McKersie says Sherr emails were a mistake

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

It is common for school superintendents and school boards to have creative tension and constructive disagreements. Such is the path to highly effective policy, procedures and eventually professional practice.

It is not appropriate, however, for superintendents to confront board members in ways that diminish their governance responsibility. Similarly, it is not appropriate for superintendents to limit the range of board member inquiries that are intended to help guide legitimate governance oversight.

In mid-August, I made the mistake of responding to email inquiries from Peter Sherr in a fashion that diminished his governance authority and his right to seek information necessary to his role as a board member. Making matters worse, I copied top administrators on my responses to Mr. Sherr. The better approach, which has been the practice throughout my career, would have been to call to discuss the best way to proceed in answering the questions.

In late August, at my own volition, I announced to a group of top administrators that my emails to Mr. Sherr were a mistake. I stressed that they are not the type or tone of interaction that will be tolerated in the Greenwich Public Schools.

To underscore the point, I told the group that I had been verbally reprimanded by Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarity for the emails. I advised the administrators that as Greenwich Public School leaders we must use email for factual and positive matters. Beyond that, we must have a conversation, either in person or by phone.

Over the past two weeks, the emails I sent to Mr. Sherr became public via columns in the Greenwich Post and Greenwich Time. As a result, I want to make sure that all Greenwich residents know that I consider the emails a mistake. This was an action that will not be repeated and one that is certainly atypical of my professional record.

Greenwich should know that as superintendent I will own up to my mistakes, which has to be the hallmark of anyone who works for the school district. I look forward to open and honest conversations about moving our schools and students to ever higher levels of excellence.

 

William McKersie
Greenwich

 

The author is the superintendent of the Greenwich Public Schools.

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