Massachusetts has laws against criminal harassment, including cyberbullying, which include electronically-communicated threats and willfully and maliciously directing electronic communications at a specific person that seriously alarm that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress.

Anyone following this blog over the past few months knows that conversations with Grafton Teachers Association about their contract can become heated.  I have, in the past, expressed the opinion that the School Committee’s last offer to the GTA was fair, that the GTA should accept it, and if they chose not to accept this fair offer, they always have the option of accepting employment in a community that they feel pays more fairly.

This seems like a fairly reasonable position to take.  In response to this position, however, the GTA, has encouraged its supporters to engage in a mob-type mentality that has crossed the line.

Last month, in response to my suggestion that teachers unhappy with the latest offer wIMG_2531ere free to test the free market and find greener pastures, the husband of a Grafton teacher suggested that I would “regret” airing that particular opinion.

Feeling like I had nothing to regret, I continued to address the teachers’ contract issue on the Grafton News website by publishing facts concerning the latest offer.

 

 

 

 

In response to my comments, a GTA member posted a response under the handle “Edsadick.”  Here’s screen shot:IMG_2538

The GTA continues to take the position that the 2014 Override funds were raised in support, and in anticipation of, teacher raises.  This is patently untrue, and I’ve pointed this out as well.  In response to the act of simply pointing out facts, the GTA obtained and posted a canvassing script that I authored, in which I acknowledged that the override would be passed in part to pay teacher salaries (of course it would – just not raises requested in the next round of negotiations).

The script, however, included my personal phone number which they not only failed to redact, they actually highlighted.

IMG_2741

Several people on facebook pointed out that this was inappropriate, and former educator suggested that this could be construed as cyberbullying.

The school department has a policy on ethical conduct, as reflected in a memo entitled Healthy Boundaries for Educators.  The memo reads, in pertinent part: “Outside School:You are a private citizen, but are always and [sic] educator.  Your out of school conduct can effect your job security.  The line between your public and private lives is less clear.  What you post on a webpage can be accessed by students and parents/guardians.  If you would not want the superintendent to read it ‘Don’t post it.'”

Doubling down on their misleading rhetoric concerning the 2014 override money, the GTA again went back to the well on this argument by re-posting the YESGrafton canvassing script, this time without my phone number, but still calling me out by name as a political opponent.

IMG_2746 - Copy

Now, mind you – I have no role in this debate as a Finance Committee member.  Teacher raises are a school department issue.  When I comment on the logic of the GTA’s arguments, I’m doing it as a private resident.

And the message to this private resident is “Shut up, Prisby! If you won’t stop speaking out, we’ll try and intimidate you into doing so.”

Good luck trying to intimidate me into silence.  You’ve got better luck getting blood from a stone.

But, this behavior by GTA is deeply disturbing.  If they cannot police the actions of their own members relative to residents and tax payers who simply disagree with them, how can you trust them to do so with our kids?  What kind of judgment is this?

What’s more, while I won’t be pressing charges, these actions were clearly designed to intimidate and cause fear, even if they did not.  These actions are also clearly unethical, in violation of school code.  The purveyors of the GTA’s facebook page should make their identities known so that the school department can determine whether disciplinary action is warranted.

Hopefully, the fact finder is made aware of this behavior and it’s taken into account.  Hopefully parents appreciate how disturbing this is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

  1. I have been told twice now that I should not voice my opinion on this issue it in the possibility of Jay’s departure because I am not involved enough to know what is going on. With two children in the schools, you can bet I am paying attention. But I should have a conversation with someone to better understand the issues because no one wants to post The Truth online. I’ve asked several times now for the GTA to show us the waste that they claim is happening. The Grafton News reported that there is waste. So where is it, exactly? Based on the information I have, I’ve formed an opinion. If they ever decide to release this additional evidence, I might change my mind because I can.

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  2. I have been told twice now that I should not voice my opinion on this issue or on the possibility of Jay’s departure because I am not involved enough to know what is going on. With two children in the schools, you can bet I am paying attention. But I should have a conversation with someone to better understand the issues because no one wants to post The Truth online. I’ve asked several times now for the GTA to show us the waste that they claim is happening. The Grafton News reported that there is waste. So where is it, exactly? Based on the information I have, I’ve formed an opinion. If they ever decide to release this additional evidence, I might change my mind because I can.

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  3. Ed, you seemed like a well-informed guy with some data at your fingertips. I’m just trying to get a handle on this as I have a child in the Grafton school system. So based on everything you know and have seen do you see that there is there ANY way to move Grafton’s teachers salaries to parity with surrounding towns without reducing the teacher headcount? any way to move money around, reduce budget from one place to put towards another, etc. etc? I’ve got to believe we are not managing our budget 100% effectively because a town managing it’s budget 100% effectively would actually defy the laws of physics. But if we are indeed breaking the speed of light and managing our budget as best as we can what do you see, as the chair of the finance committee, as our ability to generate more tax revenue by attracting more businesses to the town? What are our efforts there? And I’m not necessarily referring to just mom and pop, but actual budget shifting business. we don’t have Route 9 but I also have to believe we have not done everything we could possibly do to drive more businesses to come here and generate more tax revenue. who is leading this charge? what programs are in place to incent business to come? if we have failed at a bid what did we learn from the failure? if we have succeeded how have we tried to repeat that sucess? on and on… Because at the end of the day a town without teacher retention becomes a ghost town. Plain and simple. Everyone will clear out of Dodge if the school ratings crater from our valuable teachers leaving for greener pastures. It’s happened to towns before, it’s happening to towns now, it will happen again in the future. I doo not want Grafton to be one of those towns. Your thoughts on this are appreciated

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    1. I’ve thought a lot about this question since you posted it yesterday, and I think that it’s response deserves it’s own blog post. It really is a good jumping off point to the “where do we go from here” conversation that needs to begin. Plus, I’m a little bored with this whole GTA thing at this point.

      But for now, the short answer to your question is: no, there really isn’t much we can do to to increase teacher compensation without reducing their ranks. We can start doing things like raising/instituting fees (athletics, transportation). But the effectiveness of that approach is limited. Sure, you could fire some administrators. But unlike the GTA, as a parent and tax payer, I see that as reducing the effectiveness of the school program just as much as if you let teachers go. Despite what the GTA may believe, I see administrators as also having a vital role in education. (I also think it’s a little bit sick the way certain teachers are practically frothing at their mouths to layoff administrators to see a marginal bump in their weekly paycheck). And unlike the town side, the schools actually zero base their budgets every year. Could we find a touch more money in there here or there? Perhaps, and that’s why we have a FinComm, and why we go through their budgets every year, I suppose. But we’re not going to solve the town’s problems like that. That all having been said, I’m committed to making sure we’re not wasting money. If in my examination of the budget this year I find that we are, I’ll say so.

      Are we doing enough to bring in business? No. There are people in town who are committed to it and who are generating good ideas, but in my opinion the town’s leadership hasn’t made it a priority. Members of the Board of Selectmen keep referencing potential business development at Sentec Park. But that isn’t a plan to create revenue. It’s an aspiration. Hopes and dreams aren’t plans. That’s where I want to begin with the next post.

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