Wellesley parent still seeks answers from school administrators over orchestra moves

Ron Alexander, the Wellesley parent whose persistent inquiries about changes to the school system’s music personnel landed him in court late last year after the school system’s performing arts director accused him of intimidating her, is still seeking answers from Wellesley Public School Superintendent David Lussier. Alexander claims Lussier is the only one who can really answer his questions.

While Alexander agreed to refrain from communications with arts director Beth Perry, he has continued to try to get answers from higher ups about why the high school orchestra director was shifted to middle school/elementary school duties, ”why we do not have a full orchestra in the high school even though the 2009 Performing Arts Curriculum says that we should,” and information about  the qualifications of teachers in the Performing Arts Department.

The Townsman has recently shed some light on this subject through public records requests. Alexander has made public records requests himself as well, particularly surrounding the administration’s assertions of changes in personnel being made for programmatic reasons. A records request on this topic by Alexander was handled by the outgoing assistant superintendent Sal Petralia, who wrote that no documents “responsive” to Alexander’s request exist.

Alexander last week contacted the media and also sent a letter to the Board of Selectmen, Advisory Committee and School Committee about his concerns. In part, the letter reads: “I am bringing to your attention the disturbing fact that Superintendent David Lussier is refusing to meet with parents.  I have tried for several days to schedule a meeting with him, and he has stubbornly and steadfastly refused…. The Superintendent speaks publicly about his openness, transparency, and welcoming of community input, but apparently does not practice what he preaches.”

Lussier has directly communicated with Alexander about the latter’s desire to meet, indicating that Alexander should take his case to  Petralia and director of curriculum/instruction Dean Blase, and that Lussier would try to join any such meeting. The communications between the various parties has generally been professional and courteous, though Alexander has stressed his wish to meet with Lussier in light of what he cites as “the breakdown in communication that has been the major factor in this whole episode.”

Lussier told us last week via email that while it’s not uncommon for individuals to reach out to the superintendent that such inquiries are generally dealt with by those with access to the most information about the situation. “If that cannot happen for some reason, I am typically joined by the related administrators when discussing parent concerns….Given the amount of individual and group engagement I have had in the past two years, I think I have been extremely accessible to parents and other members of the community.” Lussier has in fact joined meetings between other administrators and parents.

The superintendent has been busy over the past week pushing the administration’s strategic plan at Town Meeting (via here).
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