Lawrence School Committee Member Resigns, Pulls Kids Out of School

After a year of demanding public documents and information about how Deval Patrick and his Department of Education is planning to turn around the Lawrence Public Schools with zero results, one member of the Lawrence School Committee has chosen to take her children out of the Lawrence School System and has resigned from the school committee.

Jen Cooper, who was elected over incumbent Mark Gray in 2011 to represent the Mount Vernon “District E” section of Lawrence says in her resignation letter to Mayor Lantigua that she can no longer allow her children “to NOT be educated in Lawrence.”

Cooper, a life long Democrat whose party took over the Lawrence Public Schools and stripped the school committee of their power by installing a state appointed receiverm says she can no longer trust that the Deval Patrick Administration or Commissioner of Education, Mitchell Chester have the best interest of her children at heart.

Cooper had two small children at the Frost School, Wesley who is seven years old and going into the 2nd grade and Kaitlin who is eight years old and going into the 3rd grade.

“As a parent of two Lawrence Public School students,” Cooper writes in her resignation letter, “I no longer trust that my children will receive an adequate education under Receiver Riley’s new turnaround plan. As a result, I have chosen to remove my children from the Lawrence Public Schools and have moved out of Lawrence, so that they can attend a school system which will give them the best chance of receiving an excellent education in their formative years.

Cooper says that her decision was not made lightly and cited as one factor, The Department of Education’s failure to hire teachers in the classroom who are in the field of education. Cooper says that Receiver Riley and Commissioner Chester are placing teachers in the schools who do not have the experience and are not educators by profession.

“I am a firm believer that every child in public schools should be taught by certified teachers who have dedicated their careers to the teaching profession. Receiver Riley, Governor Deval Patrick, and Commissioner Chester do not share that view,” Cooper said.

The Valley Patriot obtained an advance copy of the resignation letter which will be posted in its’ entirety on Tuesday morning, August 21st.

Jen Cooper
Jen Cooper

Cooper says that the Receiver Riley and Commissioner Chester continue to spend the tax payers money in secrecy and refuse to release their spending and curriculum plans to the public.

“Furthermore, their refusal to disseminate information to the public concerning what changes are being made to the curriculum and their insistence on doing the public’s business in secret has left me no choice but to remove my children and resign from the Lawrence School Committee.”

Under the city charter a special election must be called to replace Cooper on the school committee. The Lawrence City Council can obtain a home rule petition from the legislature to forego a special election.

The Lawrence School Committee has not met in more than 60 days and has no authority over spending or curriculum under the takeover legislation passed last year. The legislation does not disband the committee nor does it take away the committee’s role as representatives of the voters of Lawrence to question spending of the tax payers dollars on the Lawrence Public Schools.