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?