But Warren Shaw and Mike Miles Can’t Debate the Real Issues
By: D.J. Deeb – January, 2010
The letter is ludicrous and speaks for itself. Unlike Mike Miles and his Gang, I will actually address the issues that he raises regarding my previous column, statements in his letter, and offer insight into some of the latest developments concerning the members of the Dracut School Committee.
First off, while serving on the Greater Lowell Tech School Committee, although I was critical at times of Superintendent Bill Collins. Although we disagreed at times, I still have a great deal of respect for Mr. Collins. Superintendent Bill Collins decided to retire in 1999 on his own accord. I certainly did not have the power or influence to force him out as a minority member of a 6-2 board. As far as the next superintendent, Sheila Herbert, is concerned, I was one of her four original supporters. Did Mr. Miles forget the fact that as a member of an 8-member committee, I sat there and voted for Sheila Herbert for Superintendent 200 times in a 4-4 split roll-call? Eventually, Mike Hayden (Miles’ business partner) switched his vote in favor of Mrs. Herbert and she was elected in a 5-3 vote. I supported Sheila Herbert in her role as Superintendent and Mrs Herbert also retired on her own accord.
Now let’s consider what happened when I was on the Dracut School Committee. As far as Mrs. Espindle is concerned, we certainly had many differences and I would not have voted to renew Superintendent Espindle’s contract. I always liked her personally, but I believe in perfomance-based assessment. In previous columns, I have addressed the poor performance of Dracut Schools under her leadership and the political nepotism that Miles et. al have sanctioned.
I cannot speak, nor do I claim to speak for, other board members, past or present. Having said that Mrs. Espindle chose not to seek a contract renewal and decided to retire from Dracut Schools. I realize that Mike Miles and his Gang are so supportive and defensive because she hired their friends for positions in Dracut Schools. Do I need to mention names because I certainly can?
Mike Miles charges that I have an “obsession” with Warren Shaw. That’s giving Shaw too much credit. Warren is as influential as he is because people like Mike Miles allow him to get away with stuff.
Warren continues to attack me even though I am out of office and spread vicious lies on the radio and I will not permit him to get away with it. He uses his radio show and Valley Dispatch column to attack anyone he does not like or who disagrees with him.
This whole exchange started when Warren wrote an article criticizing me and other past members of the Dracut School Committee in the November 13th Valley Dispatch. Warren, like anyone else, certainly has a right to his opinion (I will defend that right even though he thinks others should not be able to speak/write freely), but he should CHECK HIS FACTS! He wrote that the Dracut Superintendent Search Committee was “headed by Dracut Housing Authority member Ken Martin, who in turn appointed school board member Dennis Deeb to the Housing Authority Director Search Committee.”
This is blatantly false.
Ken Martin asked the Chairpersons of both the Dracut Board of Selectmen and the Dracut School Committee to serve on the screening committee, or select a representative from their respective boards, to recommend finalist candidates for Executive Director of the Dracut Housing Authority. Dracut School Committee Chairman Ron Mercier appointed me as the representative since I was Vice-Chair and he did not have the time to serve in this role.
I was NOT appointed by Ken Martin. Instead of criticizing Tom Duggan and the Valley Patriot for printing the truth, MAYBE THE DISPATCH AND WARREN SHAW SHOULD CHECK THEIR FACTS!
The previous School Committee and I have been unfairly attacked and criticized for the process we followed in hiring Dracut Superintendent Spencer Mullin. Mike Miles and Warren Shaw have been championing this criticism.
Unlike the process that has been followed in appointing Interim Superintendent Elaine Espindle, the process that we followed in 2008 was fair and open every step of the way. All of the finalist candidates were interviewed in public televised sessions. By the way, Mr. Miles must have dementia; he voted for Spencer Mullin for Superintendent along with the rest of the Committee. It was a unanimous vote. Now, Mr. Miles wants to rewrite history when it suits him. The fact remains that Mike Miles and Matt Sheehan (along with Bonnie Elie) drove Superintendent Mullin out. The Lowell Sun reported on November 22, 2009: “About a week before he gave the School Committee his [retirement] notice, Mullin was still looking to renegotiate his current contract.” What happened, Mike and Matt? I think you owe the public an explanation. Maybe Superintendent Mullin would not engage in the political nepotism that Mike Miles et. al are all about!
Let’s examine the process that has been followed thus far in filling the position of Interim Superintendent. On November 4th, Superintendent Mullin sent notice of his intentions to retire effective March 3, 2010.
Shortly afterwards, the Dracut School Committee voted to advertise the position of Interim Superintendent for the remainder of the School Year from March until July, which is when they hope to have a replacement Superintendent on board. This part makes sense.
What does not make sense however is to spend $5,000 in taxpayer money to advertise the position of Interim Superintendent and then before the application’s postmarked deadline of December 18th has passed for Chairman Matt Sheehan to appear on Warren Shaw’s radio program on December 12th and state, “I’d love for Elaine Espindle to come back.
If Mrs Espindle wants to be the interim superintendent I am sure she will be the interim superintendent.”
According to Roberts Rules of Order, the Chair is the official spokesman of the committee. When Mr. Sheehan went on Warren’s show, Mr. Sheehan did not state ahead of time that he was speaking for himself personally. This is most certainly unethical and probably violates the Open Meeting Law. On another note, the advertisement for Interim Superintendent called for a “Minimum of a Master’s Degree from an accredited College or University required; Doctorate Degree preferred.” There were 11 applicants for the position of Interim Superintendent.
The Gang of Three (Miles, Sheehan, and Elie) voted against a motion to interview some or all of the applicants. At least four of the applicants had doctoral degrees and prior experience as superintendents in other Districts. Mrs. Espindle does not have a doctoral degree.
Do you call this a fair and open process? It sounds like a bag job to me.
Public interviews should have been conducted and if Mrs. Espindle was the most qualified then she should have been hired. This process was skewed from Day 1.
Then again, The Lowell Sun and Warren Shaw had been advocating on behalf of Espindle from the very beginning. If the previous school committee that I served on had followed a process like this, we would have been criticized and torn apart by the media and rightfully so.
Warren Shaw criticized the fair and open process that we followed in hiring Spencer Mullin, but not a word of criticism is uttered by him now because the person he supported for Interim Superintendent was given the position.
Clearly a double-standard exists here and the public will be made to see it as it continues to unfold!
There are many more issues that I could address, but space here and time will not permit me to do so. Mike Miles, Warren Shaw et. al. continue to attack me personally, but that is the oldest trick in the book.
Forget the personal attacks, let’s discuss the real issues.
I challenge Mike Miles, Warren Shaw, Matt Sheehan, Bonnie Elie, and anyone else to dispute any fact I have written in my last VALLEY PATRIOT column or any other. I will happily appear on Tom Duggan’s Paying Attention Radio Program (Sat. 10-1pm on WCAP) to debate anyone. By the way, there will be more coming. I am watching!!
D.J. Deeb is a member of the Town of Dracut Committee on Government Rules and Regulations. He served as a member of the Dracut School Committee from 2005-2008 and the Greater Lowell Regional Voc-Tech School Committee from 1997-2009. Deeb is an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He teaches Social Studies full-time at Reading Memorial High School.