant number of parents didn't like wasn't rehired the next year.

cont.

Dr. Ed said...

Part 2:

Hence you now have an insular school staff, and hence the attitude of 3:08. And parents DON'T know what is going on in the schools. The schools don't want them to.

What's changed recently has been the entry of the Psychologists, who have brought with them two things. First, a shift from the concept of conveying knowledge to that of behavioral modification. It's a conceptually different approach to teaching. Related to it is the concept of secrecy and -- somewhat -- deception. The PARCC exam, upon which students get a score but never know why, is an example.

Here in Massachusetts, a well-intended effort to reform the urban schools of large cities created a nightmare for places like Amherst. Superintendents were given a LOT of the powers that once belonged to the school committee, with the unintended consequence of uncontrollable supts continually being replaced by the same.

Parents have a right to be pissed, as do the taxpayers, and that's not bashing the profession.

After all, whose children are they?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Rick Hood and Nate Budington, for speaking up by name. I attended one of the hearings about the proposed school reconfiguration, and I thought Ms. Geryk was quite eloquent in explaining her support for this admittedly out-of-the-box proposal. Of course, reasonable people can disagree. The rhetoric, however, used by opponents in meetings has been tremendously confrontational, often in a very personal way. Sometimes we get shouting, or crying, or the manipulative ploy of having one's child come up and speak to the SC. Anything goes. It takes some intestinal fortitude to stand up and provide a different perspective in front of folks who are willing to do or say just about anything, including making reference to the skin color of previous speakers or SC members.

I too have my problems with some of what has happened in our schools over the past few years. I am concerned, for example, about the future of the incredibly fine music performance programs we've had in the schools, of which my daughter was a grateful beneficiary 2003-2011.

But the anger and vitriol directed at Ms. Geryk on this blog is so far over the top that it really defies rationality. And it simply doesn't ring true to me. I think what happens is we feel strongly that we are paying superintendents and other town officials extremely well. We then objectify those we've either hired or elected ("they can take it"), and they cease being fully human in our minds, just an office-holder receiving our tax dollars, not a person that we might do some serious emotional damage to.

It all contributes to a wider, more lasting impression that we in Amherst simply cannot play well with others, no matter who we bring in here professionally to run things. And if we duplicate this vicious, destructive public discourse with our Library Director and our new Town Manager, we might begin to acquire a reputation beyond our borders as a bit of a public cesspool of pious and anonymous know-it-alls. Then we might see increasingly, as happened last week, well-qualified professional talent come to visit our town, look at our hefty salaries, and nevertheless decide they are just fine where they are.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

I missed who came to our town last week and declined our hefty salaries?

Anonymous said...

The guy from vermont.

Dr. Ed said...

The guy playing two communities against each other????

Anonymous said...

Voice of reason - thank you Rich Morse!

Anonymous said...

It all contributes to a wider, more lasting impression that we in Amherst simply cannot play well with others, no matter who we bring in here professionally to run things


When and where did that start, what motivated it, who took part, how and why did it persist?

Anonymous said...

An analogy that escapes some is that the School Board is the SI's boss, and the parents and residents are the customers or clients. No other boss in this town, whether public or private, tolerates and allows the level of disrespect, and frankly abuse, toward their employee that the SI's boss tolerates and allows toward her. Any other boss in this town would try to protect their employee from personal attacks or inaccurate performance reports, and would have stood up already, if for no other reason than because it's bad for business all around. The SI isn't a politician, she's an employee, just like everyone else who is an employee of this town, so she should be treated with at least the same level of respect as any other, and be protected from unwarranted scrutiny and harassment, by her boss. Our board often seems to desire to promote, exacerbate, and encourage bad behavior toward their employee. There are civil and effective means of consistently and effectively evaluating and managing the SI's performance, just like there are for other department heads, at the School Boards disposal.

Anonymous said...

"Let's invest and redirect some of the negative energy that is sucking our school community into a black hole even further. Just a thought for you to consider Larry."



You haven't learned ANYTHING in 10 years, have you?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI7hwnRBsG4



"If anybody writes back and says, what's this meeting about?"



Does someone have to spell this out for you, letter by AGONIZING letter???



Dr. Ed said...

Rich Morse, where were you when far worse was being done to Catherine Sanderson?

