Please note that this is an evolving story and it will be updated and revised as more information is obtained.
Understandably this is concerning on many levels. It’s hard not to compare this to last year at this time when considerable effort was being made first to have a Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) principal, to replace retiring principal George Thomson, and secondly having the position made permanent for one year versus temporary as originally specified by the Two Rivers Supervisory Union (TRSU).
On Tuesday, April 9, a petition was posted to “Move On,” which states This is a petition from the community of Cavendish with a no faith in leadership of our CTES principal Debra Beaupre. Our goal is to hold up her contract renewal on April 15, 2019 and to open an investigation into the communities concerns.
Our CTES mission statement is not being honored by current leadership in the school. Because of this our school and community is facing problems on a daily basis. We have a letter of factual statements that is constantly being updated by the volume of people who have come forward to share their story of their negative interactions with the current principal. We will be attending the board meeting on April 25th. We are going to request to be on the agenda for that night. Please come and support us as we also have been reached out by the Chester Telegraph who will also be there.
The author of the petition is listed as Michelle Messina, a parent of a CTES child.
While the petition was temporarily halted for review by the website, in the first hour it received 13 signatures. When the site became available again, late morning of April 10, within a matter of hours, it had a total of 51 signatures.
Though the “letter of factual statements” has not been made public, some of the comments left by signers of the petition indicate, along with the sheer number of people signing, that this is more than just a few angry parents.
"This is definitely someone whose background needs to be looked at closely. These are not the actions of a Principal whose main responsibility is the health and safety of our children and certainly does not reflect the values of this community."
"She does things that shows no leadership. Also stopping bus with her car pulled in front of it on main road on a knoll screaming and hollering at children on bus. Could have gotten people hurt or killed. Said she would do again if need be. This came from bus driver telling me ."
According to Doug McBride, an e-mail outlining the above bus incident was e-mailed to the TRSU and Green Mountain Unified School District (GMUSD) board members by a parent who had a child on that bus. McBride, who is one of Cavendish’s three reps to the board, was not at the March 21 meeting, the night that the correspondence should have been dealt with. Minutes do not reflect that it was discussed.
Since the formation of the GMUSD, the dismantling of individual school boards, the controlling role of the TRSU, and lack of transparency, it has been unclear to parents and community how to report issues, resolve problems or even have a voice in their children’s education.
The role of the GMUSD board also appears to be uncertain. To that end, in February, Meg Powden, TRSU Superintendent and Marilyn Mahusky, GMUSD board chair held a training session to teach the board “how to be a board.” They were informed by Susan Holson, of the VT School Board, that “best practice” was to defer to the judgment of the administration as experts and to support their decisions.
Since most of the GMUSD board members came from serving on their local school boards, this did not sit well with them and it was reflected in their replacing Mahusky with Joe Fromberger as the new chair at the March 21 meeting.
In March, a Principal Evaluation survey was sent to parents, teachers and staff of the TRSU, not just to CTES, for Beaupre as well as the new principal at Green Mountain Union High School. It wasn’t made clear what the process or time frame was for renewing the principals’ contracts.
In the past, while Powden would make a recommendation for a contract renewal, it would be up to the GMUSD to approve it.
Having been unable to attend the March 21 meeting, McBride corresponded with various members of the GMUSD board on Monday, April 8, to find out what was happening with the contract.
Chair Fromberger sent a request to Powden for more information. Powden indicated via e-mail that a contract was being given to Beaupre, as the board had signed off on this at the March 21 GMUSD meeting.
However, no one McBride contacted from the board remembered signing off on the contract and the minutes from that meeting, available on-line at the TRSU website do not reflect such an action.
When this was brought to Powden’s attention, she said that she’d have to go back and look at the minutes.
There are some red flags here:
a) There is confusion about the roles of the GMUSD board and TRSU;
b) It does not appear that GMUSD board nor TRSU have addressed the concerns of a parent about an incident they felt endangered children; and
c) There is no evidence that the GMUSD board signed off on a contract renewal for Beaupre, yet the superintendent thinks this has occurred.
Regardless of how this plays out, it appears that there are issues that go well beyond Beaupre, and could be contributing factors to the issues at hand.