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UPDATED June 21: The Minuteman School Committee on June 13 voted unanimously to purchase vehicles, to approve a student trip and to go behind closed doors to discuss minutes of closed sessions from the dramatic period in the Minuteman Regional Technical Vocational School District earlier in the spring.

Staff and committee members agreed that the district frequently needs to transport students to field trips, competitive sporting events, internship sites and other destinations. For that reason, a surplus within the general budget is now to be tapped to cover the cost of two 12-passenger vans, though the amount was not mentioned.

Arlington’s representative on the nine-member committee, Michael Ruderman, asked about and was assured that these vans will be able to be legally driven by any adult with a standard drivers license.

Select Board to review applications

Ruderman’s term is scheduled to end the evening of June 30.

 He and four other Arlingtonians are to have their applications for the post reviewed June 21 by the town’s Select Board, with a possible vote that same night.

On Friday. June 16, via email, Steve Ledoux of Concord, committee vice chair and chair of the finance subcommittee, said that members at the meeting had authorized a transfer within the operating budget of $135,000 to purchase the vans. 

Acting Superintendent-Director Kevin Mahoney, via email the next day gave more details. “The quote for the vehicles was about $120,000, and they will be used to transport our students from school to job sites to gain valuable work training in the field. We hope the vehicles will be delivered shortly after the beginning of school opening in the fall, but that will be [pending the] production schedules by the manufacturers.”

Mahoney – until recently a consultant to the district, and before that its assistant superintendent -- was appointed by the committee May 18 and began work May 26. He is acting in the place of Superintendent-Director Kathleen Dawson, whom the committee put on administrative leave the evening of May 11, following a closed session.

This impending purchase was welcome news to at least one Arlington parent with a child at Minuteman. Claudia Donnet told YourArlington that many sophomores, including her child, had missed an environmental-studies trip a few days prior because of a lack of transportation.

Bouchard named acting principal

In his email message, Mahoney also said that, during his first week in his new job, he had appointed Kathleen “Katie” Bouchard as acting principal of the high school. 

"[Bouchard] was promoted from her position as director of career technical education. A search process is currently underway for an interim principal,” Mahoney said. 

He added that Principal George Clement is on leave until his contract ends at the close of the business day June 30. Dawson’s refusal to extend Clement’s contract was the single biggest factor triggering protests among many Minuteman students, parents and teachers last month.

Bouchard, in her first committee meeting in her new role, sought and got approval for an environmental trip to Star Island, N.H., for Sept. 10-13. The students would be taking a ferry to and from the location, she said in response to a committee question.

Turning to another topic, Bouchard said that the school’s animal-science program, particularly its veterinary assistant portion, is expanding and seeking to hire an additional teacher. The veterinary assistant program already includes clinical rotations and cooperative education opportunities; possibly next school year it may include dog grooming.

French instruction ends

About the academic side, she reported that going forward, French will no longer be taught at the school, though Spanish still will be, and there is a possibility of adding American Sign Language. Those relatively few families who wish their children to continue with French are being advised to seek dual enrollment at Middlesex Community College or other institutions, especially if those students anticipate needing two years of foreign language to apply to a four-year college.

 Bouchard noted that summer school, set to run July 10-28, already has more than 200 middle-school students enrolled who will focus on career technical education. She explained in a later email to YourArlington that these students are scheduled to be in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades in their home districts in September and that they are not necessarily future Minuteman High School students. In addition, a much smaller number of current Minuteman High students -- perhaps no more than 25 -- will likely be taking academic-recovery and enrichment classes over the same dates.

Orientation for incoming freshmen is set for Aug. 1-3, she added.

Releasing closed-session minutes weighed

In other business June 13:

  • Mahoney, in his second committee meeting in his current capacity, won unanimous approval to hire for two positions – director of admissions and marketing, and director of information technology. 
  • Mahoney reported that all seniors had graduated, for a total of 147 students, earlier in the month. More than 77 scholarships were awarded, he said.
  • The committee welcomed Charlene Cabral as the committee member representing Lancaster, succeeding Jennifer Leone. Cabral introduced herself briefly, saying that she is a former English as a Second Language teacher and now an attorney practicing in Leominster.
  • The committee went into closed session to discuss “the release or continued nondisclosure” of minutes from closed sessions from April 8, 2023, through May 31, 2023. This period covers the protests – a student walkout, a faculty vote of no confidence, petition drives and other actions -- by hundreds who demanded that Clement be retained and Dawson dismissed. Many also have claimed that Dawson’s management style had prompted several employee resignations in her first 10 months on the job; she began work July 1. Clement has been principal for several years and previously held other positions with the district. Neither Clement nor Dawson has responded to YourArlington requests for comment; Dawson in an interview last month with The Boston Globe said that she has done no deliberate wrong and expects to be exonerated.
  • June 13 was the last day of regular instruction for the 2022-2033 school year. Committee Chair Pam Nourse said that enormous thanks are due to the “staff and faculty for being able to wrap up the [school] year in a positive way.”
  • The committee is next scheduled to meet July 18 and expects to have a meeting in August, Nourse said. 

Kathleen DawsonSuperintendent-Director Kathleen Dawson on leave.

George ClementPrincipal George Clement on leave. 


May 17, 2023: Minuteman School Committee approves appointment, contract of acting superintendent

    


This news summary by YourArlington Assistant Editor Judith Pfeffer was published Monday, June 19, 2023, and updated Wednesday, June 23, to correct the number and grade level of those set to take part in summer-school programming.