Do you not remember how Maria Geryk came to be the Superintendent and how nasty/vicious that all was? It was all quite public and well documented, remember?

Furthermore, neither is this asinine MegaSkool (sic.) the first expensive blunder Maria Geryk has attempted to ram through, nor Aisha Hiza the first parent whose Civil Rights Team Maria violated with impunity. Team Maria has been engaging in a scorched earth policy for more than a decade now, where were you then?

What has now happened is that we have reached the so-called "tipping point" where the actions of Maria & Minions have become intolerable, particularly in light of all the other things we know they have done. And standing up to nasty people is inherently nasty.

Rich, you seek to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow Marquess of Queensbury Rules. It doesn't work that way, please don't expect civility from people who have been treated quite uncivilly for some time now.

And remember too that Ms. Geryk was not "[brought] in here to professionally run things", instead, she was presented as the insider with years of experience in Amherst, someone whose background was more in Psych than Pedagogy and who understood the tumultuous characteristics of what is an incredibly complex combination of districts.

This is a woman who not only lacked a Doctorate, but who had never set foot into a classroom as the teacher*, nor into a school as the principal*. From memory, she has a Westfield State BA in SPED and a somewhat similar MEd from UM -- she went from SPED teacher to SPED Admin to Asst Supt to Acting Supt -- her sole qualification was that she had been working in the Superintendent's Office**.

Rich, she (and her supporters) made it personal.

* i.e. "Classroom Teacher" and "Building Principal." These are jobs requiring a specific DESE licenses essentially similar to an electrician or barber license.

** She apparently has a DESE "Superintendent" Certificate, although I never could figure out how she managed to obtain it.

Dr. Ed said...

An analogy that escapes some is that the School Board is the SI's boss, and the parents and residents are the customers or clients.

No.

The voters are the Supt's boss, and the School Committees (like the Selectmen) are their designated agents, expected to both listen to and reflect the desires of the voters.

At the risk of going on a tangent here, FDR and several significant AFL-CIO folks vehemently opposed public sector unionization as being inherently inconsistent with a free & democratic society. A few decades earlier, Then-MA Governor Calvin Coolidge responded to the Boston Police Strike by declaring that there was no right to strike against the public, summarily fired all of them, and called in the Vermont National Guard to restore order. (I'm not quite sure why the VT Guard, but the firings were upheld.)

Those of you in a public sector union, read your contract -- there will be a "no strike" clause somewhere in there. It's required to be there, because you are public sector, striking is illegal. Because the public is your boss...

"No other boss in this town, whether public or private, tolerates and allows the level of disrespect, and frankly abuse, toward their employee that the SI's boss tolerates and allows toward her."

First, there is an inherent RIGHT to "disrespect" public officials, which is what Geryk is. There is a very long tradition of this, political cartoonists spent their entire career doing this. How about all the stuff that happens at UMass?

Furthermore were a private sector employee speak to his "boss" the way that Jackson did to Sanderson at that SC meeting, he'd have been summarily fired. Public sector is different.

The SI isn't a politician, she's an employee, just like everyone else who is an employee of this town"

No, she isn't -- by definition. She is a "non-unit professional", just like the town manager (and actually paid more). She has the authority to hire & fire, to ban dogs & peanuts, to decide who will be teaching what and where. Comparing her to a guy driving a plow truck is asinine.

I firmly believe that school superintendents should be elected, Ed Reform (the law cited in her contract) has given them the level of power and unquestioned autonomy that a mayor enjoys, and any mayor who wasn't elected would be defined as a "dictator."

"so she should be treated with at least the same level of respect as any other,"

So she should be free to fight freestyle, while those she's harmed should be required to follow Marquess of Queensbury Rules?!?

"and be protected from unwarranted scrutiny and harassment"

That little "right to petition for redress of grievances" notwithstanding.
Apparently we should turn the clock back to the year 1215 where citizens who did such things were thrown into a pot of boiling water -- literally.

"There are civil and effective means of consistently and effectively evaluating and managing the SI's performance"

Bullshite.

"just like there are for other department heads,
Anyone remember the meeting discussing the solar panels on the old dump?
Maria Geryk has NEVER been subjected to that!

at the School Boards disposal.

But not at the public's, and that is the problem.

People aren't at the level of "pitchforks & torches" -- yet...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich. You are the voice of reason.

