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Analy's Teachers' Union Blames Superintendent Meredith for Loss of Top Administrators
Resolution questions his leadership; suggests possible discrimination; outlines area for growth
Two weeks after news of resignation of Analy’s Principal and two Vice Principals became public, members of the West Sonoma County Teachers’ Association (WSCTA, the teacher’s union) crowded into the District office conference room and presented a resolution to the West Sonoma County Union High School District on Wednesday afternoon. The resolution called Superintendent Chris Meredith’s first year “a failure” and that discrimination “could be potentially present in the superintendent’s behaviors,” leading three women administrators to leave.
After Board President Julie Aiello opened the meeting, Randy Hall, a digital media teacher at Analy and WSCTA Secretary, read the resolution aloud. He was backed by at least 20 teachers standing in the room with the five board trustees and Superintendent Chris Meredith seated at a conference table.
Here’s the full resolution (as transcribed from a recording):
Whereas the past month has seen three respected administrators, each with long histories in the district, all resigning in the first year of the superintendent, this marks a failure of our superintendent and calls into serious question his capacity to be a leader in our district. Additionally, since all three resigning administrators are women, the fact that discrimination against a protected class could potentially be present in the superintendent's behaviors cannot be brushed aside.
Whereas attracting and retaining highly effective site administration, staff and faculty is incumbent upon the superintendent, and whereas the current superintendent has requested a renegotiation of his current contract be it resolved:
1) Cessation of any contract negotiations between the district and superintendent pending a full and transparent evaluation of the superintendent's job performance over the duration of his original contract term;
2) Until such time that the superintendent demonstrates he is able to create a safe and productive workspace for all West Sonoma County Union High School district employees, the superintendent's contract should not be extended beyond the original ending date of spring summer 2025;
3) The representative counsel of the West Sonoma County Teachers Association has identified the following 10 growth areas, and we urge the board to adopt these points as part of their own evaluation process and growth plan for the superintendent, along with the plan for involving staff and site administrators in candid conversations regarding his job performance.
Areas identified for needed growth:
First supports professional judgment and agency of staff.
Responsive to staff input when making decisions.
Empowers female staff in the roles as district leaders.
Shows more concern with effective education than with public relations.
Demonstrates effective communication techniques by prioritizing listening.
Uses a professional tone and register when speaking with staff.
Demonstrates confidence by deferring to staff with expertise.
Establishes a firm level of trust between leadership and staff.
Is authentic, honest, and sincere when communicating with staff.
Demonstrates the tenants of positive leadership.
For the purposes of this list, staff refers to district staff, administrators, certificated and classified employees.
We the undersigned members of the West Sonoma County Teachers’ Association Executive Board and Representative Council, along with our appointed negotiators, affirm this resolution.
After the resolution was read, the teachers immediately left the room. The Board then went into closed session with “Superintendent Review” on the agenda.
According to Superintendent Meredith, the Board took no action in closed session to report out to the public. “I take the concerns of WSCTA seriously and I will continue to collaborate with our teachers, staff, and all educational partners as we transition with a new administrative team,” Meredith wrote in email on Thursday. “As the superintendent, I look forward to providing the best possible outcomes for student achievement as we continue our work together.”
“The board takes the concerns of the school community very seriously,” said Board President Julie Aiello in email on Thursday. “The board and superintendent are making every effort to gain information that will improve communication in the future. We feel communication is the key to continuing all the wonderful programs our district is developing and currently has in place. It is the board’s intention to recruit an administrative team that will support our vision of an inclusive education that will benefit all of our diverse students and their families.”
I asked Lily Smedshammer, WSCTA President, by email if the resolution was a vote of “no-confidence” for the superintendent. “This resolution is not a no-confidence vote,” she replied. “To take that kind of vote, we would need to track down every member of the WSCTA to get their opinion on record. Instead, we wanted to send a clear message that we are dissatisfied with the superintendent’s ability to retain our talented, dedicated site administrators.”
Asked what the WSCTA thinks the Board should do, Smedshammer replied: “At a minimum, the WSCTA would expect the trustees to put the superintendent on a growth plan. All too often district leadership has contract renewals, extensions, improvements, without a thorough investigation of their work performance. That practice needs to end. The trustees need to take an active role in reviewing the superintendent’s efficacy.”
The formal expression of concerns from Analy’s teachers and the Board’s routine response could make it more challenging to recruit new administrators who will find themselves stepping into the middle of the unresolved issues between the Superintendent Meredith and the teachers.
Meanwhile, Analy’s juniors and seniors are preparing for their prom this Saturday. The prom theme is Met Gala. The last day of school is June 1.
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