Superintendent, staff at odds at Hampshire Regional

  • Hampshire Regional School District Superintendent Aaron Osborne.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2019 10:08:27 AM

WESTHAMPTON — Hampshire Regional School District Superintendent Aaron Osborne appears to be facing a crisis of confidence at Hampshire Regional High School, even as other school leaders in the district are backing his leadership. 

In a vote that started last week and concluded Monday, Osborne received 96 votes of no confidence in his leadership from faculty and staff at the regional school in Westhampton that serves students in grades seven through 12. There were five abstentions out of 101 votes cast.

A statement drafted by Hampshire Regional Education Association President William Broaddus on behalf of Hampshire Regional High School’s faculty and staff said the votes represent the “opinion of approximately 91 percent of the non-district staff in the regional building.”

The education association is the union that represents faculty and staff at the high school, although Broaddus said non-union members participated in the vote as well.

“The voice of the staff is expressed in those numbers,” he said.

According to the statement, the vote was taken “in response to persistent concerns among educators with Osborne’s negative effect on the learning environment at Hampshire Regional High School.” The statement cited concerns about how Osborne promulgates policy, his decision-making and a “lack of regard for the consequences of ill-considered public remarks as the day-to-day leader of the district.” 

The statement also says a vote was taken affirming strong support for Hampshire Regional High School Principal Kristen Smidy. Broaddus said 95 votes expressed confidence in Smidy’s leadership, two did not and two votes were abstentions.

“Smidy has valued the perspective of faculty and staff and created a work environment where everyone’s main concern is meeting the needs of our students,” the statement concludes.

Both Smidy and Osborne declined to comment on the matter. Osborne denied some of the allegations detailed in the staff’s statement regarding the no-confidence vote when questioned about them after the Hampshire Regional School Committee meeting Thursday night. 

The poll results involving the superintendent, as well as the superintendent’s professional competence, were to be discussed by the committee at its meeting. However, upon the advice of attorney Fred Dupere, who represents the school district, the committee chose not to convene and discuss the vote of no confidence, and instead scheduled an executive session for next Thursday to discuss the superintendent’s contract. Dupere said the meeting would not be for the purpose of discipline.

Others in the school district offered support for Osborne. 

The Chesterfield-Goshen Regional School Committee gave a vote of confidence in Osborne on Wednesday, with one member abstaining and three members voting for it. One member was not present at the meeting.

Jesse McMillan, principal of New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Chesterfield, released a statement supporting Osborne, with whom he works on a daily basis, he noted.

“In my time spent with Superintendent Osborne, it is evident that he is a leader with a clear vision of what education should be,” McMillan said in the statement.

McMillan praised Osborne for assisting him in his work to get funding for the New Hingham school roof project and said the two have advocated together on Beacon Hill for rural schools.

“In every way that I interact with Superintendent Osborne, it is clear that he is passionate in his thought, belief, and action as these relate to facilitating transformative work in school communities,” McMillan wrote in the statement to Hampshire Regional School Committee members. 

McMillan also pointed to a proficient evaluation Osborne received from the school committees a few months ago.

“It is my hope that the committees stand behind his evaluation during this difficult time when false information is being spread and interactions are being taken out of context,” reads part of his statement.

“If Superintendent Osborne were to leave our district or not have his contract renewed based on the current state of unrest among one school administrator and a group of educators who do not communicate or interact with him on a daily basis, it would negatively impact our district,” McMillan wrote.

Bera Dunau  can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

 




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