Does anyone else entirely skip Dr. Ed's comments? I haven't read them for several months and my experience of this blog and life in general is much more positive.

Larry Kelley said...

The answer to bad speech is more good speech, not censorship.

Anonymous said...

I also skip all his posts. Otherwise I could not keep coming here.

Anonymous said...

Larry could easily block Ed and is responsible for them. I ask both Larry and Ed to stop posting Ed's comments. Imagine Ms Geryk's children reading such hate and vitriol. It is very scary and I'm an adult. I'm sure that Ed and Larry will find some convoluted 'justification'. There is none. Either of you can stop it. Be accountable for your damaging words and just STOP.

Nina Koch said...

Remember that you can use the Click-n-Poof feature of blogspot. Just click on Ed's name and the comment disappears. Makes the page a lot shorter.

Larry's primary interest would appear to be his blog's sitemeter.

Larry Kelley said...

No, his primary interest has always been the First Amendment.

I thought you would be used to that by now.

Rick Hood said...

First Amendment is not a great answer, since it is not violated when a paper chooses not to publish a letter. Ditto for blog comments. But yeah, it is your blog, and we don't have to come here, we know, we know....
"Click-n-Poof" sounds like a plan.
"Thanks Rich. You are the voice of reason." +1 to that.

Anonymous said...

You are not going to find a more professional, kind, caring, knowledgable Superintendent than Maria Geryk. This town is lucky to have her. She could have left a long time ago, gotten paid the same amount of money, but not have had to deal with the elitists in this town. Instead, she stayed because she cares. She cares about the families and the children of this town. Any professional who has dealt with her knows it. There isn't a racist bone in her body. People who criticize her do so out of jealousy. They think they can do better. They judge her from the comfort of their anonymous living rooms. They are mean, disrespectful, and small. I know that whenever Maria leaves this town, she will continue to be smart, kind and successful. The rest of you will still be selfish, condescending, ageist, holier-then-thou, sexist bullies. I hope that none of you will ever have to endure the pain that you have inflicted upon her. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Bull shit!

Anonymous said...

Larry is in no way endorsing ed...he would have to know what ed is talking about!

Dr. Ed said...

Ummm, what exactly is it that I wrote?

I think she is unprofessional, incompetent, arrogant, lacking necessary (but apparently not required) credentials, and hence someone who ought not hold the public position of trust which she currently enjoys.

This is causing her pain? As opposed to the crap that is being written about me?
And if we are so concerned about children, how about the Sanderson children???

While I am subjected to a fuselage of personal abuse, I'm neither attacking her personally -- yet -- nor her Minions (including those at UMass)-- yet. (And as to the Minions, stealing my cell phone at a SC meeting was low...)

I have neither written nor repeated some of the nasty stuff that I've been told about Maria. My issue with her is job performance, and hers sucks.

Dr. Ed said...

And 6:38, I hope you never have to endure the pain that was inflicted on me, not that I suspect you'd care...

Anonymous said...

Dr., this is 6:38. My post was about Maria. I have no idea who you are or why your pain is relevant. I'm sorry if others have treated you poorly. But if you want to be treated as a professional, then please act like one.

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Thank you for bringing that up I had an interesting conversation with Miss Sanderson recently about what happened to her how she was basically bullied tortured and treated so poorly her reputation completely ruined by the manipulative ways of this Administration not only her but now Trevor and formally Shibazz as well all pushed off of school commitee or treated horribly having the facts twisted and completely bullied so if Maria can do this to people who are on school commitee why is it so unbelievable that she is doing this to parents across the district and doing what she's doing to Aisha Karma's coming for you Maria

Anonymous said...

She already took her kids out of our school. There is fath in the system by leadership DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

I don't know ask all the families that commented bAnned in pelham that took their kids out because admin didn't care enough to address their concerns

Anonymous said...

Good she can give it all to Aisha when she is sued and loses. Then Aisha can donate it back to the Pelham school to institute a real bullying program

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Again they are not close and are not in kahootz.. Why does everyone assume because their children attend the same school and they are both black would that mean they are friends. I constantly read that v period assume they are close they aren't. The children are facing similar situations as many of our children are in Pelham School and other schools like FR.

Anonymous said...

Maria's gotta go....

Anonymous said...

