Lest anyone doubt that Housatonic Valley Regional High School Principal Matt Harnett’s recent resignation had anything to do with the political climate in Region One, read excerpts of his resignation letter to Board Chairman Jonathan Moore, as reported (paywall) by the Republican American:
“Over the past several months a series of events have caused me to re-evaluate and reconsider my personal and professional goals. The past two years have been very challenging and rewarding. However, the current political climate and the tension that exists in the relationship between the administration and some members of the school board and the community have led me to this decision.
“Unfortunately, there have been too many occasions in the last two years where I have felt that some members of the board and the community has had little understanding or respect for what is taking place at the high school and the work that we do here.”
I understand where Harnett’s coming from. I once worked at a private school here in Connecticut. By my sixth year at the school, I had become head of the English Department, director of professional development, a member of the curriculum committee and chair of the panel that decided the fate of students involved in serious disciplinary infractions. In other words, I was becoming an increasingly important administrator at the school.
That fall, I was approached by a board member asking if I would be willing to meet with a group of other trustees to talk about the school without any other administrators present. At that point, I knew the headmaster who hired me was in serious jeopardy of losing his job. So I started looking for employment almost immediately, did not find anything suitable and so stayed on for the next year to work for the new head. Then in March I was informed by the new head that, along with several other administrators and teachers, my contract would not be renewed for the following year.
Harnett had to know that the days of the superintendent and her assistant were numbered and that the board was poised for significant change as well. In other words, the people who hired him wouldn’t be around any longer to protect him, so he jumped ship. Sound familiar? It sure does to me.
I do think the Region One BOE is making the right decision in appointing Assistant Principal Ian Strever as interim principal. From what I hear, Strever is very capable and has the respect of both the students and the faculty. His appointment also injects a measure of stability into a chaotic situation.
Update: View the entire letter by clicking on the image below.