I am pleased to see the all-Island school committee is preparing to tackle the daunting and time-consuming task of evaluating the superintendent of schools, Dr. Matthew D’Andrea.

As the committee decides which rubrics they will use to evaluate him, it is my hope that time is taken to look independently at each of our Island’s respective schools. I implore the committee to look at the schools through the eyes of the state report card, otherwise known as the official accountability report. Take the time to ask around and get feedback from your constituents. How do the town leaderships feel? Is there community involvement? Has there been buy-in from parents on major changes to a school’s schedule? Do parents feel welcome? Does Dr. D’Andrea allow space and a place to go for parents to speak their truth and be heard? What about the morale of students, teachers and staff at each school. Has Dr. D’Andrea evaluated his own work? How does he collect data to prove his self-evaluation? I would also ask for his job description, the one for the assistant superintendent and those of all the principals, which will give you important information and insight in the evaluation.

Personally, I am extremely concerned with the official accountability report for the high school, specifically over the past three years. Recognizing that school committees cannot involve themselves in the day-to-day issues of a school and acknowledging that they are only responsible for the budget and policy, I believe evaluating the superintendent is the one way the all-Island committee and individual school committees on the Island can address the performance issues of their respective schools.

Did you know that 39 students in three years have dropped out of high school? Let that sink in. One student dropping out is a failure, 39 students dropping out in three years is a tragedy. I consider it an educational catastrophe, and a massive failure of the leadership team at the high school and superintendent. Did you know that our high school’s overall classification by the state is “requiring assistance or intervention”?

There has been a tradition of asking for community involvement when hiring certain positions at the high school, but this practice appears to be slowly fading away. This may seem insignificant to some, but I am reminded we are a public school which requires buy-in from our communities. And at the moment there seems to be little buy-in from parents and the community.

I ask the all-Island school committee to take time in deciding which rubrics to use in evaluating Dr. D’Andrea, and to keep in mind the entire educational community, especially the regional high school. It is the job of the high school to educate all students who come through its doors. It is a public comprehensive high school. It is my hope that real change can occur at the high school, and it begins with a real and true evaluation of the superintendent.

Janet Packer

Vineyard Haven.

The writer was a Tisbury school and regional high school committee member from 2011-2020.