WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee appears to be preparing to hire a new superintendent without having announced the status of its current superintendent.
The committee has posted a single-item agenda for a special meeting for Monday, July 13, with the following business to be conducted: "Search process for the selection of a permanent Superintendent discussion VOTE."
The meeting will come one week to the day after the School Committee hired Robert Putnam to serve as interim superintendent while Kimberley Grady is out on medical leave.
School Committee Chair Christina Conry on Friday evening declined to comment on several questions iBerkshires.com had asked her earlier in the morning. One of the questions: whether there is any way to read the agenda item for Monday that does not mean the district is replacing Grady.
A member of Grady's family on Friday said she was unavailable to talk about the situation in the district.
On Thursday, the School Committee met in open session for nearly 2 1/2 hours and appeared to actively avoid discussing the purpose of — or even existence of — the Monday special meeting.
Near the end of Thursday's virtual meeting, the following exchange took place:
"The next item on our agenda is upcoming meetings, and we have an Education Subcommittee meeting scheduled for July 14," Conry said.
After hashing out the timing of that subcommittee meeting, she continued, "Then the next upcoming meeting I have is the Finance Subcommittee meeting on July 16. … And I do not have any other business."
Committee member Carolyn Greene then interrupted, "Christina, I'm sorry, Robert [Putnam] mentioned [earlier in Thursday's meeting] that we have a meeting on the 23rd?"
"Our next regularly scheduled meeting is actually the second Thursday of August," Conry answered.
Putnam then pointed out that the School Committee's calendar on the district's website does list a meeting on July 23.
"I believe [July 23] was a placeholder for when we were putting out the superintendent's evaluation," Regina DiLego said.
"You're right, because we had postponed it," Conry said, referring to an evaluation that should have been completed in June.
After some more discussion, the committee decided to schedule a meeting on July 30 to further discuss the plan for reopening the district's three schools in September.
Four-and-half minutes into the discussion about next meetings, Al Terranova interjected.
"We did a Doodle [poll], what's the meeting on the 13th?" Terranova asked.
"You were supposed to get an agenda in your email," Conry said.
"Are we meeting on the 13th?" Terranova repeated.
"Yes, sir," Conry replied.
"What time?" Terranova asked.
"10 a.m.," DiLego answered.
That was the extent of the conversation about a special meeting that may confirm what has been rumored in the district for weeks: Grady's tenure in the district has come to an end.
If the agenda item is correct, the Lanesborough-Williamstown school district will be looking for its third full-time superintendent since the departure of Rose Ellis in December 2014.
In the last two months, the School Committee has conducted 4 hours, 22 minutes worth of meetings in executive session with the following agenda item: "to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with non-union personnel (Superintendent)."
Conry last week said Grady was not invited to and did not attend any of those executive sessions, which were held on June 3, 17 and 25 and July 1.
The last time the Mount Greylock district parted ways with its chief executive officer, the School Committee provided no explanation and declined to characterize whether he was let go or quit in the middle of his second academic year in the district.
On the night of Doug Dias' departure from the district, all voters, taxpayers and families got after an extended closed-door meeting between Dias and the elected officials was a vague statement from Dias' attorney to the effect that, "the parties agreed to sever the relationship."
Mount Greylock Regional School District Superintendent Timeline
December 2014: After 14 years as a superintendent in the Lanesborough-Williamstown public schools, Rose Ellis retires.
Jan. 1, 2015: Gordon Noseworthy begins tenure as interim superintendent.
April 8, 2015: The Lanesborough-Williamstown Tri-District, which includes Mount Greylock, Lanesborough Elementary and Williamstown Elementary, names Douglas Dias its next superintendent.
Nov. 7, 2016: The Tri-District parts ways with Douglas Dias without explanation at the start of his second academic year at the helm of the Lanesborough-Williamstown schools.
Mid-November, 2016: The Tri-District office releases documents that hint at some of the reasons behind Dias' departure, including a letter of no-confidence signed by Assistant Superintendent Kimberley Grady and all three of the district's principals.
Nov. 14, 2017: Voters in Lanesborough and Williamstown approve expanded regionalization of the Mount Greylock district to include its two "feeder" elementary schools, LES and WES. In the run-up to the vote, advocates tell voters that having a single district instead of the previous "shared services" agreement will make it easier for the district to attract central office personnel, including the superintendent.
April 5, 2018: Grady offered full-time superintendent position on a 6-0-1 vote.
March 2019: Online petition drafted by an author identified as "Marcia" asks School Committee to address "turnover of union and non-union personnel" in the district and intimates that Grady is the reason. To date, the petition has received 250 signatures. That spring a hard copy of the petition was delivered to the School Committee during a public meeting.
May 2019: District reports that from fall 2016 through May 2019, the district received "one (1) formal complaint made against Ms. Grady," which came in March 2019.
June 2019: Four of the six current School Committee members (one seat was vacant at the time), give Grady marks of "proficient" on the first (and, to date, only) formal evaluation the School Committee completed since hiring her to be interim superintendent in 2016.
Feb. 27, 2020: After social media rumors blame Grady for the recently announced plans by principals at Mount Greylock and WES to step down from their posts, both principals address the School Committee to refute the rumors. WES Principal Joelle Brookner calls them "extremely hurtful to me and wholly untrue."
July 11, 2020: Grady announces her decision to step down from the position in an email to the district's community.
July 13, 2020:The School Committee decides to launch an "expedited" search for a new permanent superintendent.
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Mount Greylock Interim Superintendent Proposing Fully Remote Start to School Year
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional School District's interim superintendent Tuesday told the community he will propose the district start the year with fully remote learning for general education students.
In a virtual town hall, Robert Putnam previewed the proposal for the start of school that he will present to the School Committee for a vote on Thursday evening. Districts throughout the commonwealth must present their reopening plans, approved by school committees, to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by Friday.
Putnam emphasized throughout his presentation that all of his plans for the preK-12, three school district are still subject to negotiation with the district's teachers union. He mentioned "bargaining" at least four times in his half-hour presentation before addressing attendees' questions.
As he has throughout his six-week tenure as interim superintendent, Putnam said remote learning will be the cornerstone of the district's planning for the 2020-21 school year. And when classes resume in mid-September, Putnam expects remote learning to be the only mode of instruction.
Putnam said that, depending in part on the levels of COVID-19 infection in the area, the district will, at some point, offer families the option of keeping their child or children home for remote learning or sending the children to school for part of the week in a hybrid model.
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The college's vice president for finance and administration told the board in a virtual meeting that the impact on the community is something that is discussed every day by the school as it prepares for the beginning of students' arrival on Aug. 24.
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The committee did not disclose a starting date for McCandless, who currently is the superintendent of the Pittsfield Public Schools. Pittsfield has voted to hold McCandless to the 90-day notice in his contract.
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