Amherst school committee member discusses upcoming year amid several recent resignations

A fifth school district employee in Amherst has resigned in just over a week.
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 2:35 PM EDT
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AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A fifth school district employee in Amherst has resigned in just over a week. School Committee member Irv Rhodes told us that, despite a feeling of unease in the community, it will not impact the students and teachers heading back to school on Wednesday.

“The public needs to know that we will continue to provide the best education possible for our students in an environment that they can learn and grow,” said Rhodes.

Wednesday marks the start of a new school year for the Amherst Regional School District, despite five resignations in the district in the past two

“The schools will operate as usual. Kids will get on the bus tomorrow morning. Teachers will be in the classroom,” Rhodes added. “The absence of a superintendent will not prevent that from going on.”

The district has grappled with much controversy over the past year including a Title IX investigation into gender identity discrimination claims, which led to three middle school teachers place on paid leave. In addition, four school committee members resigned this month and the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Michael Morris, whose last day will be August 31.

A meeting was held Monday night with the town council and remaining school committee members to decide how they should operate as they do not have enough people on the committee to formally meet and take action.

“The meeting was discussing the process for filling these positions, the way it would be advertised, and then how the possible questions will be gathered,” Rhodes explained

The committee is expected to draft and approve a list of interview questions, which will be discussed next Monday in a meeting with the town council. Meanwhile, Rhodes told us that ongoing conversations are still happening with the chairs and vice chairs to replace Morris.

“The four of us are involved in conversations in terms of replacing the superintendent with an interim or acting superintendent. We hope to complete that process by the end of the month,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes also provided an update on where things stand for the Title IX investigation.

“The school committee has not formally received that. We do know that some parts have been completed. What those parts are, we are not privy to because of procedure and legality. We are hopeful that sometime next week, we will have the full report in our hands,” Rhodes added.

All four school committee vacancies are expected to be filled by early October.