Cavendish Elementary parents petition SU to delay Beaupre contract renewal

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Nearly six dozen parents of Cavendish Town Elementary School students and other interested community members have signed a petition of no confidence in Principal Deb Beaupre, asking that the Two Rivers Supervisory Union “hold up her contract renewal” and “open an investigation into the communities (sic) concerns.”

Debra Beaupre at a recent GMUSD meeting at Cavendish Elementary Photos by Shawn Cunningham

But there is some confusion around whether Beaupre’s contract for next year has already been renewed and whether or not a performance review was conducted.

The parents’ concerns stem from what they say are a number of instances of discipline that they call unusual and even abusive and one incident involving a Cavendish school bus in which the complainants have called the actions of the principal dangerous and illegal.

Among petition signers who The Telegraph has interviewed, a number of parents said they have felt that Beaupre’s style of discipline doesn’t match what they have come to expect from the Cavendish school. Intimidation was a word that came up frequently.

In the bus incident, parent Amy Davis said that during the morning bus ride on Wednesday, March 13 the bus was stopped on Main Street just east of High Street with its flashing lights on to pick up children. Beaupre, who was driving behind the bus, passed it and stopped in front of the bus, boarding the vehicle to lecture the students about moving around on the bus while it was in motion.

Davis maintains that her children – who were on the bus – said no one was moving around. In an email to TRSU Superintendent Meg Powden on Thursday, March 14, Davis said she emailed Beaupre as soon as she heard about the incident. Beaupre replied, Davis told Powden, that they may not agree, but that she felt what she had done was right.

Davis said she also contacted the bus driver as well as Todd Parah, transportation supervisor for the three schools within the Green Mountain Unified School District, about the incident before emailing Powden and the board.

According to Michelle Messina, who organized the petition drive, she filed a report on the incident with the Vermont State Police on Saturday, April 13.

The Telegraph unsuccessfully searched for a home phone number to contact Beaupre for comment, including asking a number of people connected with the school. On Tuesday, since school is not in session this week, The Telegraph asked the supervisory union if it would contact Beaupre to ask her to call so that she would have an opportunity to comment. Also, The Telegraph sent an email to Beaupre’s work address this morning. As of publication time, Beaupre has not contacted The Telegraph.

Renewed contract, or not?

In March, Doug McBride, who represents Cavendish on the GMUSD board, said he began getting calls and emails from parents asking to have input into the evaluation process before TRSU renewed Beaupre’s contract.

According to McBride, last week he contacted Powden about the process and timetable, to which she replied that the board had offered Beaupre a contract (with the 2.75 percent raise that is standard for all but a few of the non-bargaining staff.)

Powden, McBride said, told him he could share that information with the parents with whom he was in touch. But McBride questioned whether the board had actually approved the contract. McBride had been on a airplane during that meeting and had not been able to participate by phone. But McBride said several other board members told him that the contract had not been approved in the executive session on non-bargaining staff.

Powden’s response to an inquiry by board chair Joe Fromberger was that she might have been mistaken about the vote and that she would need to check the minutes. Those minutes do not mention offering a contract to Beaupre or anyone else.

Asked for comment on the petition and the parents’ complaints,  Powden said on Tuesday that she would not speak about the petition, but restated the process for complaints: “If someone has a concern with a member of the staff, the process is to talk with that person and if you’re not satisfied with the result then to follow the chain of command,” said Powden.

If parents were actually subject to such a “chain of command,” that would mean speaking with Beaupre, then with Powden. Several parents told The Telegraph that they have done that and that some have also contacted the superintendent.

A number of those signing the petition say they will be on hand for the April 25 meeting of the Green Mountain Unified School District. That meeting will take place at the 6 p.m. at Cavendish Town Elementary School, 573 Main St. in Proctorsville.

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  1. Dan Tyrrell says:

    It was not long ago that I didn’t attend school board meetings, then my concerns led me to go and address said concerns and question the board members and administration. One thing I have learned by doing this, is that often the “public” is not there. Leaving our school board with only their personal knowledge and the administration to help them navigate important decisions.

    The times I have attended, the school board and administration have been nothing but professional and cordial. I highly recommend more people attend and implore anyone with concerns to address the board and administrators in person. I know other people have attended before, and I appreciate that. Our elected officials can only represent our concerns if we communicate it to them, so if you can’t attend a meeting please reach out to a school board member or someone in the administration. (Again, I appreciate those who do and have already.)

    I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, because if you are concerned enough to read this article and add a comment, then you are probably already planning to attend the meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing more faces from the community there.

  2. Sherry McCabe says:

    As a parent, community and in full support of above said petition, I would like to say a few things that didn’t seem to be approached.

    The petition itself was never intended for the community to be divided, get anyone fired or even to have individuals take sides. The mentioned contract needed to be postponed due to concerns and issues that were not being addressed by the school and board members.

    Community members and parents also did not/does not support the principal on her approach to discipline, nor were they supportive of her actions during the “bus incident.” However addressing those issues with her seemed to be taken lightly or not addressed at all.

    Furthermore things are just not adding up within the school board itself. They have an image of not being transparent within their policies, and also having complaints within their own members.

    We all want the same thing. A positive Leader for our school, and a positive way forward.

  3. Samantha Foster Osier says:

    – I want to know why the school board is being left out…of important decisions! That is not good!
    – I want to know why it’s “ok” for her to make any illegal move that puts our communities children & others safety at risk.

    – I am upset this is tearing our community apart when there are people with FACTS being shamed for coming forward who need support from our community.

    I love this community because it’s always been supportive environment until this school year. That’s one that represents how I feel. I feel once we were one family but now we are divided. We should all support one another no matter what our experience of this is or how we feel about this situation.
    We need to help each other, figure this out, move forward as Cavendish residents. Our community has been set apart from others because it is a loving supportive community & needs to remain that way.

  4. Michelle Messina says:

    My 8 year old little girl waits at that bus stop where this took place and has to cross the road in front of the bus in order to get onto that bus safely. If she had been crossing the street that day, she would have most likely gotten hit resulting in permanent injuries or death. I’m not okay with people in our community who can justify something like this, It tells me that my child’s life doesn’t matter to them. A PRINCIPAL of our school broke the law and endangered our children just to reprimand them, when she could have waited until the bus was safely at the school only three miles down the road.

  5. Mary E Alberty says:

    I am 100% confident in Principal Beaupre and fully support her style at our school. As a parent I would want all school staff including the principal to call out unacceptable behavior whether that behavior is at school, on a bus or in the community and am astonished that parents would try to get an individual fired for holding their children accountable for poor behaviors…

    Editor’s Note: The Mary Alberty making this comment is not the Mary Alberty who sits on the Ludlow Mount Holly School District and the Two Rivers Supervisory Union boards.

  6. Deborah Costa says:

    I think that before the town “throws this principal under the bus”-forgive the term, they should further investigate. From my observations, we need some stronger, different kind of discipline in schools. I’ve heard horror stories from teachers about unruly students and the parents that unfortunately stand by these children.

  7. Denise Hughes says:

    It would have been great to also include all the parents and community members who DO support Deb and believe her style is exactly what the school needs. I read a lot of opinion (and feelings) in this article. I support Deb. If my child were on the bus I would have wanted Deb to do exactly what she did.