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Letter: Comment on DEI in Mount Greylock School Budget
04:15PM / Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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To the Editor:

"Mount Greylock School Committee Members Push to Keep Diversity Post in Budget" (March 27) prompts responses from Lanesborough, Williamstown and other towns that send their students to the Mount Greylock Regional School District.

The DEI position has been a source of controversy since its creation. There is little, if any, disagreement that our communities want our schools to be welcoming and free of bias. The controversy stems from determining the best way to achieve this goal. Superintendent McCandless was spot on when he said that advocating for the schools "in complete isolation of the bigger picture ... is not a good recipe for actually getting a budget through town meeting. It is not a good recipe for building a long and respectful relationship with the community you depend on for financial support."

I urge the Mount Greylock Regional School District to reach out now to the sending communities with specifics about the initiative. They may have done this somewhat before, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what Superintendent McCandless described as "[an] ethically and morally mandated position."

Some of the questions I see as needing comment from the district now are:

How did the DEI committee come to life? What ongoing problems in our schools and/or specific event prompted its creation? Who were the founding members? How were they selected? Was there diversity of opinion on whether the initiative was needed? Was there diversity of opinion on whether a DEI administrator was needed?

• Who made the recommendations about curriculum changes? How were these changes vetted? How were they approved? Were any academics replaced by the new curriculum and content?

• Where can the public see the job description for the DEI administrator?

• Why does the DEI search committee think a successful candidate could not be found? How might they change their search if the position is approved?

• Many DEI programs exist in many schools. Has the district researched the effectiveness of several existing programs?

I hope others will quickly join in seeking information so our communities can make a well-reasoned decision about whether to include this position in the FY24 budget. The opportunity for public comment begins this week. I hope all interested community members will ask their questions and state their concerns and/or their support for the initiative and the administrative position. They can speak in this forum and others and attend the public meetings. Information, especially clearly stated and based on fact, defuses controversy and often gains support.

Donna Wied
Williamstown, Mass. 



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