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ABOUT TOWN: West School Principal Announces Departure

Welcome to "About Town with Mark Snyder," a column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what's going on around town. If you see or hear something we could use here, let us know by sending an e-mail to pmpco@aol.com.

WEST SCHOOL PRINCIPAL LEAVES: Brendan Dearborn, principal of the , notified parents on Friday that he was taking a position in another district.

Dearborn, who became principal at the West in July of 2008, followed the previous principal, Debbie Levitz. He had been an assistant principal and a teacher at the school for three years prior to his appointment.

Dearborn wrote parents: "I hope everyone is having a great summer! I write this email with very mixed emotions. I have recently accepted a Principalship in another school district. I have loved my time at the West School both as a teacher and as the principal. I have met so many wonderful families and children here over the last seven years that I will never forget. I wish all of you the best in the future and will miss the West."

Dearborn had run into a buzzsaw at the school, with concerned parents requesting a meeting to discuss problems at the school including issues with student safety, academic performance and communciation.

But in a letter dated July 10, School Committee Chair Deborah Sovinee had denied the request for the group of parents to come before the school committee, and instead had suggested they meet privately with her and Vice Chair Joyce Husseini to discuss the situation, along with school administration.  

"Resolution on issues that one really wants to resolve is best done through discussion and listening rather than in front of a camera. There are also potenital legal issues to be avoided, on advice of our counsel," the letter states.

A survey revealed that the faculty at the West didn't have an effective process for making group decisions to solve problems.

Sovinee told About Town that Dearborn "is a gifted educator who will be missed."

After seven years at the West, Dearborn will now be working in Walpole.

"He is a truly caring and creative principal and I envy his new school," Sovinee said. "An example of his innovation is the which is so popular at the West School - over 160 children are enrolled there now, supplementing their school curricula by learning and being exposed to everything from art to science, as well as receiving a ! I wish Mr. Dearborn all the best."  

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ann Hopkins July 21, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Let it be known that it is Ed Gilbert, the head of food services for the town of Stoughton, who is the person who brought the free lunch program to the school system and who, along with the women who work in the cafeteria there, cook, serve and clean up after the children who take advantage of the program, despite the fact that there is no air conditioning in the school. Last week the temperatures in the building hit 90 degrees and yet this dedicated group of people cheerfully served lunches to many of the town's kids.
Sarah July 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Any idea who will replace him? 1 month to find a replacement is a very short time line for hiring a school principal. Usually principal searches last several months...
Jeffrey Pickette (Editor) July 21, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Hi Sarah, we'll definitely be following up on this and will ask Dr. Rizzi about the search process.
Debra Smith Cote July 21, 2012 at 04:15 PM
A lot of parents are really looking forward to working with the next Principal to make the West the best!
Debra Smith Cote July 21, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Thank you Ann. Give credit where credit is due...
Townie for Life July 21, 2012 at 06:34 PM
my prediction
Fiscal Conservative July 21, 2012 at 08:17 PM
First, the teachers at one school run a Principal out of town. Now it sounds like parents run a second Principal out of town. I guess that the School Dept is not a very good place to work any more. Tick someone off and you're gone.
Theresa July 21, 2012 at 09:00 PM
They will never find a better person than Mr. Dearborn. Not only was he an awesome principal, but he also cared about the students. Never once did I ever worry about the safety of my children or their education while at the West. When my daughter was being bullied on the school bus in kindergarten by a second grade student, he took care of it by the next day . He will be missed dearly, my daughter is very upset about this. I hope that his decision was not based on those parents who have nothing better to do than harass a great principal.
Debra Smith Cote July 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I believe the decision was based on his own personal goals for his career, and probably work/life balance, (I'm pretty sure) Walpole is much closer to where his own children go to school. To Theresa, I'm very happy that the situation your daughter went well for her and you, but the fact is that there are a lot of other students that were not so fortunate. The Concerned Parents of the west School group (and yes, I am a member of that group) never had any intention of attacking any employee or administrator in the school system. The group has clearly outlined its goals and they involve policy and planning requests so that the school can achieve the same standards of education that the other Elementary schools in Stoughton have. To the Fiscal Conservative, it is not a matter of "ticking someone off". Review the MassTeLLS and read about the academics at the West School prior to commenting. You will find that The West School is rated a 3 out of 5 by the DOE, scores on MCAS have not risen and the school has not met its Adequate Yearly Progress goals since 2008. Just the facts. Oh, and believe me, those Concerned Parents have PLENTY to do in their own lives.
Townie for Life July 22, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Instead of hiring a new principal, they should let the concerned parents of the west organization run the school...after all they seem to have all the facts....good luck to whoever replaces Mr. Dearborn with those vultures circling under the guise of "doing whats best for the kids." With all the area communities looking for qualified principals, who in their right mind would go to the West? Fact is they lost a committed, outstanding principal that managed to make a few vocal, bitter parents go after his job...If he was as terrible as they claim, why would a strong system like Walpole hire him and give him what I am sure is a significant raise? Questions I am sure the "concerned" parents" haven't given much thought to. Chances of finding anyone close to Dearborn in late July? Zero. Be careful for what you wish for.
Fiscal Conservative July 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Just like in Pro sports, there is always someone who thinks he/she can turn things around. Usually, with no success, as the problem lies far deeper than they thought. This sounds like the problem, at the West, is well below the surface. My prediction, for a year or so the next Principal may obtain some success, but, eventually the problem will rise to the surface again.
Michelle July 22, 2012 at 04:30 PM
While it is nice to see individuals supporting a school member, the facts remain the same. No one has any idea why this man left for another district. Blaming a concerned parent group, of which I am not a member, is counterproductive to the end goal of creating a school where all students can flourish. The results of the survey speak loudly. I would be appalled if my child went to a school with such results and I would be questioning the measures being taken to improve such a situation. As a matter of fact, my children do not and never will go to the West School even though we live less than a mile away. It was quite an easy decision after my investigation of the school. The scores are bad, the behavioral management system is atrocious, and I have yet to speak to a parent who is fully happy with the school. As an administrator in another school system, I can attest to the fact that the building's sense of community is directly attached to the pricipal. I am not saying Mr. Dearborn is a terrible man or even a terrible principal, but the dynamics of the relationship within the building were not working. Therefore, they needed to change. As an added note, I went through the Stoughton school system and loved it. I really wanted my children to have the same experience. Unfortunately, that wasn't going to happen. PS...principals, good and so-so, move to different districts all the time. That's nothing new.
Jeffrey Pickette (Editor) July 23, 2012 at 04:05 PM
An update on this story: http://stoughton.patch.com/articles/about-town-search-is-on-for-new-west-school-principal
Debbie Biancuzzo Menz July 23, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Why don't you learn the facts before you make ridiculous comments!
Cathy July 25, 2012 at 04:18 AM
The analogy to Pro sports is a good one. When a team is not performing well and not winning games the coach goes. Usually at the end of the season not when training camp is about to begin. Does it mean he is a bad coach? No, perhaps just not a good fit for the team. And like Principals, another team, or school, is ready to hire him.
Suzan July 26, 2012 at 10:59 PM
It is unfortunate that the West School lost a dedicated professional who cared for our children. I have been very pleased with the school, and Mr. Dearborn, since my son started the West. Hopefukky his decision to leave is one that he made for personal reasons. I wish him the best and hope the West finds another principal who cares for our children as much as Mr. Dearborn.

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