More changes for Roosevelt Elementary
By Kathy McCabe
| Globe Staff May 25, 2014
A real-life game of musical chairs is playing out in Melrose at the Roosevelt Elementary School , which is getting its third principal in five years, while the transfer of a popular veteran teacher has upset parents.
The new principal, Mary Beth Maranto, was chosen from three finalists who toured the kindergarten-through-Grade 5 school early this month. Maranto is currently principal of the John C. Tilton Innovation School in Haverhill.
Current principal Grace Basile will leave the district next month after just two years at Roosevelt.
Basile did not respond to requests by phone and e-mail seeking comment. But in a letter to parents, Basile said she had found it difficult “to find a balance between the demands in my own life and the demands of being a principal so far from home.” Basile lives in New Hampshire.
More change is also on the way for the first and second grades at the 393-student school. A new teacher will be hired for the fall to replace a teacher who is retiring.
Two new first-grade teachers started at the school this year. A third new first-grade teacher will replace Joanne Kimball Sherman, who has taught at Roosevelt Elementary for 18 years.
Kimball Sherman said she is being involuntarily transferred to the Hoover Elementary School. She also is vice president of the Melrose Education Association, the union representing 248 teachers in the school district.
Kimball Sherman’s transfer has angered some Roosevelt parents, who have launched an online petition and a Facebook page to pressure district officials to reverse the decision. As of Thursday, the petition had 250 signatures.
“It’s an uphill battle, but it’s one I think we all need to fight,” said Sara Bird, vice president of the Roosevelt PTO. “We think she’s incredible and we don’t want to lose her.”
Kimball Sherman is copresident of the Roosevelt PTO, and regularly attends community events, parents said. “She is one of the most visible teachers at our school,” said Danielle Champoux Bohnke, the PTO’s other copresident.
The Roosevelt PTO is remaining neutral on Kimball Sherman’s transfer, Bohnke said. However, she was one of several parents who voiced support for Kimball Sherman during a meeting of the School Committee on May 13.
“I just wanted to make sure that they were aware, regardless of what is happening, that we had a great experience with Joanne,” Bohnke said of her comments to the committee members. “It’s important that, as parents, we show that we truly care about our teachers.”
Bird, who did not speak at the meeting, said she is concerned about the revolving door of principals and teachers in the lower grades at the Roosevelt.
“Our school has gone through a lot of change,” said Bird, mother of a fifth-grader. “Mrs. Kimball Sherman has been a staple at the school. All the kids know her, even if they didn’t have her.”
In an interview, Kimball Sherman said she has been a teacher for 32 years. She first taught deaf students before being hired in Melrose 18 years ago as a special education teacher at Roosevelt. She has taught first grade since 2000, she said.
On the advice of her lawyer, Kimball Sherman, 54, said she could not discuss the reasons for her transfer, but she is fighting it through the teachers union. “A grievance has been filed on my behalf,” she said, and declined further comment.
Kristin Thorp, chairwoman of the School Committee, said the board plays no role in teacher transfers.
“It’s a contractual issue,” Thorp said. “We do not have a place in that decision.”
Superintendent Cyndy Taymore said state laws prevent her from discussing personnel matters. But she also noted the laws allow for both voluntary and involuntary transfers of personnel. “School systems have a right to transfer people as they see fit,” Taymore said.
The contract with the teachers union outlines the process that must be followed for teacher transfers, she said.
She said there are up to 12 teacher transfers planned across the district.
“Some are voluntary, some are involuntary,” Taymore said. “The contract allows for both. I am following the contract.”
Naomi Baline, president of the Melrose Education Association, did not respond to requests for comment.
At least one parent expressed surprise at Kimball Sherman’s transfer, and faulted the process.
“There is a total disregard for what parents have to say in any of this,” said Jack Reynolds, who has two children attending Roosevelt Elementary.
Reynolds questioned why a veteran teacher would be transferred in the wake of years of change at the school.“Why are they doing it to us? We have all these transitions going on,” he said.
Melrose lost seven administrators, including five principals, at the end of the 2012 school year.
Bohnke said she is frustrated that state education laws don’t give parents more of a voice in personnel decisions.
“The superintendent acted within the scope of the law,” Bohnke said. “I felt that in the spirit of what’s happening with Joanne’s departure, that the review for this process should afford the opportunity to provide . . . feedback from parents and students.”