Lol. You don't have a clue about what you are talking about. This is the kind of libelous nonsense Larry should not be publishing. Any eye witness to the years Sanderson was on the SC will know this is nonsense. Shabazz and Trevor also were never bullied by anyone. Larry is being totally irresponsible to be posting this stuff. Why monitor posts if you are going to post this kind of unsubstantiated nonsense.

Anonymous said...

When people are talking about these school policy failures, the minions are coming out to suppress the First Amendment right.

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible, post Tuesday meeting if it does involve the SI, to post a synopsis? There seems to be a lot of moving parts and I'm getting lost! Laying out both sides? I'm lost in the forest of opinions and comments, but still avoiding (skipping) the troll infested bridges.

90+ comments on this article? Has to be close to a record! Even filtering out certain peoples posts....

Larry Kelley said...

Not possible to post synopsis because it's taking place under the cloaking device of an Executive Session.

Record for Comments is 225 (also a school related post).

Dr. Ed said...

"Don't look behind the curtain, ignore that man behind the curtain..."

Anonymous said...

District's adoption of restorative justice has back fired? Restorative justice may look "good" on paper of district report, but it actually makes it hard, if not impossible, for teachers to control kids behavior, and make the school less safe, and deteriorating learning environment for all kids. Some big city schools in New York and Chicago has adopt such policy with problematic results.

From New York, quote: "New York public schools may get their suspension numbers “right” under the new racially correct discipline standards. But their enrollment numbers will likely suffer in the process, as more students — and teachers — transfer to safer private or charter schools. In a misguided effort to be “fair” to a few, politicians are hurting the education of the many."

Here is the original article,

http://nypost.com/2015/03/14/politicians-are-making-schools-less-safe-and-ruining-education-for-everyone/

Anonymous said...

restorative justice: a concept/program developed to manage the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. Perfectly applicable to primary and secondary education, right? Is there any data showing this approach works for kids?

It hasn't even been shown to be effective in helping adults in Rwanda reconcile and move towards peace...

Anonymous said...

Anon: 1:07,

Can you enlighten us. What is restorative justice? When did it start in ARPS

Anonymous said...

Here is a news of restorative justice, that Geryk and team talked about in their state of school presentation:

http://www.lwvamherst.org/content/superintendent-geryk-speak-state-schools

If you have kids in Amherst schools, you know it from your kids.

Anonymous said...

So people with kids in the schools: Do your kids think restorative justice works or do they roll their eyes like mine did at the mention of social justice. Got any examples (without names of course) where it either did work or did not?

Anonymous said...

Anon @1121 .. watch the video of Whitney when she talks about this situation hurting her family and emails and phones calls She isn't talking about random people doing those things .. She is talking about Maria's lawyer and the admin team .. Remember that bullying is also perception.. as well as actually pushing people around. If they (the Baptistes) are feeling bullied it is their reality.. I hate to say it like this but it looks awful that there are so few minorities in the town and two families from the same small community are being bullied by the same person. This situation with Trevor may be the cement shoes.

Anonymous said...

They started this in one school with one situation but the official cancelled three meetings in a row with the parent. but I may be wrong that this was a resistive justice program but it was related to bullying

Anonymous said...

What is the consequence of a generation of (future) adults whose eyes roll at the mention of social justice?

The version I heard is that Americans didn't believe the reports of Nazi atrocities in the 1930's because 20 years earlier (i.e. during WW-I), the Trans-Atlantic Cable (which came ashore in Ireland, then part of Great Britain) had been used to promulgate wartime propaganda. Vile stuff like the Germans "pitchforking" British babies -- things as vile as what the Nazi's were actually doing in the late 1930's.

What terrifies me about all of these false allegations of racism, sexism, homophobia and whatnot is that sooner or later it really will be that and no one will care....

Dr. Ed said...

" I hate to say it like this but it looks awful that there are so few minorities in the town and two families from the same small community are being bullied by the same person.

I KNOW how the state & federal folks would view it....

This situation with Trevor may be the cement shoes.

I much prefer the expression "tipping point" or even "critical mass."

