On Friday morning, about 20 students of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) gathered at the edge of Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road to rally in support of their principal, Sara Dingledy. They waved signs and pumped their fists, catching the attention of passing drivers.
This rally was in the wake of social media posts from anonymous sources talking negatively about the school, and more specifically about Dingledy, according to Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Richie Smith. The Times recently received copies of the anonymous posts, as well as an anonymous letter alleging Dingledy treats students unfairly. It makes specific allegations that The Times has not been able to verify.
The students “strategically planned this,” and used the 10 minutes of time between classes to rally, according to MVRHS school intervention coordinator Sheryl Taylor told the Times.
Smith heard about the posts Thursday night. “We’re here today because there are a lot of students that are upset with the posts,” Smith said. “Because it had such an effect on kids, we’ll respond to it as if there were a traumatic event that happened.”
The school sent a message to the students, according to Smith, stating that they will be supported through the process, letting them know that if they “are upset, want to know more, or want to talk with a trusted adult, here are the resources.” Taylor said these include the restorative justice office, guidance office, and teachers, among others.
“We are certainly looking at options in other ways, whether that be surveys, focus groups … so that we are making sure we are able to elicit students’ concerns directly in response to this, but in an ongoing manner,” Taylor said. She and other school staff met with leaders of student groups this week to “get a pulse of how students are feeling.”
When asked how bad the posts were, Smith replied, “They were bad enough to upset the kids … I would say it was upsetting enough for students to organize something like this.”
Smith also said that whether the students were protesting in defense of the principal or the posts, the school’s main concern would be making sure the rallying or protesting students were “physically safe.”
“I think in the end … it’s just, right now, an emotionally tough time on the Island and nationally,” Smith said. “I think we all think and believe … there has to be a time when we treat people humanely and with respect, and I think that’s the message the kids were trying to put out there.”
The Times reached out to Dingledy for comment, and MVRHS Assistant Principal Jeremy Light sent an email stating, “At this time Sara does not have a comment.”
Students were in classes preparing for their midterm exams, and were not immediately available for comment.