The APEA wishes Dr. Michael Morris well as he takes time off from his Superintendent position. We support Dr. Morris taking steps in order to be healthy. ALL staff and students deserve to work and learn in a school environment in which their mental health needs are respected. Unfortunately, for many staff and students, this has not been the case for several years in the district. Problems have been allowed to fester under his and Assistant Superintendent Doreen Cunningham’s leadership. Superintendent Morris’ decision to go on leave occurred as educators in the district voted overwhelmingly this week that they have no confidence in the leadership of both the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. [see below]
The School Committee has been inattentive as it failed, as a body, to hold district leadership accountable for many staff and student complaints. One school committee member went as far as to refer to staff as a “toxic rumor mill” during a School Committee meeting for speaking up to protect our students. The staff at the Middle School are still waiting for an apology from this school committee official.
Our district needs change, our students need change, and our educators need change. The no confidence vote urges the ARPS School Committee to investigate Michael Morris and seek the resignation of Doreen Cunningham.
sent on 5/13/23
Dear Members of the Amherst Regional School Committee,
We are writing as concerned staff members to express our lack of confidence in our district leadership. In this letter, we outline some of the issues we have observed in the actions of Dr. Mike Morris, Superintendent, and Ms. Doreen Cunningham, Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity and Human Resources.
We understand that the School Committee has a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of all staff members and students, and we trust that you will take appropriate action to address these issues.
We express our loss of confidence in district leadership for these reasons:
○ Failure to properly supervise the district offices and people in his employ, especially the supervision of Ms. Cunningham.
○ Failure to promptly deal with complaints of anti-LGBTQIA+ behavior on the part of some staff, which has created an unsafe environment for children, especially those whose identities are marginalized.
○ Failure to collaborate with staff in planning how to support positive leadership in our schools.
○ Unethical hiring practices.
○ Use of position of professional power to enrich self on school time.
○ Acting in ways that undermine the district’s stated mission of equity and excellence.
○ Unsafe environment, where people do not come forward out of fear.
○ Toxic work environment that stifles open communication and collaboration.
- Harm students.
- Have led to a decline in employee engagement and motivation.
- Have a negative effect on our district’s ability to promote and maintain an environment that supports our mission of equity and excellence.
- Create toxic work conditions where staff well-being is declining.
We call for the immediate resignation of Ms. Doreen Cunningham. In addition, we call for an investigation into the leadership of Dr. Mike Morris. To aid in this investigation, you should know that all of these assertions are verifiable; each one has someone willing to come forward and attest to their veracity.
We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to working with you to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for all at Amherst Regional Public Schools.
Members of the APEA
(an overwhelming majority of members through the district signed)