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Response to "Fear in Rye"

A response to Rye Patch Blog, Dr. Alvarez and the P.O. Presidents about Mrs. Patricia Taylor’s impending tenure decision.

 

I have decided to speak out about the current state of Rye High School and specifically the issue of Principal Taylor’s tenure.  I am a Rye resident who has sent two children through the district and who has one more child in the high school.  I feel a strong obligation to the community to provide insight into what has transpired at the high school over the past two and a half years.  The impetus for my coming forward was last month’sblog posting by “Mary Grace.”  Most of us are aware of the official responses and the unofficial reactions from many community members on the message boards.  I was pleased to see that the blogosphere was appropriately quiet during our two-week vacation.  Now that our children are returning to school, I feel it is necessary to rekindle the discussion and refocus the dialogue.  Here are some major points that warrant our attention:

 

•I was at first dismayed that the information presented by “Mary Grace” came out in a local blog instead of at a meeting with the superintendent, at a board meeting or in a newspaper.  I originally felt that the substance of the posting was overshadowed by the method in which it was released.  However, it didn’t take me long to find out why the blogger resorted to using this medium.  After talking to many of my friends in the community and a large group of teachers with whom I’ve become friendly over the years, I discovered that many of the issues raised in the blog post have been discussed over the past year with the superintendent andthe assistant superintendent and some with the principal herself.  Administrators, teachers, support staff, and parents have followed the proper protocol and brought these alarming problems to the heads of the district and the high school through both formal and informal meetings.  What option is left after you discover that no mechanism exists to raise red flags about a principal of one of our schools?•I also understand that some people were disappointed with the blogger’s use of a pseudonym.  I too struggled with the dilemma of posting behind the veil of anonymity.  I would like to stand behind my words and information, but thereseems to be a real threat of retribution for coming out and exposing these unflattering and concerning revelations about Mrs. Taylor.  I think is it important to point out that every level of law enforcement from the FBI to the Rye police use anonymous tips as a way to begin an investigation.  Begin is the operative word here.  No one should accept “Mary Grace’s” accusations at her word, but her post should serve as a starting point for a wider investigation and evaluation.•Dr. Alvarez’s characterization that the blog post was done to “discredit and embarrass Mrs. Taylor” is disconcerting. The bullet points seemed to be trying toexpose problems, inform the community, and illustrate a pattern of incompetence and poor leadership. Isn’t it the superintendent’s responsibility to investigate the allegations before dismissing them as “illegitimate?” I would recommend that the superintendent and board of education convene a large committee comprised of fellow administrators, teachers with over 5 years of experience (guaranteeing they have worked under 3 different principals), support staff members, high school parents (both current and past), and students.  If the group represents a largeenough cross section of the high school community, we should be ensured a fair assessment and tenure recommendation.  This committee should discuss both the positives and negatives of Mrs. Taylor’s time as principal and have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with her.  The bottom line is: we as parents deserve a serious look into what seems to be incompetence at best and cronyism and duplicity at worst.•I thought the PO Presidents’ letter was illuminating as well.  I know the two presidents (my daughter is in the same class as their two sons) and have a great deal of respect for them.  They have worked tirelessly on our behalf and deserve our admiration.  I took a hard look at their letter noticed a prevailing theme: they predominately discussed the serious issues facing our children’s education: APPR, the Common Core, RCSD’s enrollment, the tax cap, and the district budget.  They explained how difficult all these issues have been and provided an update on how they and the administration have been working to mitigate the impact on our children’s education. If one takes the time to read the information in the posting, none of the serious complaints and allegations have anything to do with the aforementioned school issues the P.O. is dealing with. Community members aren’t upset that Mrs. Taylor is mismanaging the new APPR process, fumbling the implementation of the Common Core, overloading classes, or cutting teachers, programs and teams/clubs.  Everyone can understand that these would be viewed as curveballs she couldn’t expect or situations out of her control.  The problems in the posting have everything to do with Mrs. Taylor’s lack of professional qualifications, her leadership deficiencies and her questionable character.•Speaking of the allegations in the posting, I have found it alarming that no one,Mrs. Taylor included, has come out and debunked any of them. Why hasn’t anyone disproved the bullet points?  This whole issue would be moot if Mrs. Taylor just picked apart the allegations one by one and embarrassed and discredited the original post. Don’t we deserve to know what is true and what is fiction?  Why have all these assistant principals left?  Where is the transparency in the hiring process of new assistant principals?  Is Mrs. Taylor’s character questionable?  Has she endangered the social/emotional health of our kids?  Has she been proven a liar?  Has she mismanaged the school?  Does she engage in cronyism?  Does she have all the proper qualifications/skill to run our school in the future?  •Personally, I have had very few interactions with Mrs. Taylor, but I have talked with my children, teachers, and other parents and heard an overwhelming din of discontent and frustration.  The reason for this movement is the future well being of the school.  We will always have our top rankings because of how industrious our children are, how competent the AP teachers are, and how supportive the parents are – we do not owe our ranking to Mrs. Taylor.  What concerns the parents and students of Rye is: the lack of a role model in the principal’s office; her lack of integrity; her seeming inability to work well with others and lead the teaching staff; her inability to advocate for the high school; her lack ofunderstanding of education iself; and her inability to connect with our children and understand their needs.  I know that Mrs. Taylor works hard at her job; she puts in the hours and tries to succeed.  She was even a very competent head of the guidance department.  However, being principal of the high school necessitates a completely different skill set; a skill set that she unfortunately doesn’t possess and is unable to acquire.  The most common comment I hear about Mrs. Taylor in the community is that, “She is in way over her head.”•This community has always valued excellence, forward thinking and great minds.  We strive to reach the top of our fields, whatever they may be, and we encourage our children to do the same. To truly excel at something, you must have the necessary education, and, critically, the desire to know as much about your field as you can learn.  That Mrs. Taylor lacks a terminal degree in education and is not in the process of pursuing one (at least that I’m aware of) is deeply concerning.  The final point is that we deserve the best possible principal for our children.  Her position is incredibly important and we owe it to ourselves to investigate all the allegations before she receives tenure.  We all know horror stories about teachers/administrators who have slipped through the cracks of the tenure process.  Let’s never have to wonder whether this community should have done more to prevent her from negatively affecting the school for years to come.•So what can we do?  We should email/phone Dr. Alvarez and board members and ask them to convene a committee charged with debating Mrs. Taylor’s impending tenure decision.  We should ask the same people to investigate the charges made against Mrs. Taylor and find out if there are more problems we are unaware of.

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