GN: Long time Dunstable Greater Lowell Technical School Committee member Dave Tully used a Point of Personal Privilege at last night’s meeting (after some behind the scene hesitation by Chair Paul Morin) to make a public apology to Superintendent Mary Jo Santoro and to let the graduating students and the Greater Lowell Community know that in his opinion Ms. Santoro was an outstanding Superintendent who didn’t deserve to be treated in the manner some on the board have treated her.
I requested and received a copy of his statement and would like to share that with you all.
Prepared by David E. Tully, SC Representative from Dunstable MA
The following comments relate strictly to my opinion and my opinion alone, although I do know that many people will agree with me, some will not.
Over the last month, the School Committee has begun the process of hiring a new superintendent-director; last month we elected a new chairman. I would like to start with a new beginning, clearing the air and moving forward working together as we have been able to do so many times in the past. With this said, I would appreciate a few minutes to express my thoughts and the feelings of many individuals who have spoken to me over several months
Growing up on a dairy farm in Dunstable, we learned the value of hard work and mutual respect. I go back to a comment my grandfather always said “Treat other people the way you would like to be treated.” I have always tried to follow that advice, although sometimes it is difficult.
My comments, although they may appear critical, are being presented with the hopes of putting the past year behind us and move forward for the benefit of this school, its staff and its students. Many past actions are best “left in the rear view mirror;” so Greater Lowell can move forward and continue its excellent reputation. I am fully aware that I cannot speak for this committee; my comments are my opinion alone.
For the entire length of time that I have been a member of this committee, I have never had as many people speak to me about any other issue. At least from the people that have spoken to me; there is a concern about how the committee has presented itself, in particular; how the current Superintendent-Director has been treated.
I feel that I owe the Superintendent and the residents I represent an apology. I would like the residents, the students and staff of this great school to know that I am also concerned that there may be a feeling that the “school is in disarray; IT IS NOT.”
At a recent School Committee meeting, I personally thought the meeting was less than courteous, respectful or whatever you want to call it. Personally, I found that meeting disgraceful. I was embarrassed for the School Committee and being a part of the Committee that evening; I was especially embarrassed at the way in which Ms. Santoro, a 35 year employee from Special Education Director to Superintendent Director was treated. I fee that I would like to make a public apology, at least for myself.
I have been a member of this Committee for many years; I have participated in some very memorable events, good and bad. The high point was to hand my grandson, a former student of Ms. Santoro, his diploma. The lowest point I ever encountered was the School Committee meeting held in January of 2013, followed in close second being accused of stealing from “these people” by a person who knows better.
I know that the next School Committee meeting will be the last at Greater Lowell for Ms. Santoro as Superintendent-Director and that my comments could probably be said just as well at that meeting. However, I would like my thoughts to be made before the senior class graduation in hopes of making the graduating students aware that, again in my opinion, this school is in very good hands and has been during the entire time of their tenure at Greater-Lowell. After all, during Ms. Santoro’s entire term at this School, it has always been about the students.
I feel honored to have worked with Ms. Santoro for so many years; although not directly until the last possibly ten years. Whether I always agreed with the Superintendent or not; I think she should be proud of her accomplishments and tenure at Greater Lowell.
She has touched and aided the lives of thousands of students passing through this school; their well-being always came first. I know that she is a very tough task-master; but, she doesn’t expect any more than she contributes herself. I have not heard any of the administrative staff complain that she is too strict or unfair.
Ms. Santoro has succeeded very capable Superintendents, each with his/her own qualities, strengths and weaknesses. She has taken what she learned, developed and passed her knowledge on to her successors. I believe that the majority of the current and past School Committee members feel that Ms. Santoro has made major strides forward for the students of this District.
We recently received a report from the DESE in which scores were compared to districts that “DO NOT COMPARE” to Greater Lowell. As I said at that meeting, I felt that some of the comparisons were not true reflections of the education at this school. Ms. Santoro, although she too probably did not agree with the entire report; did not sit down to argue; she sat down to see how the educational process could be improved. After all, it is not about who is right or wrong, it is about helping the students.
I know that I cannot speak for the Committee, but I feel that the School Committee, as a whole, owes the Superintendent-Director an apology for some actions, again in my opinion, over this past year, which has led to her decision not to request a renewal of her contract. We have all said things that maybe we later regret; I believe that is probably the case here.
Personally, and I hope the majority of this committee, feels that Ms. Santoro has done an excellent job at Greater-Lowell and will be a very tough act to follow. I wish her well and I am sure the majority of this Committee does as well as she leaves the District.
I am very appreciative that the citizens of the Town of Dunstable have allowed me the opportunity to represent them; I can assure you that its residents appreciate Ms. Santoro’s efforts and contributions to this school.
Thank you, Ms. Santoro, for dedicating your career to the students of Greater Lowell Technical High School. I consider you to be an extremely capable and qualified administrator and hopefully, a friend.
I thank the Committee for listening to my comments; please let’s put this past year behind us so we can move Greater Lowell forward as it has always done.Ms. Santoro, I wish you nothing but the best in the future.
David E. Tully