Mill River teachers, staff call leadership into questionJune 24,2013By SANDI SWITZER
CLARENDON — An increasing sense of frustration with the leadership and climate at Mill River Union High School was evident at a recent school board meeting.
A sizable crowd of faculty, staff, students and parents were in attendance at a board meeting as Mill River Teacher Staff Association Vice President Cheryl Hooker relayed a number of concerns.
Hooker began her presentation to the board by noting Mill River was one of 31 schools identified by the Vermont Department of Education as being eligible for school improvement funds for the 2011-12 school year.
In response, the board hired Peter Mello as a school improvement coach to work closely with the principal, she said.
Mello issued a written report in June of 2012 entitled “Debriefing” that outlined his findings. “In Mr. Mello’s opinion, the over-arching issue was leadership,” Hooker indicated.
He wrote in the report “having six principals in a span of seven years, there was no sense of stability or consistency. Structures were weak and there was confusion about expectations, roles and responsibilities.
One goal the principal had was to create a system of shared responsibility for leadership with the school.”
Committees were formed and a school improvement plan emerged identifying four priorities; revising the school’s mission, clarifying leadership issues, improving communication within the school and addressing
student engagement and related concerns.
Mello offered a number of recommendations as a result of administration, faculty and staff committee work during the 2012 school year.
“Our question is ‘what happened to these recommendations?’” Hooker said. “It has been one year since Mr. Mello delivered his report and one year since the board met in executive session with three high school teachers who presented factual evidence of concern to some staff members. It has been almost a month since we asked the board’s help in addressing the same concerns which continue one year later,” she said.
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