If she's fired tomorrow -- which she should be -- she'll be portrayed as a victim, which she isn't. Hence, my reluctance to view this as anything other than "the final straw", the one thing too many.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:59,

You bring up a very important point. Amherst is looked at from the outside as super excepting and super liberal. When news of racism keeps coming out of Amherst and the stories and complaints are weak it really does not help the cause of correcting racism. It does not mean there are not racists acts or that Amherst is perfect by any means. When Amherst leaders start throwing out terms like social justice, institutionalized racism and the like coupled with incident after incident the outside world just gets numb to the cause. There is a good reason all groups fighting for a cause look to crusade around strong solid cases. If anything less than that plays in the media over and over again, it just becomes another cry wolf scenario, which it may or may not be. It is made even worse (perception) when alleged victims sue with weak evidence and get a large payday to make it go away. What is that teaching our society and our children. Causes can live or die on perception. The perception that some of the people in the Amherst area create is not healthy. That being said I would like to hear the Moms side of the story, all of it. If the complaint and issue are real, then history has dictated the victims (for right or wrong) will have to stand strong (not easy), and tell the rest of us the facts behind the bullying of her and her child and the lack of respect and action from the Administration. Anything less and this will just become another footnote in the racial morass that has become Amherst.

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

I don't believe she is going to be fired. There are so many things they could, be discussing related to this ir other things. Maybe they are discussing the impending lawsuit,damage control. Ms Hiza hasnt been invited and she wasn't allowed to be present at the Pelham Exec session. Could it be Pelham Exec session discovered some Regional issues ? Maybe Trevor's letter to Long was supported by whole SC and they are discussing thecletter the Reg Sch chair recieved as well as. Maybe it has nothing to do with any of this. THERE ARE SO MANY POSSIBILITIES

Anonymous said...

I think we have heard enough of the mom's side. What I want to hear is the other side. Which of course cannot be told because the mom doesn't want it to be told. That speaks volumes for me.

Anonymous said...

"Amherst is looked at from the outside as super excepting and super liberal."

I think you meant "...super accepting and super Liberal."

Most folk in the purgatorial cesspool known as Amherst are far to ideologically Leftist to ever be considered "liberals", even though they identify as Liberals.

That said, I'd like to see Ms. Hiza file a complaint with the US Dept of Justice. You know, the folk who went into Ferguson -- I have been told that the'd shut down Maria's empire with just one complaint from one Black person on the basis of dilution of Black votes and the Voting Rights Act.

Feds aren't going to care about town lines because education is provided on a county or regional basis in much of the country. They are going to look at the mostly White Pelham electing the same number of board members as Amherst and freak, they'll then look at the Black children of the district being sent to larger (and hence inferior) schools and declare that to be racist.

The DoJ would order the Pelham school closed, and an end to the current Board, as well as at-large seats. Instead,there would be districts (some crossing town lines) with some required to be "Minority-Majority" -- Gerrymandered so as to ensure the outcome.

Dr. Ed said...

"I think we have heard enough of the mom's side. What I want to hear is the other side. Which of course cannot be told because the mom doesn't want it to be told.

It's called "trying the victim" and was a very effective way to prevent a rapist from being convicted of the crime he very much was guilty of. Instead of discussing what he had done, the trial became a sordid discussion of her. The three abortions she'd had in college or whatever, stuff that had nothing to do with the question of what he allegedly did to her.

It's why we now have rape shield laws.

And maybe we need parental shield laws as well.

Perhaps we need to say that every sordid detail that can be fabricated about a parent isn't relevant in a complaint that a public official abused her authority. This isn't about Aisha Hiza -- it's about Maria Geryk and WHAT MARIA did and/or didn't do!!!

The fact that people overlook this tells me a great deal...





That speaks volumes for me.

Dr. Ed said...

One question: Why isn't Maria Geryk held to the same standard as Aisha Hiza?

Why isn't Geryk required to waive every scintilla of her personal privacy?

Anonymous said...

The issue is that we don't know what Ms. Geryk did to address the situation. She cannot discuss it publically until the mother signs a waiver allowing her to do so. The fact that the mother only wants us to know her version of events and not the entire truth of the matter should speak volumes to everyone.

Dr. Ed said...

Or perhaps, like a rape victim, the mother doesn't want every sordid-but-irrelevant fact & fabrication about her to be publicly promulgated.

As I understand it, this includes things they are refusing to tell the mother about -- which is jaw-droppingly Orwellian. (It's why I think she should have long ago filed a MCAD complaint as they would have had to both tell MCAD *and* convince MCAD.)

And this isn't the first time something like this has happened!!!

But let's blame the victim...

Dr. Ed said...

