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Questions from Deborah McDermott

The documents that I received indicate that on several occasions, the York School Department
administration chose to limit your access to department buildings due to what they saw as disruptive
behavior. I would like to know a) whether you agree with their assessment of your behavior and b)
what, from your point of view, precipitated the incidents described. If you could answer these two
questions with regard to the numbered statements below, I would appreciate it.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond because this is a very complicated set of
circumstances. It involves my son and I will always maintain his right to privacy. However, the
information as presented is not accurate. I have tried as the parent of a special needs student to
advocate effectively for my son. However, the school has put up roadblocks around his education and
I know from having talked with community members I am not alone in the stonewalling from the
administration. Whether you are a parent of a special needs student or any other student I will
advocate strongly to right the ship that clearly is way off course for all our students. Challenging
authority is often met with resistance but I can think of no better reason to do so than our children.

1. In December, 2015, the York police were called to the central office after receiving a call that
you were “verbally abusive and aggressive” toward Debra Dunn; this incident followed an earlier
incident at VES, where April Noble said you exhibited similar behavior, the police report states.
As a result, the police issued you Notice to Cease Harassment and a 14-day trespass order.

It’s important to put this in context. My son had been injured at school. I was trying to gain
information about what happened – of course I was upset. Notably, there was no school nurse
present even though my son suffered a relatively significant injury. As I approached the school, trying
to gain information, I was stonewalled at every turn - whether it was my request to see him two hours
after the incident, trying to track down the report which had gotten lost in the system or trying to gain
details about what happened and why a school nurse was not available. So yes, I am quite sure I did
raise my voice. I also know I am not the only parent who feels this way in the community and it is one
reason, among many, I am running for school committee.
2. Debra Dunn wrote you a letter stating that you were no longer permitted to attend IEP team
meetings in person as support for a family. She said you were permitted to participate by phone.
Dunn states as her reason for this that “in virtually every meeting, you have been antagonistic
toward the staff participating in the meeting and the persons running the meeting.” Further, she
states you have been known to be sarcastic, angry and that you “intimidate” most members of
the team.

Again, challenging the administration is met with this type of response. I am a strong advocate for
children. At the end of the day, this is about what is best for the children even if it means challenging
those making decisions that affect our children every day. Here is a good example - Ms. Dunn’s
criticism extended to a meeting I attended at the request of other parents who were having a difficult
time getting services for their child. At that meeting, the family was told by the Special Education
Director that she had to remove a service from the student’s IEP because the York School Department
did not have the resources. The Special Education Director stated that she was acting on the advice of
legal counsel. When I challenged that decision, saying it was a violation of the child’s rights, and a
violation of the IDEA, the Special Educator Director again maintained that she was correct, and that
she had been advised by legal counsel that she was correct. This family followed up with the State
Director of Special Services, who informed them York’s Special Education Director was incorrect in her
assertions. It was after that meeting that Ms. Dunn decided that I “intimidated” most members of the
team.

3. Just this past February, there was an incident at Central Office. From what the documents state,
you say that the front office staff told you Lou was not in his office. After ascertaining that he
was in his office, by entering that second door, you told him in an email that you returned to the
front desk and “simply informed the woman who said that you had gone that you had not,”
adding that you were “extremely civil.” Lou later told me the front desk folks told you he was
“not available,” not that he was gone. In any event, he told you in an email that staff fond your
behavior “rude and insulting.” And in a letter, he asks that you set up an appointment in
advance when visiting the central office.

I knew running for school committee would have its price. This negative campaign by a seated school
board member through the media is a good example. It is important to point out that Mr. Goscinski’s
letter that you reference was dated in April nearly two months after the referenced encounter at the
central office but just one week after I took out papers to run for School Committee. Neither Mr.
Goscinski nor his staff were uncomfortable enough to have written a letter limiting my attendance at
their office at any point between February 13th and April.

This is exactly the type of interaction between families and administration I seek to improve as a
member of the School Committee – more compassion and empathy, communication and
transparency, and willingness to work with parents instead of against them. Parents and schools
should be allies in supporting every child’s best possible school experience.

Do you believe that you can act collaboratively with the other members of the school committee?

Of course, I decided to run for School Committee after a lot of thought and deliberation. I am 100%
confident that I can work collaboratively to help the committee and the school make lasting changes
that address York families’ concerns and elevate our schools and educational services to best in class.

It is notable however, that my opponent for school committee filed the FOAA. Ms. Schmid has never
reached out to me or my husband to try and assist with the issues that are so clearly present within
our school system. Her interest lies in getting reelected. My interests lie in getting the best education
for all our children.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you would like to add at this time?

We in the community all want the same things: collaboration, support of one another, the
achievement of common goals. We want to see our children and school district thrive and to be able
to meet whatever challenges the future may bring. My goal as a community member and
professional is to lead that drive – toward transparency, greater collaboration, and forward progress
to help ensure the York School district continues to grow. This community and its schools is poised to
become an educational leader in the state and even nationally. This is a community where neighbors
look out for one another, and can meet challenges together, openly discussing the issues. Allowing for
discourse and healthy debate. I have spent my career in the service of others and ever a student
working to build knowledge and expertise to meet challenges and changes and deliver positive
results.