The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 12, 2007


CSC meets with facilitator, plans teacher sessions in January

Facilitator John Littleford led a workshop at the end of September for Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle and other school administrators, and facilitated a meeting with Doyle and the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) on October 5. At the October 3 CSC meeting, Chair Nicole Burkel spoke about his work, which is to continue in January, 2008. Littleford was hired by the CSC in response to the Carlisle Teachers Association (CTA) June vote of no confidence in Doyle.

Because the October 5 meeting included the School Committee, the Open Meeting Law applied. After starting the meeting in open session, committee member Michael Fitzgerald passed a motion to go into executive session, with no intent to return to open session.The executive session exemption he gave was: "To consider the discipline or dismissal of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual."

In a follow-up phone conversation, CSC member Dale Ryder said the session "went very well." She feels the consultant is excellent, has a lot of experience, and will "help us all work together."

Beginning on January 5, 2008, Littleford will be performing individual interviews with Doyle, other administrators, the CSC, and two dozen selected teachers. He expects interviews will last about 45 minutes each. "After that he will be pulling everybody that he has interviewed, all 36 people, [together] for a workshop," Burkel added.

Teacher participation in January

Burkel brought up concerns about teacher selection and participation that had been raised earlier by CTA President Mike Miller. She said that Littleford seeks representatives from the teaching staff balanced across: age, sex, tenure in the system, those with and without family, primary breadwinners, and subjects taught. Burkel said that regarding teacher selection, "He said if the faculty was more comfortable, we can have an outside party actually doing it." "I think it is fine with me if Michael [Miller] does it," said Doyle.

CSC member Chad Koski asked, "Did he address the issue of privacy that he [Miller] was concerned about?" At a previous CSC meeting, Miller expressed concern that teachers would not want to be involved in the final workshop bringing them face-to-face with someone they had criticized, because teachers without tenure might fear retaliation.

Burkel explained how the final workshop fit into the overall facilitation process. She said Littleford will gather information from the individual sessions, and will use the data as the basis for activities in the final workshop. "He is going to have specific recommendations that each of the groups [Doyle, other administrators, CSC, and teachers] would work on." She said small task forces would be created to make sure that those things happened.

Koski asked, "Are the teachers satisfied?" Doyle said she had spoken to Littleford about it, and answered, " I think he is at a place where the teachers are comfortable."

Parent workshops

The CSC is seeking $2,600 in outside funding to pay for Littleford to run four parent focus groups, each group to include up to ten people. Ryder, who is submitting the grant request to the Carlisle School Association (CSA), asked, "Do we have a sense yet on how the selection of those parents is going to be? I'm interested in knowing how he is going to do that." The process should be similar to choosing the teacher group, according to Burkel.

Follow-up with Scott Simpson

Fitzgerald asked Burkel if she had followed up with Scott Simpson, the Carlisle resident who had attempted to ask about the facilitator process during the September 19 CSC meeting. Simpson had been told to hold his question for the comment period at the end of the meeting, but had left by the time the comment period arrived over two hours later. Burkel said she had since spoken to Simpson. "Scott's issue was the timing and how long it [the facilitator process] takes," she said. She explained that the hiring process for the facilitator was delayed because the first candidate, interviewed in July, declined the job.

Before he spoke with Burkel, Simpson told the Mosquito, "It is pretty clear there is a problem going on." His goal in asking his question, he explained, was to "raise consciousness about a process that will take two years. It shouldn't take two years to establish effective leadership. The consultant process guarantees employment for her [Superintendent Doyle]. The cost of the facilitator was not funded in the budget and the school has lost qualified teachers; the intimidation is palatable. The CSC is responsible and [they] have a responsibility to the kids, and to the town. There is no higher reason than making it right for our kids." He added, "I feel badly for everyone. Damage is being done, and even though it's not intended, it has got to stop."

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito