Tisbury School building committee member Rachel Orr has resigned just days before a vote on the school renovation and addition project. Committee chair Harold Chapdelaine gave the news to the committee at a meeting Tuesday night. Orr’s resignation comes after Chapdelaine provided The Times with a written rebuttal to a critical memo Orr submitted to the committee. Orr resigned through a condemnatory letter which characterized Chapdelaine’s rebuttal as a personal attack. In the resignation letter, Orr, a former chair of the committee, described herself as a “literal reader” whose analysis was misconstrued.
“You have chosen to publicly attack my character and integrity because I am a literal reader and because I think differently than others,” Orr wrote. “Your personal attack has consequences not only for me, but for my family, my friends, my colleagues, and my employers.”
Chapdelaine noted to the committee that his rebuttal followed an inquiry from The Times.
“The letter that I submitted to The Times and to all of you was not a letter to the editor. It was not an op-ed piece. It was in response to a request for comment by The MV Times. I chose to do a written response rather than a verbal response so that I could gather my thoughts, information, and try to give as comprehensive and as respectful [a] review of that information as possible. Given that the communications involved me directly, and the subsequent letter of resignation that was submitted by Ms. Orr, I’ll ask the members for guidance or comment, in what direction, whether it be comment or action, the committee wants to go.”
“I think it puts you as chair being asked to comment in a rather difficult position,” committee member Michael Watts said. “And I appreciate that you didn’t speak for any of us, and I guess this is the forum to do so … I think you did your best to answer questions as posed by the newspaper — to things that have already been reviewed. I think that’s a difficult position to be in. I appreciate that you took one, and we’re moving on.”
Committee vice chair Reade Milne said she felt responsible because she previously asked Orr to make a list, which later morphed into a critique letter: “I recognize how uncomfortable she was, and I certainly had no intention of putting Rachel in a position that made her feel uncomfortable.”
Milne emphasized Chapdelaine’s arguments and Orr’s arguments were not new ones: “These are items and challenges that come with a renovation-addition to a building that was built in 1929.”
Committee member Sean Debettencourt thanked Orr for the countless hours she gave to the project, and hoped the select board would too.
“Rachel asked many of the hard questions,” Chapdelaine said. “And the design is better for it.”