WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Despite a maelstrom of social media chatter and an online petition that generated nearly 250 signatures, the Mount Greylock Regional School district has to date received just one formal complaint against its superintendent in the nearly three years she has occupied the corner office.
Superintendent Kimberley Grady has directed the district continuously since she was appointed acting superintendent in the fall of 2016.
The district has received one formal complaint against her, in March of this year.
In Grady's capacities as acting superintendent and later superintendent, she has answered directly to the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee and its antecedent committees at Lanesborough Elementary, Williamstown Elementary and Mount Greylock middle-high school prior to the district's full regionalization in 2018.
This spring, a Facebook post from a now former employee at Lanesborough Elementary was circulated widely on social media. In it, Grady is accused of being "smart, diabolical, and down right underhanded [sic]."
The nearly 500-word Facebook post does not include any specific allegations of incidents at any of the three schools, but it does include a call for Grady's supervisory body, the School Committee, to take action.
"Our School committee [sic] needs to get their heads out of the sand and wake up before our school district is run into the ground," the post read.
The Facebook post was followed up by an online petition that lists 15 positions in the three-school district that had been vacated since July 2016 — a period that includes four months of Grady's predecessor, then-Superintendent Douglas Dias.
"It cannot be that the School Committee views such turnover as routine, let alone indicative of effective and appropriate top-level leadership," the petition reads.
A printed copy of the online petition was later hand-delivered to the School Committee during a meeting.
In the weeks following the Facebook post and petition, iBerkshires.com repeatedly asked for details of any allegations against the superintendent that have been considered by the committee, but those requests were declined on the advice of the district's counsel because of confidentiality issues.
On May 15, iBerkshires.com submitted a request under the commonwealth's public records act that sought the answer to a narrowly drawn question: "the number(s) of actionable, formal, written accusations of misconduct, mismanagement or abuse of district personnel that have been brought to the attention of her supervising body, the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee (and its predecessors: the Williamstown Elementary School Committee, Lanesborough Elementary School Committee and Mount Greylock 'Transition Committee')."
The request specified the time periods covered to include Grady's time as acting/interim superintendent, the time in which the Transition Committee was conducting a search for a full-time superintendent and since last April, when she was offered the job as full-time superintendent.
On Wednesday, Mount Greylock's records access officer, Jonathan Nopper, sent a written reply.
"In response to this request, the District would like to inform you that there has been one (1) formal complaint made against Ms. Grady, which occurred while employed as Superintendent of the District. Said complaint was emailed to the School Committee on Friday, March 21, 2019," Nopper wrote.
The letter does not note the complainant or the nature of the request. That information was not requested by iBerkshires.com because it likely would have triggered confidentiality and privacy concerns both for the accuser and accused.
The date of the one formal complaint the district has received was 19 days after the March 2 Facebook post that touched off the current controversy.
The controversy has been brought into School Committee meetings on a couple of occasions. The original Facebook poster has taken to attending meetings with a bright red anti-bullying T-shirt (the March 2 post refers to Grady as a "bully"). And a newspaper article about the petition prompted a comment from the floor during one of the committee's monthly meetings.
On March 27, The Berkshire Eagle ran a story about the issue that included an indirect quote from the chair of the School Committee, Joe Bergeron, that made it sound like the committee was not able effectively to supervise the superintendent.
"[T]here is not a set procedure for dealing with complaints about a superintendent other than during the annual employee performance evaluation process," the story reads in an indirect quote paraphrasing comments attributed to Bergeron.
"Any complaint is reviewed by school committee members individually and by the district's legal counsel," Bergeron said on Friday. "The district's legal counsel reviews and advises with knowledge of federal and state laws and the Superintendent's contract. If advised, the school committee then discusses specific charges or complaints following the Massachusetts General Laws regarding employment and the Open Meeting Law.
"The Berkshire Eagle's 'paraphrased comment' was not regarding the school committee's procedures for handling of specific complaints or charges."
Two weeks after that article ran in The Eagle, the School Committee was addressed by a leader of Mount Greylock's teachers union during the public comment portion of one of the committee's meetings.
"The Mount Greylock Educators Association feels strongly that the School Committee has an ongoing responsibility to evaluate district administration and operations and should have a procedure at the ready to adequately deal with these types of situations," Marty Walter said.
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