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An Open Letter to the School Committee and Dr. Bodie

posted Jan 13, 2017, 11:16 AM by Moriah Tyrrell   [ updated Jan 21, 2017, 8:48 PM by Greg Dennis ]
Dear Members of the School Committee and Dr. Bodie: 

We are writing this letter to urge you to conduct an open search for the two middle school principal positions, Ottoson and Gibbs, rather than limiting the searches to internal candidates. Our suggestion is based on the following reasons:
  1. An Opportunity to Innovate
    Arlington’s new middle school structure represents an exciting opportunity to rethink our students’ transition to middle school. It’s an opportunity to be innovative with both the curriculum and the physical space of the school building. Although many talented administrators currently work in Arlington’s public school system, by opening up your search we will meet candidates with different backgrounds, ideas, and perspectives. The search process alone could be illuminating and bring forward new ideas. The principal you choose will be instrumental in shaping a vision for this exciting new school, which we expect will be part of our students’ experience for many years to come.

  2. An Opportunity for Diversity
    Hiring and retaining a diverse faculty is a well-documented challenge for our school system. According to the state’s diversity report released in October, 75% of Arlington’s students are white and 84% of the staff is white. In discussing this report at a School Committee meeting, you expressed a desire to close this gap. Every opening is an opportunity to do so, but if you decide to hire from within for this position, the diversity of our faculty will not increase. Little will change if this is the administration’s regular practice.

  3. An Opportunity for Goal Setting
    Naming an internal candidate now so they can spend the 2017-2018 academic year planning for the opening of the new school has the potential to limit the programming at the new school. Let’s not restrict the programming for the new sixth grade to the vision of the first person who is hired to lead. Instead, we propose developing the programs and goals based on what our district and community want to see for our schools and then hiring the best person to lead that vision.
We look forward to hearing more about the Gibbs parent committee because we know parents are excited about the new school and eager to be engaged. Convening the committee is an important step in making the development of the school transparent. We believe this transparency should include the process for hiring new principals. It would be ideal for the parent committee to meet regularly and receive updates on the hiring process. If there are compelling reasons to prefer an internal-only search, those reasons could be articulated clearly and openly and then carefully weighed against the advantages of an open search.

Thank you for considering our request and for the work you do on behalf of our students. 


The School Enrollment Parent Group