George ClementClement

UPDATED May 12: In a development capping two weeks of drama in next-door Lexington, the beleaguered superintendent-director of the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District, Kathleen Dawson, has been put on administrative leave by that district's school committee, pending an independent investigation.

Some 200 students at that district's high school live in Arlington.

This situation first came to widespread public light when, backing up their ongoing online petition, more than 100 students walked out at Minuteman High School Monday morning May 8, as documented by an aerial television crew. The intent was to reinforce their demand to the administration to “Save Mr. Clement” -- the school's much-admired principal.

But turmoil at the district goes even deeper than Clement's fate, with online petitions garnering many hundreds of signatures, a recent faculty union vote of no confidence in Dawson and a closed-door session of the School Committee held Thursday, May 11, concerning the superintendent. An email about Dawson's on-leave status was sent to Minuteman parents late Friday afternoon, May 12, and was later obtained by YourArlington.

George Clement, at Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School since 2009 and its principal since 2020, faces the end of his three-year contract in June, and it has not been renewed. According to a recent automatic-reply email received by YourArington, Clement is not currently on campus; the email refers questions to the assistant principal.

The May 11 School Committee agenda as posted online shows that committee members planned to discuss the future of Superintendent Kathleen Dawson, who is believed to have refused to extend Clement's employment. Activists in recent days have suggested that several managerial-level district employees have resigned under pressure earlier this year, although this cannot currently be independently confirmed.

In recent days, all 90 faculty members now working at the high school, along with several Arlington parents of Minuteman students plus some of those students themselves, have complained about the superintendent, who has been employed for less than 11 months. Students from nine different municipalities are enrolled at the award-winning, trades-oriented campus.

ACMi reports about controversy:

On May 1, the Minuteman Faculty Association Union voted no confidence in Dawson, superintendent of the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District -- the first time that the organization had ever taken such an action, according to its president.

Union President Diane Dempsey on May 10 told YourArlington that the vote was unanimous.

“Our working conditions directly impact the learning conditions of our students. The overwhelming vote by our members to take this action demonstrates how deeply dismayed Minuteman educators are at the lack of a productive relationship with Superintendent Kathleen Dawson,” Dempsey wrote via email. “This is the first time a vote of no confidence has been taken on any administrator in the school's history.”


Walkout organized via social media

Students made good on their previously stated intention to temporarily leave classes in support of Clement on Monday, May 8, as per this Instagram post >> Participants were asked to dress in black, to remain on school property and to be respectful. “It is not time to fool around with friends,” the post says.

As can be seen on the NBC video, taken at about 11 a.m. May 8, many participants appear to be wearing black clothing.

Since then, LexMedia -- Lexington's equivalent of Arlington's ACMi --shot and publicly posted a video, running slightly longer than 4 minutes, in which more than a dozen students were briefly interviewed about their strong desire to have Clement retained as principal. As well, ACMi, in Arlington Heights, created its own video, which may be seen in this account.

Students have been asked by YourArlington to comment on the situation, but, as of 8 p.m. May 12, none had done so.


Letter added to relevant TM article

On Monday, May 8, Precinct 9 Town Meeting member Mona Mandal had a letter included with Article 44, theMinuteman appropriation, set to be discussed that same evening.

Despite criticisms of the district in the letter from eight Arlington residents -- including their claim that three managerial-level Minuteman employees had resigned in recent months and that a fourth is expected to do so effective next month --the appropriation passed as presented at that fifth Town Meeting on May 8.

YourArlington was previously aware of the departure of one of those employees -- and has been attempting to confirm the status of the others.

Petition drives on

The petition -- linked here >> -- says, in part:

“We, the students and parents of Minuteman Technical High School, need signatures for this petition to try to urge the superintendent to reconsider her decision to not renew our principal's contract. Our superintendent didn’t renew his contract for reasons that we are unaware of. I want to clarify that no one was informed of any wrongdoings by Mr. Clement. If we are notified of any details, I will share it on this petition.

