On Tuesday night, an informal conversation took place between Board of Education Chair Bruce Putterman, Vice-Chair Elin Katz, Republican board member Ellen Brassil, and seven current parents to discuss issues that have been raised following a last week by a group of parents calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Principal Kathleen Tracy.
Several parents publicly of their experiences with Tracy, and Republican Board of Education members Brassil and Lib Spinella responded soon thereafter with a and that the board meet next week to discuss the matter.
All who were in attendance Tuesday night stressed that this was not a formal meeting, merely a discussion meant to clarify misconceptions and diffuse the potentially partisan divide on the Board of Education. The Board of Education Members Facebook page made note of the upcoming meeting prior to its occurrence, and invited comments from the public. No comments have been made to date.
Shellie Giroux, who was one of the seven parents – two dads and five moms – in attendance, stressed that the specifics of the meeting could not be shared publicly at this point.
Board of Education Chair Putterman has stated publicly that this is a personnel issue, which needs to be addressed by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen List who has been on vacation out of the country. Sources say that List is scheduled to return to her office on Friday. Putterman would not comment on Tuesday night’s discussion.
Following Tuesday’s meeting Giroux, a former Duffy PTO president who is now president of the Sedgwick PTO and PT Council, said that it is obvious that the Board of Education is concerned, and she is confident that this issue “will be resolved quickly, with the best interests and intentions by Dr. List when she returns.”
While all seven parents who spoke with Putterman, Katz, and Brassil on Tuesday had signed the petition, Giroux said, “We have no intention of dividing the community – that makes everyone a loser. All we want to do is give people a voice.”
“Those who have come forward in support of Kathleen are not in possession of the 40 plus anecdotes showing a consistent disturbing pattern of behavior toward children unacceptable in an elementary school principal,” said Giroux.
Giroux said that this is not intended to be political, but is all about the children. She pointed out an article in the July 25, 2012 issue of the West Hartford News where Tracy is quoted as saying, “Education should be about collaboration.”
“We could not agree more,” Giroux said.
“However the pattern shown in the events brought to light by this effort shows not only a lack but an inhibition of collaboration. No one wanted this but parents were left with no alternative method of voicing their concern for the children,” said Giroux.
Brassil praised the honesty and compassion for children expressed by the parents she met with Tuesday night. She said, “Last night the Board Chair, Vice Chair and I met with a group of dignified and respectful parents whose patience and concern for children is praiseworthy. My colleagues and I spoke with them as we look at the big picture and want to be responsive.”
She said she looks forward to everyone having the opportunity to express their views to the superintendent upon her return from vacation.