Kathy McCabe can be reached at katherine.mccabe@ globe.com. Follow her on Twitter@GlobeKMcCabe.
Joanne is not just an excellent teacher. Melrose has quite a few. Joanne is extraordinary. She was a savior for two members of my family; one on the Autism Spectrum the other African American in a predominantly white city. Her transfer is a tragedy for the Roosevelt Elementary, a school which desperately needs to retain this stable constant especially at this time with so much change over. The question I'd like for the press to inquire is the true reason for Joanne's involuntary transfer. I find, in this instance, the needs of the system would be best served by reversing this decision for the good of the school system and the students Joanne so passionately, patiently and effectively teaches.
Even if JK-S is allowed to stay at Roosevelt, the damage to the school environment and morale of teachers, parents and students has been harmed. Hope the newly chosen Principal has good conflict resolution and trust building skills because she will need them regardless of what happens. Sad but true.
Parents oppose teacher's possible transfer from Roosevelt School
Numerous parents signed an online petition and attended a School Committee meeting to protest the possible transfer of a Roosevelt School teacher, Joanne Kimball-Sherman, to another school in the district.
Check out the petition
The petition can be viewed or signed at ipetitions.com/petition/keep-joanne-kimball-sherman-at-roosevelt.
By Jessica Sacco
Posted May. 23, 2014 @ 1:14 pm
Updated May 23, 2014 at 2:02 PM
A first-grade teacher will likely be transferred to a different school in the district next year, despite resistance from parents.
Superintendent Cyndy Taymore is expected to move Joanne Kimball-Sherman, an educator at the Roosevelt Elementary School for 18 years, to the Hoover Elementary School in September.
Parents and students voiced their opposition to Taymore's decision — which has not yet been finalized — during a School Committee meeting on May 13.
An online petition is also circulating to keep the teacher in place at the Roosevelt. As of press time, there were nearly 250 signatures and close to 75 comments. (The petition can be viewed at ipetitions.com/petition/keep-joanne-kimball-sherman-at-roosevelt.)
While the superintendent has remained relatively silent on the issue, explaining that state law prevents her from discussing personnel matters, she did confirm transfers are scheduled between the Hoover and Roosevelt schools.
"They're not the only transfers I've made in this district — not all are publicly known yet," Taymore said. "Some of the transfers were requested."
The superintendent noted that she has the right to move educators from one building to another under the teachers' contract.
Each year a number of teachers are voluntarily and involuntarily moved to a different building. There are also a number of non-renewals and retirements every year.
Kimball-Sherman could not be reached for comment.
RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT
During the public comment section of the School Committee meeting, several community members voiced their concerns about the possibility of Kimball-Sherman moving to the Hoover.
Roosevelt School parent Danielle Champoux Bohnke asked that a process be established to evaluate the impact on all stakeholders when decisions like these are made — to allow feedback and discussion.
"We are facing the devastating hardship of losing yet another teacher, an anchor, a seasoned professional, who is loved by many for [her] care, compassion, insight, innovation and dedication," Champoux Bohnke said.
Nicholas Lowe recognized that the city hired Taymore as the superintendent because the community trusts her judgment. However, he wanted to make sure she had a full picture of the "profound, positive impact" Kimball-Sherman has on the Roosevelt.
"We ask that you take into consideration our thoughts and we ask that you keep her at the Roosevelt with us, where we feel she belongs," he said.
Student Madelyn Strike had Kimball-Sherman as her teacher in 2007 — the same year her father died.
"I didn't know what to do," Strike recalled after her dad's death. "I kind of felt like I had lost my friend, but little did I know, I would be gaining a new one."
Kimball-Sherman reached out to the family to offer her help, and ended up driving the girl to school every day. Once in the first-grade teacher's classroom, Strike was able to forget about her pain and focus on something positive.
"I think we all can agree that when Roosevelt comes to mind, so does Ms. Sherman," Strike concluded. "Ms. Kimball-Sherman is not just a teacher we want, I believe she is a teacher we need."
REASONS BEHIND THE MOVE
Taymore told the families at the meeting that, under state law, she is not permitted to discuss personnel matters.
"I cannot even confirm anything you heard or may think you have heard," she said. "But I can talk in the abstract."
Under the teachers' contract, Taymore must try to notify an educator of any change to his or her assignment by the end of the school year.
The news does not become public until each building's staff directory is posted on their website, or when student/teacher assignments for the upcoming year are mailed home to parents. Both practices usually don't take place until August.