“Under his leadership, our school has made tremendous progress both academically and technically. He brings such a positive attitude to our school and is friendly with everyone. Removing Mr. Clement from his position would be detrimental to the entire school community. It can cause a disruption to school programs, affect student morale and create uncertainty for teachers and staff.”

As of 4 p.m. Friday, May 12, 1,549 people had signed the online petition, which is still accepting additional signatures. As of May 10 a second petition drive began -- this one demanding that the superintendent resign or be removed -- which had more than 640 signatures by 4 p.m. Friday, May 12. Because that second petition has been issued in the name of two different groups in as many days, and because neither of the two groups nor any of their leaders or members are known, and for other reasons,YourArlington is choosing not to post the URL of the petition.

No response yet from superintendent, principal

On April 28, YourArlington asked both Clement and Dawson for comment; they have not responded to date. YourArlington made a second request to Dawson the evening of May 9, focusing on verifying the letter's claims of high-level administrators resigning under pressure. As previously noted, YourArlington's second request to Clement went unanswered, the only response being an automatic reply saying he is out of the office.

According to published reports, Dawson has been in her job for less than one year; besting two other finalists, she was hired at the end of January 2022 and began serving at the beginning of July 2022. She is the successor to Edward Bouquillon, who retired in June 2022 after 15 years with the district. This page from theMinuteman websitegives details including links to the resumes of all three candidates considered in January 2022.

A few days ago, Minuteman parents sent YourArlington a statement about Clement, which says in part:

“No details have been shared with the school community around Dr. Dawson's decision. Teachers, students, parents and administrators are disheartened and frustrated by this unexpected news. For many years, Principal Clement has been highly regarded by the Minuteman community for his leadership during the pandemic and other challenging transition periods, as well as [for] his compassion and humor both as an educator and an administrator.”

Comment from grateful Minuteman graduate

Commenting also was Lucy Kitchenka of Arlington, supported by Minuteman parents Claudia Donnet of Arlington, Erin Palmer of Acton and Shelley Scruggs of Lexington:

“Mr. Clement was a huge impact on my high school career. He gave me the opportunity to go on a radio show, to be interviewed by the Boston Globe, to be a moderator at the 'girls in trades conference' and so many other amazing opportunities. Through it all, he stood beside me and gave me the confidence to do all of it.

“When it came to my class president speech for graduation, I was terrified. Mr. Clement sat down with me, went over the speech and reminded me that I would do great.

“At the awards ceremony he called me up and handed me a book with a note written on the first page by him. Whenever I begin to doubt myself, I look back at this note and remind myself that if I set my mind to it, I can do it, and it is because of the amazing man he is that I was able to know this in the first place.

“Mr. Clement has been with this school for what a decade and in his time has made an absolutely incredible impact on every student [who] has walked through that door. If it’s putting a smile on their face with the morning announcements or forming a person[al] connection with them, he has always and will always be an extreme asset to Minuteman.”

Background on Minuteman

According to its previously published newsletters and news releases, “Minuteman is an award-winning regional career and technical high school and continuing education institution that integrates robust academic and technical learning.

“As an accredited member of the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC), Minuteman challenges all students to aspire to their full potential, accelerate their learning and achieve success in the 21st-century global community.

Located in Lexington in a new state-of-the-art facility, Minuteman’s member towns are Acton, Arlington, Bolton, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Needham and Stow. Learn more at”


March 23, 2013: Minuteman students increase accessibility for women everywhere


This news summary was first published Monday, May 1, 2023, based on information from several Minuteman parents. It was updated May 8, to substantiate that the student walkout occurred that day as planned, and to include a letter sent to Arlington Town Meeting relevant to the Minuteman situation. Further updates occurred May 9, to provide details about the content of that letter sent in the name of eight Arlington residents (that number also having been corrected that date); May 10, with a quote from the head of the teachers' union on its no-confidence vote, noting that a second petition drive has been undertaken, to add a video link from LexMedia of the walkout; May 11, to report an expected closed session of the School Committee; and May 12, to add an ACMi video account about the school and to confirm that the superintendent-director as of that date had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.