Hampshire Gazette, September 9, 2009
By NICK GRABBE
AMHERST - Parents told the Regional School Committee Tuesday of their distress over the resignation of middle school principal Glenda Cresto just after classes started.
Julia Rueschemeyer praised Cresto's flexibility and openness and said she called her to ask her to consider coming back. Rueschemeyer, a lawyer and mediator, said she would like to arrange a meeting between Cresto, Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez, herself and another parent.
She said it would be helpful if Rodriguez called Cresto and ask her to come back. "Ms. Cresto will need to contact me," he said.
Karen Levine said the resignation seems to be "shrouded in mystery," and this has created "a level of stress that is extremely distressing for parents."
Jennifer Keller Jackson said her eighth-grader asked, "Why on earth did the principal resign on the third day, and are we ever going to know?"
Several School Committee members said Rodriguez can't legally talk about Cresto's situation because it's a personnel matter, and even they don't know exactly what happened.
"It's her business, and if she wants to tell you, she will," said member Kathleen Anderson. "It's not our right to try to fish out something we don't have a right to have."
Several parents criticized Rodriguez for not communicating the information about Cresto more effectively. "My priority was acting quickly to bring stability to the middle school," he responded.
But he also said, "Could we have done it crisper? Yes." He said he didn't want to "raise hysteria."
Committee members Irv Rhodes and Steve Rivkin said they are concerned about stretching high school principal Mark Jackson too much by giving him responsibility for the middle school.
"Splitting Mark threatens to make him psychotic," said Rhodes. "I want his full attention on the high school."
Rodriguez responded that "it's not like the school is devoid of administrators." Michael Hayes has become senior assistant principal at the middle school, and Libby Hurley acts as assistant principal.
He said it's hard to hire a new principal at this time of year, and the situation will be reassessed in December.
Rodriguez thanked Hayes for redoing the class schedules of all 490 students over the weekend, after a mix-up that was revealed just before Cresto resigned. He said he is negotiating with a consultant who can study the middle school and provide "a blueprint for next steps."
Jackson "has a vested interest in having things go well" at the middle school because those students will move on to the high school, Rodriguez said.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.