You can read the school committee's PE of Taymore at the following link - beginning on page 95:
Amazing how many of them totally ignored the terrible OCR findings and decisions which occurred this past year. And those who even bothered to discuss it made only passing or brief mention of it noting how well she was working with the OCR! These incidents are a disgrace to our school system and they still rate her performance as exemplary or proficient?
One of the members mentioned they attended a workshop which included cultural diversity but failed to mention that the workshop included examples of how schools should deal with cultural and diversity issues - and then using the Melrose school system as an example of what not to do. Talk about dishonesty. The school committee members should be ashamed of themselves - Ed, Liz, Jamie, Jessica - where are your morals and commitment to make our schools better? You have failed us!
CKK can look herself in the mirror and be proud. She can look anyone in the eye and not be ashamed of selling her soul. She probably sleeps well, too.
Whereas, Ed, Jamie, Liz, and Jessica will not be able to look you in the eye - because of their dishonesty!
On Oct. 15, 2015, the Melrose Free Press published a letter to the editor that I wrote to them, as an article entitled “Evaluations of superintendent were lacking.” In that letter I expressed concerns about the Melrose School Committee members’ annual evaluation of Superintendent Cyndy Taymore.
I found that, with the exception of then-School Committee Member Carrie Kourkoumelis, the members’ evaluations of Taymore were largely superficial and uniformly shocking in their failure to even mention the very real, systemic issues that have plagued the Melrose school system during Ms. Taymore’s tenure.
In particular, no School Committee Member other than Ms. Kourkoumelis mentioned, in their evaluation of Superintendent Taymore:
· The decline in college matriculation rates. As Ms. Kourkoumelis pointed out in her evaluation, in 2005-06, 95.9 percent of Melrose High School graduates attended either 4-year or 2-year colleges. By 2013-14 that number had plummeted to 88.3 percent. And while the number of students attending college overall is declining, the number attending 2-year schools has increased dramatically. In 2005 just 11.4 percent of students attending college were attending 2-year schools; by 2009 that number almost doubled to 21 percent.
· The decline of the Horace Mann Elementary School to MCAS Level 3 status (Horace Mann has recently been elevated to Level 2, but it is not clear why that happened. Although the School District issued a press release lauding its efforts to elevate the school, the press release acknowledges that, in a letter to Superintendent Taymore, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (the “DOE”) explained that Horace Mann was elevated to Level 2 because the DOE “received an appeal from another district on behalf of its Level 3 focus school that led us to reexamine and revise our focus school exit criteria.” I suspect that the press release is purposely vague. At any rate, it is not clear to me whether the School District did anything at all to contribute to the elevation of Horace Mann.) Because the MCAS assigns districts the level of their lowest performing school, for the period during which Horace Mann was a Level 3 School, Melrose was a Level 3 district (along with area schools including Chelsea, Malden and Everett; Stoneham and Wakefield were then and are now Level 2 districts).
· SAT and ACT scores that, as Ms. Kourkoumelis put it in her evaluation, “are below or near the state mean, which is inconsistent with our community demographics.”
Most shockingly, no School Committee member other than Ms. Kourkoumelis mentioned in their evaluation what Kourkoumelis referred to as the “multiple investigations currently undertaken by the United States Office for Civil Rights.” Given what we know now about those investigations (particularly the incident concerning a racist remark made to a student by a teacher, which the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determined violated the student’s civil rights), that bears repeating, with emphasis: no School Committee Member other than Ms. Kourkoumelis even mentioned in their evaluation of Superintendent Taymore the fact that two separate OCR investigations were pending against the Melrose school system, even though there is absolutely no doubt that they all knew about the investigations.
Given my view that Ms. Kourkoumelis was the only Member of the School Committee to take the time to submit a thoughtful, substantive evaluation of Superintendent Taymore, I was devastated to learn of her resignation from the School Committee. Devastated, but not surprised. I read enough in the newspapers and watched enough School Committee meetings to know that the other School Committee members routinely marginalized and even bullied Ms. Kourkoumelis for her attempts to hold Ms. Taymore and her administration accountable for the decline of the school system.
In my letter I also lamented, in Ms. Kourkoumelis’ words, that the “fact that so many in our administration do not admit that we are doing poorly prevents us from being able to contemplate the real changes that could actually benefit students and lead to improvements” and shared my own experience with that unfortunate reality. And that, really, is the crux of the matter. It is one thing to fail – everyone does from time to time – but it is quite another to refuse to admit failure, particularly when that refusal will obstruct any attempts to correct the problem. This administration’s chronic refusal to admit failure and propensity to deflect and obfuscate have hastened the decline of the school system. And the School Committee has aided and abetted the administration by not holding it and Superintendent Taymore accountable. As Ms. Kourkoumelis put it in announcing her resignation, “the self-congratulatory culture of this School Committee perpetuates harm, shields those responsible, and impedes necessary change.”
