Lynnfield addresses METCO concerns

December 13, 2016

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Superintendent Jane Tremblay listens to Tricia Murphy, a parent of a child at Summer Street Elementary School, during a school committee meeting in Lynnfield.

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNNFIELD – Superintendent Jane Tremblay addressed the concerns of parents about the recent incidents that led to the loss of three jobs in the district, including the resignation of Summer Street School Principal Jennifer DiBiase.

“I completely understand and appreciate the frustration the parents of the community have experienced due to the abrupt changes at the Summer Street School,” Tremblay said at Tuesday night’s school committee meeting.

Superintendent, director step up for principal role

In addition to DiBiase, who officially resigned on Friday, two employees with the town’s METCO program were fired following an incident on a school bus.

While DiBiase’s official resignation was Friday, she had not been at the school for at least a week before that.

But Tremblay said that while she was restricted in saying anything about the incident because of federal and state confidentiality restrictions, there was never a leadership void at the school. During the period before DiBiase’s resignation, Tremblay said she and district Director of Teaching and Learning Kevin Cyr were overseeing the operation of the school.

Several parents  who spoke during the public comment period of the meeting noted they understood that there was a limit on what Tremblay could say about the situation on the METCO bus and the personnel issue, but still wished there was a way more could have been communicated before it became an issue in the media.

“I cannot control the news, and the fact that they were outside the Summer Street School did not make myself or anyone else on this committee happy,” Tremblay said. “ I was bound not to communicate, and there was nothing I could do about that. If I could have, I would have; it was as frustrating for me as it was for you.”

Tremblay added that while she was not able to talk about the matter, it had no impact on ensuring that the students at the Summer Street School had a top quality education.

“The security, health, safety, and welfare of the students were never in jeopardy during this period,” said Tremblay, adding she was grateful for the professionalism of the school’s staff over the past several weeks.

School Committee member Jamie Hayman said he’s talked to at least 25 parents who shared their frustrations about the situation with him.

“I do want to say that this has been hard on the community and on the Summer Street School community,” Hayman said. “I would thank everyone I have talked to; all the conversations have been thoughtful and respectful and that is a positive sign in a difficult situation.”

Over the next several weeks, Tremblay said she and Cyr will continue to oversee the Summer Street School with the expectation that after the holiday break, an interim principal will be hired for the remainder of the school year. A search for a full-time replacement should begin in February, she said.