By NICK GRABBE Friday, September 11, 2009
AMHERST - A Middle School parent is trying to work out a deal that could get former Principal Glenda Cresto who resigned Aug. 31 back on the job.
Julia Rueschemeyer, an Amherst lawyer and mediator, said she has been talking to Cresto and Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez in an attempt to bring them together to reconsider the resignation. She has offered to mediate such a meeting.
Rueschemeyer said in her conversation with Cresto Sept. 3, she learned that Cresto would like to, as Rueschemeyer put it, "find her way back" to the post.
Rueschemeyer and parent Mary Jo Viederman met privately with Rodriguez Sept. 3. Rueschemeyer then spoke to Cresto and told her Rodriguez said the decision to reconsider was up to her.
"She is interested in sitting down and having a conversation with the four of us," Rueschemeyer wrote in an email message to Rodriguez Sept. 4. "Given what you told us about your vision and how that aligned with her vision, I think that it would be worth it to see if there is enough common ground to repair the damage that has been done."
She read the email message out loud at a School Committee meeting this week.
Rodriguez had said that Cresto resigned because she was not a "good fit" for the position, and acknowledged that criticism of the middle school did not create "ideal working conditions." On Tuesday he announced that a consultant will be hired to study the middle school and come up with a "blueprint of next steps."
Rueschemeyer said the trigger for Cresto's resignation was a massive student scheduling mix-up that came to light just after the middle school opened.
"It has been too many years without consistent leadership at the middle school, and the community needs that stability," she wrote to Rodriguez. "The children are the ones who suffer. Glenda's return to the middle school would allow the whole community to breathe a sigh of relief and continue the important work that she and the teachers started."
On Sept. 7, Rodriguez responded to the email saying that Cresto should contact him, according to a copy of the email provided by Rueschemeyer.
At Tuesday's School Committee meeting, Rueschemeyer said it would be helpful if Rodriguez called Cresto and asked her to come back. Rodriguez responded that Cresto had not contacted him and said he is "uncomfortable talking about personnel."
Rueschemeyer then talked to Cresto again and later said, "She would like to be able to find a way back to the middle school."
"She felt that the superintendent was so upset about the scheduling confusion that there would be no way for the two of them to move forward," she said in an email message to the Gazette Wednesday. "She believes that they had the same vision for the middle school, but that right when the schedule problem happened, executing this vision would have been impossible."
Now Cresto, and perhaps Rodriguez, have more perspective and realize that scheduling is only a small part of the principal's job, Rueschemeyer said.
"I'm sure they are starting to realize that having her leave three days into the job and under such secrecy undermined their shared vision more than any scheduling conflict," she said.
In response to Cresto's resignation, Rodriguez asked high school principal Mark Jackson to assume responsibility over the middle school as well, and named Michael Hayes senior assistant principal.
Rueschemeyer said that for Rodriguez and the School Committee to consult the same attorney about whether to comment on the Cresto resignation represents a conflict of interest. Committee member Catherine Sanderson said she agreed, saying the committee "needs to receive legal advice from its own attorney."