Which brings me to the letter published in the Free Press on March 24, from Christina and Gabe Gagliano and others which purports to be a call for the community to come together in “the midst of the real challenges facing Melrose and our public schools.” In reality, it is an admonition to anyone who dares speak out against the Superintendent or the school system. A few observations:
· The authors state that a “vocal handful of residents have been calling for the superintendent to resign.” It is a common tactic in attempting to suppress dissent to minimize the number of dissenters – Richard Nixon famously used this tactic when he spoke of the “Silent Majority” in comparison to the alleged vocal minority. In my experience – and I have had many, many dozens of conversations with parents whose children attend or attended the Melrose school system – there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Although not all of the dissatisfied parents are calling for the superintendent to resign, many of them (more than 500 families) are voting with their feet by sending their children out of the district. And please remember authors, as you attempt to diminish and marginalize those who hold views that differ from your own, that it is much, much easier for you to speak out in favor of the administration than it is for people to speak out against it.
· The authors attempt to shame people who are speaking out against Superintendent Taymore and the school system by touting the authors’ own alleged “informed and productive” contributions to the school system. The implication that critics’ contributions are somehow not “informed and productive” is not only unbelievably insulting but also incredibly counterproductive.
Someone (not Thomas Jefferson, though the quote is widely attributed to him), once said, “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” And in the words of Howard Zinn, “one of the great mistakes made in discussing patriotism – a very common mistake – is to think that patriotism means support for your government. ... bedience to government certainly is not a form of patriotism.” Albert Einstein said that, “blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” Authors, blind allegiance to Superintendent Taymore and the school system will get us nowhere. It is abundantly clear that Superintendent Taymore and her administration will never admit their mistakes and therefore never learn from them. So it is imperative that others take them to task whenever necessary and your suggestions to the contrary are truly disheartening.
· The authors devote the majority of their letter to a lengthy recitation of Ms. Taymore’s “accomplishments,” including “new principals at nearly every school in the district.” I do not purport to be an educator, but it is incomprehensible to me that any competent educator would view the seemingly constant turnover at the highest levels of the administration, including at the principal level, to be anything close to an “accomplishment.”
· Finally, in a truly impressive use of the passive, the authors note that “our community continues to process the aftermath of a racial discrimination incident at the middle school and the subsequent investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.” The wording implies that the community (and perhaps by extension Superintendent Taymore and the administration) are somehow the victims here. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least as to Superintendent Taymore and the administration.
I invite the authors to read the OCR’s findings, if they have not already done so. I did. Here’s what I learned, and what the authors fail to mention: in addition to finding that the teacher who made racist remarks violated the student’s civil rights, the OCR also found that the School District’s inadequate response to the incident and failure to protect the student in the aftermath of the incident further violated the student’s civil rights. The OCR criticized the school district’s insufficient response to the “hostile environment experienced by the student in terms of investigating the matter, and eliminating and remedying the effects of the hostile environment on the student and other potentially affected students.” The OCR also found that the District “had actual notice of racial harassment; the harassment created a racially hostile environment for the student; and the district failed to take adequate action to address that environment.”
I encourage anyone interested in this issue to read the OCR’s findings, which summarize the many ways the School District failed this student, and by extension, all of our students. Suffice it to say, the school district did absolutely everything wrong, and we will likely be paying for that for years to come. That falls squarely on Superintendent Taymore’s shoulders.
The authors end their letter with a plea for “productive action,” again implying that what they choose to do is productive and what others choose to do is not. They call for the “elimination of unsubstantiated claims” and for people who are critical of the Superintendent to “get informed,” again implying that they are informed and anyone who is critical of the superintendent is not. They call for “less vitriol;” but the real vitriol is their unbelievably arrogant position that they know what is best for Melrose and the rest of us should just shut our mouths and let them lead us. Apparently, freedom of speech has been suspended in Melrose.