Why doesn't Maria Geryk sign a waiver as well?!?!?

Why doesn't Maria Geryk ask the "Executive Sessions" to instead be public -- why doesn't she agree to let all discussions of her job performance be in public???

She could do this -- I wouldn't recommend it, but she could do it -- and I suggest people consider Ms. Hiza's and Ms. Geryk's desire for personal privacy in the same light.

Heck, why don't we put a scale on the floor that loudly announces what every woman weighs when she walks into the room? How far are you people willing to go?

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is blaming the victim. I think what people are saying is that we don't have enough information.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Hiza can't have it both ways. Well she could. Because it doesn't really matter what we all think. It doesn't matter if we don't have all the information. What matters is that we all acknowledge that we don't have all the information and that we are all basically talking out our hats in this matter. When you come right down to it all these blog posts are a huge waste of time.

Larry Kelley said...

How long did it take you to write that comment?

Anonymous said...

Here we go with the sjw bullshit.

Anonymous said...

She's given her all? All of her cockamamie leftist ideas. Right. Which I despise. If she likes it, I hate it. If she hates it, I like it.

Anonymous said...

This is utter hogwash this idea that in order to be "equal" everyone must have their individual "needs" met. Craziness.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the internet.

Anonymous said...

And that is 7:31's comment on the constitution of the United States. Telling.

Anonymous said...

Amherst goes for Bernie. All-out Marxist. I'd say that's beyond liberal.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed ed works rape into a lot of his comments..

Anonymous said...

A two hour Executive session last night, an hour longer than intended and posted on the agenda. Not only were people wishing to speak at public comment waiting and waiting, but others are wondering what's going on.

btw, nice cameo appearance by former ARMS principal Mike Hayes at last night's SC meeting.

Dr. Ed said...

"I've noticed ed works rape into a lot of his comments.."

When the legislature, in its infinite wisdom, passes an auto theft victim's shield law, I'll "work auto theft into a lot of [my] comments."

Likewise when UMass is shut down for a series of auto thefts that never happened, and I have to deal with the issue of publishing the names of the hoaxers or not.

And Larry, because I have personal integrity, I'm not writing the third line that would spin this totally around and sending it back in kind.

Dr. Ed said...

9:58 -- Amherst's "Liberals" are way to fascist to be "liberal."

(NB: A capitol letter indicates a proper noun.)

Anonymous said...

We ain't have it all and it's funny how the SC didnt have it all either. Where did the info go ? If is submitted to G Tate where did it go ?

Anonymous said...

Sandersons sotuation is closer to Aishas angry frustrated mom who felt something want right with a situation complained and recieved no support from adminatration. Like every other c parent that gets angry. Then after being let down by the system she serves and bullied by admin she gives up moves away and has zero issues,her new town like so many other parents. .

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of how things,can be twisted. Keep in mind how long would you let a situation go on with your young child before you got angry.
Meeting with parent who is still frustrated and,questioning the comptence of staff who is handling the issue. OR
Meeting with parent who is irrationally angry. Her demeAnor is combative. She is accusatory and disrepectful boarding irrational. A sentence worded stronger with more,negative words will sound worse the words that people choose to describe situations are subjective to what they perceive. The only way we would serially know the truth the whole truth is if the conversations were recorded or if we were present.

Anonymous said...

After Sanderson moved out of Amherst, she still school choiced two of her kids into the Amherst schools.... so she & her family couldn't have been totally unhappy with the schools here. I believe one of her kids still goes to Amherst.

Dr. Ed said...

As problematic as Frieve is, this is how wou habdle something like this.
http://bangordailynews.com/2016/05/10/news/mid-maine/sheriff-investigating-assault-allegation-against-st-albans-schoolteacher/?ref=comments

Anonymous said...

NB: A capitol is a building, Ed.

(NB: In this case, "NB" stands for "Nota Bonehead".)

Anonymous said...

Ed ed ed ed ed...tsk tsk tsk

Dr. Ed said...

I've seen it both ways -- in grammar textbooks & style guides....

Anonymous said...

"I've noticed ed works rape into a lot of his comments."


And you appreciate it.



-Not Ed

Dr. Ed said...

I've seen it both ways -- in grammar & style textbooks...

Dr. Ed said...

Abob 1:23 -- ROTF,L....

:)

Anonymous said...

More marxist bullshit from America haters.