Gaylord F. Saulsberry: Criticizes Amherst school hiring decisions

Thursday, June 07, 2018
Criticizes Amherst school hiring decisions

The article recounting the failure to hire a middle school principal is a tale too often repeated in the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District when it comes to adding diversity to the educational staff (“Civil rights complaint filed against schools,” May 25).

This story, and ones that have preceded it, speak to the failure of the system to take seriously the interests of underrepresented groups within the system’s educational population. Christine Harmon’s public comments to the regional school committee were accurate, relevant and historically true. The hiring process in the system has been steeped in the “old boy,” and more recently, “old girl,” system of privilege.

As a 20-year employee of the regional system, seven as the high school principal, and 13 as a high school classroom teacher, I have witnessed, experienced and responded to acts of discrimination against under-represented groups.

With sorrow and disgust, I have reached the conclusion that the manner in which the interests of people with unacknowledged voices have been frustrated in their efforts for inclusion is institutionally based. This conclusion is self-evident in the rejection of the two candidates put forward for Superintendent Michael Morris’ approval.

The procedures used by the superintendent and the regional committee to reject these candidates is evidence of their refusal to be honest and forthcoming to the community. The efforts of parents and students on the interview committee were rendered unimportant by the superintendent’s actions.

The use of educational legal verbiage used to obscure the decision was an insult to the interview committee and the public, and makes the notion of transparency laughable.

This decision, coupled with the system’s continued paltry recruitment of a diverse instructional population, for which it often unjustifiably heaps praise on itself, increases the alienation between the system and voices that are not being heard. The notion of creating a diverse school community is becoming more and more an institutionalized myth.

If the School Committee, school administration and superintendent cannot quickly change their approach to hiring and listening, the system might as well hang out a shingle that reads, “Diversity not a priority, do not apply here.”

Gaylord F. Saulsberry


The writer is a former principal and teacher at Amherst-Pelham Regional High School.