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” may work for monkeys; not so much for a school system or a community. As far as I know, for now, at least, we still live in America. So I’ll take Benjamin Franklin’s view over those of the authors: “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” I therefore must respectfully decline the authors’ invitation to keep silent in the face of the ongoing turmoil in the school system. I join Ms. Kourkoumelis (and the “vocal handful of residents”) in calling for the immediate resignation of Superintendent Taymore and I also call for the resignation of all of the School Committee members who have turned a blind eye to the systemic issues the school system continues to face. You all are as much to blame for the current state of affairs as is the superintendent. In calling for these resignations I fully acknowledge that the school system has made some gains lately, including last year’s PARCC scores, which are far superior to historic MCAS scores. But that is too little too late and does not excuse the superintendent’s behavior during her tenure, particularly her handling of the OCR debacle.
As for the three new School Committee Members, I call on you to remember your campaign promises to “share the outrage” and “speak truth to power.” Remember that, as Gandhi said, “silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
I will undoubtedly be labeled by many as a “Melrose-hater,” a label that is apparently indiscriminately applied to anyone here in Melrose who dares to question anything about the school system or local government. But I am speaking out in the hope (perhaps misplaced) that the community can still come together to effectively advocate for change in the school system. James Baldwin said it best: “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
There is much, much more I could say, but I’ll let George Carlin have the last word on the subject: “I do this real [stupid] thing and it’s called thinking. And apparently I’m not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions.”
Finally, I owe Ms. Kourkoumelis a huge apology. Although I greatly admired and appreciated the work you did on the School Committee I did not do nearly enough to support you. I never reached out to thank you, never showed up at a School Committee meeting to protest the other School Committee Members’ shameful treatment of you and never even wrote a letter to the other School Committee members in support of you (the authors were right about that much, at least; I did not get as involved as I should have). I was wrong to stay silent for so long and so, in some sense, I bear the blame for the state of the Melrose Public School system as much as do the superintendent and your former colleagues. And for that I am truly sorry.
— Colleen Murphy, Larchmont Road
Melrose Weekly News
March 11 ·
By DAN TOMASELLO
In a surprising turn of events, School Committee member Carrie Kourkoumelis resigned from the school board on Tuesday night. Kourkoumelis also called for the resignation of Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore.
Kourkoumelis was first elected to the School Committee in 2010 and was re-elected two years ago.
Kourkoumelis provided the following statement to the Melrose Weekly News about her decision.
“To the citizens of Melrose and members of the Melrose School Committee:
“In January 2016, the U.S. Office of Civil Rights published the finding that our school district violated its Title VI responsibilities. After receiving notice of a civil rights incident in April 2014, Superintendent Taymore was responsible for complying with our district’s Title VI obligations. Instead, OCR found that ‘the district had actual notice of racial harassment; the harassment created a racially hostile environment for the student; and, the District failed to take adequate action to redress that environment.’
And this is why a better search process (that screens for these kinds of sycophants) has to be developed:
"Eric Heath, who served on the Superintendent Search Committee, spoke in favor of Taymore, saying, "She has exhibited a breadth of experience, a vision on instructional leadership, executive abilities as an administrator, candor and substance and tact, and passions as a teacher—all needed in Melrose."
"candor"..."tact" Two things that define what this disaster of an administrator has no use for whatsoever! So much tact towards the METCO families when she promoted a teacher to the high school who told her only black 8th grade history student to "go back to the plantation"! So much candor when she told the public about all the lawsuits, including federal findings of violations of the United States Constitution, against our district because of her "executive abilities"! Yeah, right on, Eric!
[Dolan] "also cited her holding students and staff members alike accountable for results..." Yeah, right! What was he smoking?
"Malden and the Bedford superintendent both gave positive reviews"...He obviously didn't talk to any of the ones we know!
"Over first three years, I think Cyndy Taymore is going to bring us further any more than any of the other candidates," Constantine said.... Oh she certainly did that! Straight down the tubes!
Taymore Selected As Next Melrose Superintendent
Pending contract negotiations, Cyndy Taymore will become the next superintendent of Melrose Public Schools after a School Committee vote Thursday night.
By Daniel DeMaina (Patch Staff) - March 30, 2012 3:09 pm ET
updated on Friday at 11:08 a.m.
Taymore is currently the assistant superintendent with Bedford Public Schools, retaining oversight of special education. She holds a bachelor's degree from American University, a master's degree from Emerson, graduate work at Salem State, and certificate for post graduate work at UMass Boston.
Out of the five finalists, Taymore was one of three who consistently came up as the School Committee discussed who should become the next leader of the city's schools, along with and .
The committee voted 6-1 for Taymore in a roll call vote, with committee member Carrie Kourkoumelis voting for Kelleher. Following the roll call vote, the committee unanimously selected Taymore as the next superintendent, pending contract negotiations that began immediately after the meeting in executive session. ...
