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Events have moved quickly since we learned of Mary Beth Banios’ resignation as principal of Hildreth Elementary School.

There was one unusual, untelevised, early morning School Committee meeting the following Friday, and one more meeting last Monday. Somehow, by Monday night, according to school board chair, Keith Cheveralls, the decision had already been made to seek an interim principal and, what’s more, this decision was final! There would be no time for the community to absorb the news, no opportunity for public input, no consideration of any other ideas than to replace Ms. Banios with an interim principal for a year.

Sorry, but this decision seems precipitous at best and, at worst, contemptuous of the public and especially the elementary-school parents, of which I am one. In past years Harvard has seen a superintendent serve jointly as high school principal and a special-ed director go on to serve as elementary school principal, two events that occurred during my time in town. There have probably been other creative reshufflings of personnel that I’m not personally aware of.

Today there is an offer on the table for the current superintendent to oversee HES while we look for a permanent replacement. And yet, notwithstanding these precedents, we are about to rush out and find a caretaker, a person unfamiliar with our school and unknown to parents, staff, and students, and give this person $90,000 to do….what exactly? Keep the lights on while we pay additional sums to an executive recruitment firm to sift potential replacements? Would this be the best solution, even if we weren’t in the middle of a fiscal crisis?

Parents of elementary-school students deserve an opportunity to be heard. All interested residents deserve an opportunity to be heard. In turn, we have a right to hear from knowledgeable people, including the superintendent and other school administrators, as to possible courses of action. The time for “final decisions” is when issues have been aired, opinions have been solicited, and there is, at the very least, the appearance of a deliberative process.

MARIA KAUFMANN

Harvard