Getting Answers: appointment of interim Amherst-Pelham school superintendent

Published: May. 19, 2023 at 3:15 PM EDT
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AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Amherst regional school district has named a new acting superintendent. The district’s finance director, Douglas Slaughter, will fill in for the job.

“Last night, we met and everyone got a chance to talk about which candidate they felt was the strongest. It was a 7-2 vote in favor of Doug Slaughter, our finance director,” said Ben Herrington, chair of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee.

The Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in the spotlight again as the district has named Slaughter the district’s new acting superintendent after allegations of LGBTQ+ discrimination, a Title IX investigation, and Superintendent Dr. Michael Morris stepping down due to health concerns.

“This has been tough for everybody. Every aspect of this has been tough for everyone and I hope we can kind of get back to a sense of normalcy now,” Herrington added.

Herrington told Western Mass News why it is an important to name an acting superintendent as soon as possible.

“We need continuity right now. We don’t need to take a whole bunch of time to wait for somebody up to speed and he’s very familiar to everyone. He’s well liked and respected throughout the district. That was very important to us,” Herrington said.

The decision on Thursday comes as several community members expressed concerns publicly that the process was moving too fast.

“How on earth can we choose a superintendent, even if it’s just for five days, that we have not met?” said Amherst teacher and parent Amy Kalman.

On Friday, Herrington addressed those concerns and said that a superintendent is the only person who can sign off on specific situations.

“I definitely understand that because if I were on the outside looking in, I would have the exact same opinion that this moving way too fast, etc. The problem is that I’m also here in the buildings during the day and I understand that it’s absolutely dangerous to not have a superintendent,” Herrington said.

He also told us that pending final contract negotiations, Slaughter’s term will end September 30 or until Morris returns, but for now, he said having a temporary one in place is what is best for the district.

“Just having a superintendent today, as soon as he walked in the building, there was more of a sense of calm,” Herrington noted.

We did reach out to the Amherst-Pelham Education Association to find out how they felt about the decision, but have not yet heard back.