Breadth and Depth of Experience Cited
In selecting Taymore, committee members noted her breadth and depth of experience as a teacher, School Committee member, special education advocate and director, and director of an alternative education program in East Boston.
Committee member Don Lehman spoke about Taymore's curriculum experience in Bedford and career path includes work in Malden, Boston and Bedford schools.
"She has great life experience and depth experience," Lehman said. "I was impressed with the way she came across, communicated, and responded."
Committee member Margaret Driscoll recalled Taymore's answer to a member of the public who asked about her career bucket list and what she wants to achieve before retiring. Taymore had responded, "There's only one thing—I'd like the community to say to me, 'You've made a difference in our kids' lives.'" Driscoll also read from the Harvard Business Review ten critera for successful executives, which she said align with what the community is looking for in a new superintendent.
"Based on the application, meet and greets, School Committee and observations of our broad group of stakeholders ... I believe that Cyndy Taymore embodies these (criteria) in the most consistent way," she said.
With regard to pace of change, committee member Don Constantine said that he believed Taymore would make more an immediate impact on the district.
"Over first three years, I think Cyndy Taymore is going to bring us further any more than any of the other candidates," Constantine said, adding "Taymore was the candidate in the eyes of everyone (in the public) who submitted emails (to the committee)."
Committee Chairwoman Kristin Thorp also said that out of all the feedback the committee received on the candidates, "nearly everyone" who listed their top candidates had Taymore as the first or second choice."I really think the difference was that Ms. Taymore has more proven track record, more experience and feel like that’s a better fit for Melrose at this particular moment," Thorp said.
Mayor Rob Dolan said that Taymore has "incredible depth" in her experience, working with troubled children in East Boston who may have "shocking" home lives, which he said speaks to her "character and passion." He also cited her holding students and staff members alike accountable for results, and said that representatives from Malden and the Bedford superintendent both gave positive reviews, adding that Melrose's diversity from upper class to working class matches the depth of her background.
"Melrose in many ways is a combination of all her experience," Dolan said.
Committee member Christine Casatelli noted Bedford is only one of three school districts in the state where students are using iPads, a one-on-one computing direction that she said she personally believes Melrose High School should pursue. She also noted her experience in special education, gifted and talent programs and on a School Committee, while noting that Taymore was the only finalist without a doctorate, which .
"Some people may not support her because she does not have 'PhD' after her name, but she has more than earned her stripes in Boston and in Malden, two extremely challenging school districts," Casatelli said. "I like Cyndy Taymore's vision for Melrose, I like her passion, I like her experience, I like her style, and I would like her to be the next Superintendent of Melrose Public Schools."
Kelleher, Rodriguez Also Lauded as Candidates
Committee member Carrie Kourkoumelis endorsed Kelleher in her remarks, citing his "stellar credentials" from his academic background to his 10 years in Scituate during trying economic times, during which he advocated for and won an override. She also cited his answers to "explicit questions" about the challenges facing Melrose schools, his proactive approach, communication skills and "outstanding" work ethic."
"In short he sets a perfect example. This man has the ability to inspire as a compelling leader of our district," Kourkoumelis said. "Dr. Kelleher cares. He very much wants to come to Melrose. He has proven himself to be a dedicated and accomplished administrator."
All of the committe members spoke highly of the quality of superintendent finalists, with most also citing Kelleher and Rodriguez as impressive candidates at the top of their list.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident and School Committee stalwart Gerry Mroz cited Kelleher and Rodriguez as his top two candidates.
"If we can’t have (Rodriguez), Kelleher's most a match for what we can use in our district to go from the plateau we’re at today to the next plateau up," Mroz said. "All five (candidates), if we had a million dollars, we could find a place for in our district because they all have strengths we could use in our district."
Eric Heath, who served on the Superintendent Search Committee, spoke in favor of Taymore, saying, "She has exhibited a breadth of experience, a vision on instructional leadership, executive abilities as an administrator, candor and substance and tact, and passions as a teacher—all needed in Melrose.
"The selection of one (candidate) as superintendent will not disparage the others in the least," Heath also said.
The School Committee previously set a target date of April 3 to have a signed contract with the new superintendent, who will replace the starting July 1.
So much "candor" and "executive skills" from this top boss and her employers, the Melrose School Committee. So much respect shown to the law, to the taxpayers/citizens, to the students, to the teachers and staff, to common decency.... A comprehensive disgrace!
"Taymore did not return a call from the Globe seeking comment. Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan, who is a member of the School Committee, declined to comment."
