Milton Anti-Racist Coalition calls for robust national superintendent search process to ensure transformative new MPS leadership
Dear Milton Public School Committee,
The Milton Anti-Racism Coalition (MARC) was surprised and concerned to learn about Superintendent Mary Gormley’s retirement. We respect her privacy and hope her family member receives the care and support they need. We thank her for her 46 years of service in Milton Schools.
We also recognize this has been a challenging year and that committee members have invested a great deal of personal time to ensure that our schools may reopen safely while continuing to deal with issues of racial inequity in our schools. We want to thank you for your ongoing commitment to our schools and to ensuring that all community voices are heard.
The School Committee is now faced with a crucial decision at a critical moment for racial equity in our schools. The interim superintendent will lead Milton Public Schools (MPS) through a time where the potential for worsening health and educational inequities has never been greater in our district’s history. Our national and global society has experienced the devastation of the health pandemic. Our societal reckoning with racism continues to retraumatize particularly those in our Black community. Milton’s schools have not escaped these harsh realities. This moment requires us to take stock of what Milton needs in an interim superintendent in order for the School Committee to meet its own stated goal of achieving equity and safety for all students in the Return to School (RTS) plan, and of transforming MPS to an exemplar excellent, equitable and antiracist school district, effective immediately.
We write as a committed coalition of parents and community members to share our expectations for the interim superintendent appointment that we believe will best position the district for success towards its stated goals of safety, excellence, equity, and antiracism.
The interim superintendent should be a uniting figure in the community, one who will continue to build upon the excellence-with-equity, antiracist platform that the district has committed to adopting. The School Committee and district leadership has worked hard to build a growing trust among the students, teachers and families in this time of crises. The moment is still fragile and the leader appointed as interim superintendent sends a strong message about Milton’s commitment to change and investment in racial justice and equity.
With this context in mind, we recommend these considerations for a superintendent in the interim:
- Proven leadership experience designing and implementing institutional equity plans through the school system and infrastructure
- Educational leader preferably a person of color with experience leading a diverse community of learners
- Experience and/or scholarship in equity, inclusion, diversity fields of study
- Track record of fostering inclusive environments that support the needs of our school population with diverse, multiple and intersecting identities
- Forward-thinking collaborative leader offering a safe, welcoming, and inclusive school climate for all students, faculty and staff
- Experience facilitating and encouraging community building and partnership through varying cultural and linguistic outreach initiatives to families and parents
- Leader with experience building, retaining, recruiting and supporting teacher investment in anti-racist curriculum and pedagogy
- Track record of instilling confidence in change management initiatives that build an anti-racist school system
We ask that these qualifications are considered and prioritized. We expect transparency and request that the School Committee publicly share the extent to which these criteria are included in the selection process, and how the appointed candidate meets (or does not meet) these criteria, if included. If these criteria are not considered and included, and instead other criteria are prioritized, we request that the School Committee share its criteria and decision-making framework in detail at its next public meeting so that parents understand how the decision was made, and the reasons for not prioritizing these qualifications.
Superintendent Gormley’s departure also raises critical near-term questions about continuity that we ask that the School Committee members address at its next public meeting. Will the new interim superintendent implement the existing RTS hybrid/remote choice plan or require a different RTS plan? How are issues of inequity in RTS being anticipated, identified, monitored, and addressed on an ongoing, real-time basis so that inequities do not form early in the school year? Who is going to lead the teams that will be holding the schools accountable to and supporting the schools in addressing issues of equity?
Last week, Superintendent Gormley had scheduled a meeting with the principals of all the Milton schools and a group of MARC parent educators. That group had planned to obtain a status update on the MARC-related projects Superintendent Gormely initiated as well as start a dialogue directly with principals to listen and understand ways that MARC might assist the schools in implementing MARC’s platform, beginning with RTS planning. The need for this meeting carries another level of urgency in this current moment and we hope that it will be prioritized by the newly appointed interim superintendent.
MARC was created to advance racial justice and equity in our town by holding the district accountable for implementing anti-racist excellence with equity education, and by empowering and elevating the voices of antiracist, and in particular, BIPOC students and parents . We encourage you to continue to engage MARC as a resource that can support and bolster these initiatives. We are focused on creating a school system that brings the full dignity and humanity of all of our children to the forefront of their education.
MARC Strategy Group and Educators Group Members
Beverly Ross Denny