After reading Ruth Epstein's article this morning on last night's citizen meeting in Falls Village, I was struck by how sharp the disagreements are in the Region One community over the report and how the Board of Education should proceed. Unfortunately, the Republican-American puts only a portion of these articles in front of its pay wall. Click here to read the first few paragraphs. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to see the whole article, or you can just go out and buy a copy of the Rep-Am's print edition.
There are lots of people who think the Pingpank Report, which revealed "a climate of "controversy, schisms and division" and an overly-involved central office at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, was unduly negative in tone and content. Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain even told the board that the Pingpank Report was "full on inaccuracies," though she has not publicly elaborated on that statement — at least not to my knowledge.
But the comments of retired HVRHS principal Jack Mahoney during last night's meeting at Falls Village Town Hall were rather pointed. People will take notice because Mahoney is knowledgeable, widely respected and, having been removed from the scene for 15 years, he is not presumed to have an agenda beyond the best interests of the institution. Fair-use excerpt from Ruth's article:
"The board should direct the central office to stay home," said Jack Mahoney, a former principal at the school. "Central office administrators should be minimally involved in the life of the high school. That message was loud and clear in the report."
He also wondered if current Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves can be effective.
The report named her specifically, saying she needed counseling to moderate her behavior.
"That judgment should first be made by her evaluation and passed along to the board," Mahoney said. "We need a systematic evaluation of people, especially the assistant superintendent."
He also said the involvement of teachers in the running of the school is not necessarily bad, but it needs to be channeled appropriately through board scrutiny.
Last night could be a turning point in this controversy. Having interviewed Jack several times, including for an hour on my TV show, I think I know him reasonably well. And I don't think you will find a fairer critic of Region One than Jack. If he thinks there's a problem in the regional administrative office and that a top-to-bottom internal review needs to be conducted, then I am inclined to believe him.