“Sneaky isn’t in her makeup. Period.”
That was Westford Public School superintendent Bill Olsen’s response to a parent’s accusation aimed at principal Denise Arvidson during Monday night's School Committee meeting.
After a presentation by Arvidson detailing the reallocation of space at Robinson, parent Shelly Newark addressed the School Committee with her concerns.
Those concerns became personal and the School Committee members and other parents, tipped off that something like this was going to happen, came to Arvidson’s defense.
Newark began by addressing concerns about having more children in a teaching suite in order to create a separate technology lab space and private meeting/workspace area. Her concerns for her child quickly turned into a personal attack on Arvidson.
“Why do we want to displace students, make them more disrupted all in the name of administrative comfort?” Newark asked.
Newark went on to say that she felt deceived by Arvidson and gave what School Committee chair Angela Harkness later described as “he said, she said” scenarios to back her case.
“I pay (Arvidson) to make decisions," Olsen told Newark. "(My staff members) don’t make them in a haphazard manner. They work at what’s in the best interest of everyone’s children. I completely support her.”
Several parents of children at the Robinson School came to Arvidson’s defense by vouching for her character and her communication of the proposed changes with parents.
“I fully support this change," said Robinson parent Steve Wojcik, who worked with Arvidson on the student advisory council. "It’s working with the limited resources available. As parents we’re always concerned we’re doing the right thing for the kids. I feel it has been well vetted and in the best interest of the children.”
Though some expressed concern for the open-space teaching concept in general, they praised Arvidson’s commitment.
“I think the (classroom) suites are fine. What I keep coming up with is (that) it’s one change. I want to defend Denise. The only thing in her mind and heart is the best interest of the children,” said parent Barbie Goodhue.