The latest candidate offered the role to lead Easthampton schools withdrew her candidacy just days after being selected for the job.
The Easthampton School Committee voted 5-1, with one abstention, to hire Erica Faginski-Stark as superintendent on April 10 after their first pick, Vito Perrone, said his offer was rescinded for addressing his future colleagues as “ladies” in a negotiation e-mail. But the committee will once again need to determine how to move forward after Faginski-Stark has now pulled out of the job.
“Dr. Faginski Stark has withdrawn her name as superintendent candidate,” School Committee chair Cynthia Kwiecinski said in an e-mail sent to families on Friday.
Kwiecinski said the School Committee will discuss next steps at its next meeting on April 25.
Faginski-Stark withdrew after students raised concerns about her in a letter to Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. LaChapelle did not say what exactly the concerns were, the Gazette reported, but she responded to the letter, told students she would look into the matter, and contacted Kwiecinski about it. The mayor’s office did not immediately respond Monday to a Boston Globe request for the student letter.
Faginski-Stark and the School Committee were expected to discuss negotiations last Friday but the meeting was scrapped after Faginski-Stark withdrew her candidacy, according to the Gazette.
LaChapelle and Kwiecinski did not return an e-mail or call for comment on Monday; city offices were closed in observation of Patriots Day. Faginski-Stark, who is currently the director of curriculum and instruction at Ludlow Public Schools, also did not respond to an e-mail request for comment; an automated reply said she would be out of the office until April 24.
Faginski-Stark was one of three finalists for the superintendent position before Perrone was selected in March. Dozens of community members spoke at the April 10 School Committee meeting, most advocating that the committee reinstate Perrone’s offer and calling for more transparency in the process.
The Easthampton superintendent search gained national attention after Perrone claimed his offer was rescinded for referring to Kwiecinski and Suzanne Colby, the committee’s executive assistant, as “ladies” in a contract negotiation e-mail. Perrone said Kwiecinski later told him that addressing both women as ladies was a “microaggression” and “the fact that he didn’t know that as an educator was a problem.” Kwiecinski recently told the Gazette that while she was insulted by how Perrone addressed her and Colby in the e-mail, there were other factors in the decision.
His supporters held a rally April 3 and created a petition on Change.org pushing to recall all sitting members of the School Committee, which has garnered over 1,100 signatures. (One committee member, Shannon Dunham, already has resigned, citing health reasons in a public Facebook post on Saturday. Dunham voted to reenter negotiations with Perrone and voted in opposition of Faginski-Stark.)
Several residents have supported the committee’s decision to rescind Perrone’s offer, and told members during the meeting on April 10 they had always had reservations about Perrone and that he was to blame for setting off the controversy by going to the press.
Perrone, who is the interim superintendent of West Springfield Public Schools, told the Globe on Monday that if another offer were to come his way, he would “love to move forward in a positive way.” But he has not received any other communication from the School Committee since being told his offer was rescinded, he said.
“The response of the community has been so, so, compassionately in support of me,” Perrone said. “It makes me think, why wouldn’t I want to work with that community, with those students, with those teachers? But unfortunately, the issue isn’t with them, it’s with the School Committee and the ball is certainly in their hands now.”