Tisbury School situation is ‘inexcusable’


To the Editor:

Since April 2018 I have watched in abject horror as the situation at the Tisbury School has unfolded. It has been painful witnessing parents floundering while trying to regain some agency over their children’s education. 

The common thread of conversations with all parents, grandparents and guardians that I have spoken with is stress. Stress related to all of the unknown variables that loom regarding their children’s physical well-being and education. When you hear words like radon, lead, asbestos, and mold as part of the regular discourse involving your child’s educational setting there is a problem. A major problem in order for children to learn they need to feel safe. The chief job of administrators is to ensure a child is physically safe. They failed. Evidence from formal testing has indicated our children were exposed to toxic levels of lead. It is 2019 and this is totally inexcusable. Pointing fingers and deflecting blame is not instilling trust or faith in the parents in our community. Accepting responsibility when we make mistakes and offering amends is one of the lessons I am trying to teach my son. 

Superintendent D’Andrea’s office sits directly across the street from the Tisbury School. To claim total ignorance regarding the atrocious conditions in the school strikes me as disingenuous. Consider a mea culpa so this community can move forward and begin to heal. Our children are the most vulnerable members of our community. When will their physical, educational, social and emotional needs be prioritized? On August 21, 2019 the MV Times published an Op-Ed piece submitted by Superintendent D’Andrea titled, “State of the schools.” Exactly one half of one sentence of the six paragraph letter addressed the Tisbury School. 

I have also heard many parents and members of the community claim the K-4 students being squeezed into the “new” portion of the Tisbury School and transporting our grade 5-8 students to the high school as good life experience and a lesson in adaptability. Perhaps there is an element of truth to this point. However, to try to spin this situation as anything but a colossal failure is simply wrong. Most children are adaptable. Many others including children with anxiety, children on the autism spectrum, and children who have learning differences are less adaptable and they have been subjected to unnecessary stress. 

I worked in public education for 12 years and during that time interacted with many superintendents. Some inspired fear, others admiration and respect. I have always thought of the superintendent as the captain of a ship. The captain’s eyes should always be scanning the horizon seeking squalls and other menacing weather. There was a virtual hurricane sitting within yards of Superintendent D’Andrea’s office. Who was at the helm?

Kate Foley
Vineyard Haven


  1. Cmon, lets not go overboard. Horror is when someone close to you dies, this isnt horror. This is difficult and can be fixed. I bet still no one is working on removing the lead paint, how is that coming? Alot of talk and no action. Id volunteer, wear a mask, Im close to 70 so I dont have to worry about lead poisoning. Where do I sign up?

    • Right. And if you got hurt you’d sue the town. This is not volunteer work. If you have spare time why not sit with someone in hospice care?

      • Id sign a release. The land bank does that for sheds, firewood and stuff. As far as hospice women are far more compassionate then men Ill let them take care of that.

  2. D’andrea has only been here a couple of years. The management of the school never made provision in their earnings statement/balance sheet for capital improvements and maintenance. That is the fault of the School committees and the previous Superintendent. Maybe D’andrea should have raised a red flag when the 44 million was rejected by the voters but any toxicity from lead and radon is the fault of past authorities. It is also not useful to panic over supposed poisoning of children. Lets really find out what is in there and how much real vulnerability exists.

  3. Sure there are many people directly related to this issue. However, D’Andrea gas been here for ‘a couple of years’.. more like 6, if you count his time as Ast. Superintendent. He knew about the schools, was playing the blind eye, and is he is a huge problem for the district going forward. There should be an investigation, to see how much he knew. Or just allow hime to say sorry and resign.

  4. When one has educators responsible for building operations you get into issues that they don’t understand. D’andrea doesn’t understand depreciation and useful life concepts and the need to make provision in budgets for maintenance and depreciation. Tisbury finance people should know but didn’t take care apparently. The budget for the school operation should have reserves for ongoing maintenance and capital improvements which then lead to lead clean up or other environmental or structural issues. Finance should advise an educator. Yes D’andrea is ultimately responsible but unless his subordinates and other officials warn him of financial deficiencies he will get blindsided. He is an educator not a manger or businessman. Now he should show uncanny leadership and go to the state governments and get the help he was offered before the vote and do everything he can to convince the state to help with remediation and or a new building. If he leads, truly leads, he will prevail. No he should not resign. He stays to solve the problem. Don’t leave this to committees who simply syndicate risk. Don’t leave this to Selectmen and consultants. Lead! Go to the Governor and bypass intermediate administration and ask for help.

    • Andrew, I am just saying the D’Andrea is the SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, with his salery of 170,000., a truck, and a cellphone plan paid by the commmunities of MV… he has a bit to answer why he was “blindsided’… and when he resigns at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, we as a community can move forward. BTW, his doctorate is in law, not education…. so I see him more as a trained administrator, rather than an educator who rose through the ranks…

  5. Losing the vote for the new school was bad enough but the inertia on the part of town leaders since April 2018 was like pouring salt in parents’ wounds.
    Why is the school committee scrambling to determine the cost, quantity and location of the modulars? They have had 18 months to plan for this eventuality. There is a total vacuum of capable leaders in Tisbury. The children and their parents ultimately pay the price.

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