Boston Globe: Melrose student found to be harassed based on race
By Brenda J. Buote Globe Correspondent September 03, 2015
The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has determined a Melrose Memorial Middle School student “had been subjected to harassment based on race” during the spring of 2014, according to a statement by the school district’s superintendent.
A complaint was filed with the Office for Civil Rights in the fall of 2014. In a letter sent to Melrose Superintendent Cyndy S. Taymore on Nov. 24, 2014, Allen L. Kropp, an attorney for the Office for Civil Rights, wrote “Specifically, the complaint alleges that in the 2013-14 school year, a middle school teacher made derogatory remarks to one of her assigned students, directed at the student’s race. The complainants also reported that the District has failed to adequately respond to reports and/or complaints about the remarks. They maintain that the lack of response continues to subject students to a racially hostile environment.”
The district — which hosts minority students from outside the city as part of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, or Metco program — recently received verbal notification of the Office for Civil Rights’ finding that the incident had occurred, according to a statement released by Taymore. Federal officials have not provided any written notification or details regarding its determination, according to her statement.
“Recently, verbal notification was received that [the Office for Civil Rights] has determined that the school district was found to be in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Taymore wrote in the statement. “OCR additionally informed the Melrose Public Schools of its intent to enter into a dialogue with the school district to resolve this matter. At this point, OCR has not provided any written notification or details regarding its determination.”
The Title VI law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance, including schools.
Taymore did not return a call from the Globe seeking comment. Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan, who is a member of the School Committee, declined to comment.
Carrie Kourkoumelis, a member of the Melrose School Committee, said the teacher who is the subject of the investigation has retired.
“Many resources have been expended to cloak the Melrose School Committee’s and administration’s actions in secrecy,” said Kourkoumelis.
Kourkoumelis has been pressing Taymore for more information about the investigation and legal fees incurred by the district. In March, the superintendent denied Kourkoumelis’ public records request, citing attorney-client privilege and the state’s deliberative process exemption. Kourkoumelis appealed to Secretary of State William F. Galvin.
“I should not be denied access to those records,” Kourkoumelis said. “As a member of the School Committee, I am the client. The School Committee signs the warrants to pay the legal bills.”
On July 8, the state’s supervisor of public records ordered the district to produce the requested records within 10 days or provide a detailed explanation of the legal reasons for withholding the information. In a written response dated July 29, Taymore estimated that the labor costs for the search would total $7,638.75. That estimate did not include the cost of reproducing any records....
Thanks for the summary and the history - Ed, Jamie, Liz, and Jessica should read this history - but they probably won't - if ignorance is bliss - they all certainly living in ecstasy - bad for the school system - worse for the kids!
They all knew exactly what these condemning facts are and were. That's what makes this SC so much worse. They knowingly look the other way and engage in the self-congratulatory BS instead. There is nothing innocent in their actions. They've chosen to be ignorant and arrogant and violate their oaths of office. They manipulated that outrageous "award" in March in response to CKK's calling them out and demanding CT's resignation. They openly give us all the finger. They are really that crude, that unethical, that contemptuous, every last one of them, including their very own bobblehead, who is no where near as sweet and innocent as she'd like us all to believe (she is every bit as bad as the worst of them, MD & RD). CC has been a fake for all the 15 years she's been on there (shame on her). JD is a clone of MD. EOC is a felon. LD is every bit the charlatan she appears, regardless of how many times she proclaims herself "a true scientist"; that's about as true as RD's proclamation of himself as an "education expert"! Cannot make up stuff this ridiculous!
The school committee members feel they are shielded from responsibility. They rely on Ms. "Taking Tokes in Melrose" to screen out all the negative "artifacts" so that CT can get her super-duper rating every year. It is pretty alarming that a lone, crazed School Committee Chair is enabled by the School Committee NORMS to the point of preventing sitting SC members from even viewing the most critical information about the performance of our schools and superintendent. But then again, this is Melrose, where Democracy and transparency are dying a slow death. [:-|]
This is not good news. School Committee Chair is enabled by the School Committee NORMS to the point of preventing sitting SC members from even viewing the most critical information about the performance of our schools and superintenden.
"A City Wide attendee noted that a dearth of new teachers is expected in the coming years. The Supt. acknowledged that, indicating that she has partnered with four colleges (Salem State, UMass Boston, Gordon, and Mass. College of Art) in part so that interns will be placed in Melrose. She hopes that it will help graduates “think of us first,” and it also allows us to “have a say in how teachers are prepared.” Regarding open MHS positions, if Principal Farrell is appointed to the Director of Finance position, she will post for that spot as it is a contractual obligation."
Heaven help students in Melrose! "think of us first" indeed!