To the Editor:
I am pleased to see the All-Island School Committee (AISC) is preparing to tackle the daunting and time-consuming task of evaluating the superintendent of schools, Dr. D’Andrea. It is my hope, as the committee decides which rubrics they will use to evaluate him, that time is taken to look independently at each of our Island’s respective schools. I implore you to look at the schools through the eyes of the state’s report card, otherwise known as the Official Accountability Report. Take the time to ask around and get feedback from your constituents. How do the towns’ leaderships feel? Is there community involvement? Has there been buy-in from parents on major changes to a school’s schedule? Do parents feel welcome? Does Dr. D’Andrea allow for space and a place to go for parents to speak their truth and be heard? How about the morale of students, teachers, and staff at each school? Has he evaluated his own work? How does he collect data to prove his evaluation of self? I would also ask for his job description, the assistant superintendent’s, and those of all the principals, as they will give you important insight with which to evaluate.
Personally, I am extremely concerned with the MVRHS Official Accountability Report, specifically over the past three years. Recognizing that school committees cannot involve themselves in the day-to-day issues of a school, and further acknowledging that their role is only responsible for the budget and policy, there are limited ways one can express their praise and concerns regarding a school’s performance. I believe evaluating the superintendent is the one way the AISC and all independent school committees on M.V. can address the performance issues of their respective schools.
Did you know that 39 students in three years have dropped out of high school? Let that sink in, 39 students. One student dropping out is a failure, 39 students dropping out in three years is a tragedy. I personally consider it an educational catastrophe! I consider this a massive failure of the leadership team at the high school and the superintendent.
Did you know that our high schools’ overall classification by the state is “requiring assistance or intervention”?
Did you know that there seems to be little buy-in from parents and the community to the radical changes in the daily structure of the high school? It is my understanding even the MVRHS School Committee was not officially informed until after its implementation. I feel certain it did not go through the calendar committee. The lack of community input and lack of involvement with the school committee shows a complete lack of trust and respect for our community at large, as they are our elected officials.
Did you know there has been a tradition of asking for community involvement when hiring for certain positions at the high school? This practice appears to be slowly fading away. This may seem insignificant to some, but to me, I am reminded we are a public school which requires buy-in from our communities.
I feel confident that the MVRHS principal will explain away all that I have written with what I call smoke and mirrors. She will tell you of the new Initiatives that are happening. I ask you to look at the data through her lens, then I ask you to look at the data through your educated lenses. Go back before Dingledy’s tenure and Dr. D’Andrea’s unrelenting support of her, and see what was happening. One would think after five years, our school would be improving. I will never forget the day the entire school committee, including myself, resoundingly clapped at the lower absenteeism rates and tardiness rates, believing for a moment that her policies and initiatives were working. Little did we know that year, 2018–19, sixteen (16) students dropped out of high school. It does not take a scientist to deduce that absenteeism and tardiness improved when those kiddos left the school.
The issues I have outlined are just some of a few I have on my mind these days. They are a direct result of our superintendent’s “strong support” of Sara Dingledy.
I am asking the AISC to please take the time on deciding on which rubrics to evaluate Dr. D’Andrea. Please, keep in mind the entirety of the educational community, especially MVRHS. It is the job of the high school to educate ALL students who come through its door. We are a public, comprehensive high school. It is my hope that real change can occur at the MVRHS, but only when a real and true evaluation of Superintendent Dr. D’Andrea transpires.
Packer was a member of the Tisbury School committee and MVRHS School Committee from 2011 to 2020. –Ed.