Taymore said that in situations of this nature, she often receives feedback for both sides of the argument.
"And my job, quite frankly, is to listen, to respond respectfully," she said. "But it's ultimately my decision to make under state regulations."
These decisions, she continued, are not made alone or arbitrarily.
When Taymore and her administrative team think about staffing, they factor in a number of different aspects: a teacher's strong suits and weaknesses, the needs and challenges of a school, and, above all, what's best for the children.
"We're moving pieces around so both our staff and our buildings can be more effective for our children," she said. "You may disagree with me, but we made the best decisions we felt we needed to make for the coming year."
"Her transfer is a tragedy for the Roosevelt Elementary, a school which desperately needs to retain this stable constant especially at this time with so much change over. The question I'd like for the press to inquire is the true reason for Joanne's involuntary transfer. I find, in this instance, the needs of the system would be best served by reversing this decision for the good of the school system and the students Joanne so passionately, patiently and effectively teaches". Well-stated. If JKS signs a release for the reason for involuntary transfer only, for public airing and clarity, we the people will be witness. 🙈🙉🙊
JK-S for President. Level the playing fields for students and teachers. You've got my vote. See how CT likes them apples.
You are right on the mark "damage". We are all distressed at how freely this super plays with our children's lives and futures. Shame on you Ms. Taymore. Wish we never hired you. Too vindictive and controlling without any regards for the children of Melrose.
Conway was promised the Brow job, if he stayed when every other elementary Principal left 2yrs.ago but him. Dolan, SC and Taymore planned for this and yet waited until it was too late for a permanent hire. Lincoln will now have an interim for next year and start the search for a permanent replacement. Look at all new/maternity hires in K, 1st and second grades..... Plus a new 4th and 5th grade teacher....all this change will be very stressful....and Horace Mann Head is waiting until she finishes her maternity leave to announce she is not returning..... So, HM will also have an interim and start searching for a new permanent principal, like Lincoln. So, 3 melrose elementary schools will have new principals and two will be interims come September. Brent taking over for Tommy is also a major change but don't worry, if any issues or problems come up be assured of an open, respectful and transparent accountability process from RD, CT and KT. The mismanagement is astounding! Voting No on the Override.
Please, would someone tell us, what exactly did this teacher at Roosevelt school do to put her in the sights of the Superintendent? Specifically, did she report wrong-doing by the Principal or one of the other Roosevelt teachers? I am confused. We need to know more than that she had complained about the principal. What is the back story here??
id like to know that too
We'd love to know if there has been any progress in this. It's such an obvious case of abuse of power, but with the total clamp-down on information (swathed in the "confidentiality" garbage this administration puts out there for everything, except when the real need for confidentiality for children is concerned, at which point they don't protect anything, just like the previous administration and even worse!). What in the dickens is happening, and why is that long-standing Hoover teacher being moved? (Would imagine it has something to do with the toxic atmosphere created by that awful principal there, who is another CT BFF no-nothing arrogant principal rookie). In any case, would love to know any updates. Worried about what our kids will face at Roosy.
I want to start a petition to ensure that CT follows through on the involuntary transfer of JKS to Hoover. It sounds like she is a fabulous teacher and we are the Hoover will be glad to have her.
She will be there in two weeks. My kids had Kimball Sherman at the Roosevelt. She was a great teacher and will be a great asset to the Roosevelt. Can't speak to the non-teaching issues that went on with her and the administration, but as was said in History of World, Part 1, "It's good to be the king" and just as teachers have rights and representation under their union contracts, administrators have some abilities as well... including the ability to transfer teachers if they would like. It called the real world. Sometimes it's difficult to swallow, but Kimball Sherman should be glad she is a teacher represented by a Union. In the professional world she simply would have been fired, legally, and it happens every day.
Why would anyone go into teaching ? The way the MPS are run is disheartening. Thank God my kids are out of the Melrose Public Schools and chose not to study Education in college. I will vote No on any attempt to raise taxes.
OMG. PEOPLE! Your only seeing the good side of her if you only knew how much she yelled at your children and acted nice when all of you were around , you would be having her fired!! I can say this because I work there for many years!!!! You didn't END OF STORY.. I am glad she is leaving she was fake and the ring leader of that circus over there...
Again, thank you Karma for your own efforts to improve the Melrose schools...by quitting!
Karma pay no mind to the previous thug poster. Thank you for your service and I hope you have another job lined up.