We were disappointed this week to learn of the growing tempest surrounding Mashpee superintendent of school designate Dr. Steven Hiersche.
Concern surrounds the school district’s handling of two alleged sexual assault that occurred at Framingham High School while Hiersche was superintendent there. The latest twist in the Framingham case was when it was reported by the MetroWest Daily News that the federal Office of Civil Rights may take up an investigation into the matter.
With that information in hand, the Mashpee School Committee – which has not yet signed a contract with Hiersche – is “looking for advice from counsel” according to a quote by chairman Jose Franco reported by capenews.net last week. Dr. Hiersche met with the school board in executive session Wednesday night. Franco says the school committee will meet again this week to further consider the matter.
Who Knew What, When?
The first reaction of many people was, “Why didn’t the school committee know about this potential skeleton in Hiersche’s closet?” Many feel the committee did not properly vet this candidate.
While some suspect ulterior motives by the group partisan to Mashpee High School teacher Brian Hyde, whom two of the five school committee members wished to hire as superintendent, we consider another alternative: the school committee fumbled the ball yet again.
This, we remember, is the school committee that “blew off” a site visit to Tewksbury, causing Dr. Patricia Lally to withdraw her candidacy for superintendent.
This is also the school committee that was faced down by hostile Wampanoag voters when it was considering Mr. Hyde’s candidacy. According to op-ed’s and blogs appearing on Cape Cod Today, the Wampanoag nation has grave concerns over Mr. Hyde’s ability to work and play well with minorities in town, most especially Native Americans.
We don’t know about the racist angle, but we believe Hyde is historically under-qualified to be superintendent of any school district, let alone a troubled district like Mashpee.
Last week someone said it was a matter of “What Dr. Hiersche knew and when” on the Framingham incident. We ask “What did the Mashpee School Committee know about Framingham and when?”
If Hiersche Gets the Hook…
We’re not sure that Hiersche’s Framingham “baggage” should stop Mashpee from hiring him. He comes from a background of strong academics – and if ever there was a Cape Cod school district that needs help on academics it is Mashpee. Framingham is a big school district, Hiersche was distant from the incident and the alleged incident has been considered by many authorities and not pursued thus far.
If the Board decides it is “unable to negotiate a contract” with Dr. Hiersche, we urge them to start the superintendent search from scratch.
Brian Hyde is too compromised and too inexperienced to lead a school district. He apparently has serious problems with the Wampanoags. His hiring will likely force the tribe into forming its own charter school or a Bureau of Indian Affairs tribal school. Should either of those two institutions form, the damage to school districts will extend far beyond Mashpee as Native Americans from around southeastern Massachusetts flock to the new school. We also note that, as the tribal casino advances, it’s likely that more Wampanoag families will return to make a life in Mashpee.
If Hyde were to be appointed at this point, there’s a strong chance that recall petitions will be filed against certain school committee members – a distraction the Mashpee schools do not need right now.
We don’t know if the other finalist, Dr. Elise Frangos of Old Rochester, is still available – or she’d even consider working in Mashpee at this point.
The best thing for Mashpee to do is hire an interim superintendent and start the search from scratch.