School chief proposes ongoing forum to address parent concerns

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SHEFFIELD — Southern Berkshire Regional School District Superintendent Beth Regulbuto has proposed an ongoing community forum to address parent concerns that have recently boiled to the surface.

Regulbuto sent an email to the school district community Thursday addressing controversies including the dean of students' absence at the start of the school year, new safety protocols that include locking some interior school doors, staffing changes and a social media post by a faculty member alleging a "hostile work environment" in the district.

Last week, about 50 parents and students attended a district School Committee meeting to voice concerns about the above issues as well as budgeting, field trips, curriculum and a perceived lack of communication between the district and the school community.

Parents contacted by The Eagle were reluctant to comment on the record about the letter, but people posting to the Save SBRSD Facebook page said they want to see action from the district and welcomed the idea of having community forums.

In her letter, Regulbuto said "controversy" is pushing focus away from the district's mission to create a "rigorous educational environment that prepares and inspires all students to be resilient, curious, and ethical global citizens."

Regulbuto said she has already begun a process to have continuing community forums for parents, faculty, staff and district officials to air concerns and receive information. In her letter, she directly addressed a few parent questions: What happened to the dean of students and is the school environment safe?

Regulbuto said she could not provide further details about the dean of students or any personnel, but that the matter had been resolved.

"While it has become public knowledge that we are dealing with certain personnel matters," she wrote, "I am not relieved of my responsibility to preserve the privacy rights of those individuals involved."

As far as school safety goes, Regulbuto said the social media comments were investigated by Sheffield police and no threat to the school, students or larger school community ever existed.

Regulbuto said she is working to enhance communication between parents and the district.

"I trust that the systems I am setting in place will address many of the concerns raised these past few weeks and we will continue our work with a renewed commitment to our core values of opportunity, excellence, character, and community," she wrote.

Kristin Palpini can be reached at kpalpini@berkshireeagle.com, @kristinpalpini on Twitter, 413-629-4621.

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