On May 12, 2021, you were treated to the spectacle of the year, one in which the entire administrative team of the consolidated school district came before you to ask you to ignore the request of more than 1,300 petitioners for you to look into the firing of Harwood boys’ hockey coach Jacob Grout. Remarkably, although one school board member admitted to feeling “pressure,” no one on the board spoke out against the abuse of authority that you were bearing witness to.

Who in the administration in their right mind would have possibly sat out this farce or, better yet, bravely stated the obvious, that the Harwood athletic director and the superintendent clearly overreacted by firing coach Grout? Only those members of the administrative team who either: 1) had a death wish; or 2) were retiring and no longer needed to curry favor from the superintendent, of which there were none (zero). The future livelihood of each of these administrators depends on them remaining in the good graces of the superintendent; they can ill afford to ignore her demands. And this is a strategy that has been used repeatedly in the past by this superintendent, including in 2017, when Amy Rex sent a critical letter to the board right before leaving for greener pastures and in 2018, as well, when the superintendent sent an email out to the members of her administrative team asking them to dig up dirt about yours truly from the confines of the board table, while in the middle of a board meeting!

And what about the timing of this whole coach-firing charade? Is it simply a coincidence that this situation arose at the same time that a new school board, with a number of new members and a sea-change in the overall philosophy of the board, had just begun its work? Or was it instead a none-too-thinly veiled attempt by the superintendent to force you into the fold, to introduce your newest members to the “us versus them” mentality that has served this superintendent so well these past 13 years?

Faculty morale in this district is cracked and faltering. You can begin a process of restoration by censuring your leadership and the superintendent for allowing the travesty of May 12 to take place, sending a clear signal to the hard workers of this consolidated district that extortive demands of acts of fealty by your employee (that is, the superintendent) to your employee will no longer be tolerated. I urge you to do so.

Nussbaum lives in Moretown.