ACSU delays action on Willey

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) board on Wednesday chose not to take action on Associate Superintendent Janice Willey’s letter of resignation and instead ordered a study of the working climate in the district office.
The ACSU board reached that decision after a lengthy executive session during which members discussed Willey’s letter, which she submitted this past Dec. 14. Willey had cited a sudden change in her duties — allegedly without her input — as the reason for her decision to step down this June after 14 years as associate superintendent.
Willey’s tasks have included oversight over curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development in all schools in the ACSU, which includes Middlebury Union middle and high school, and the elementary schools in Bridport, Cornwall, Salisbury, Weybridge, Shoreham, Ripton and Middlebury.
In December, Willey said she was informed by ACSU Superintendent Lee Sease that she would need to devote 100 percent of her time working with MUHS and MUMS officials on a series of education improvement requests petitioned by a citizens’ group in early October.
Willey explained she has preferred to work on a district-wide basis.
Around 20 district educators turned out at last Wednesday’s meeting to lend their support to Willey and hear a talk by Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca (see related story, Page 1).
“Her abrupt removal from the K-8 administrative team has already begin to erode a carefully constructed and maintained collaborative process that we are finding very hard to sustain without her leadership,” Weybridge Elementary School Principal Christina Johnston said of Willey.
Johnston urged the ACSU board to find a way to retain Willey in her current spot.
Inga Duktig, principal of MUMS for 11 years, also stressed Willey’s importance to the district and its students.
“Over the years, I have come to realize that much of the excellence that we have here, you can trace the thread and find that it is connected in some way to Jan Willey,” Duktig said.
“What I am concerned about is that we are, if not in a serious state of disarray as a supervisory union, I think we are very close to it,” Duktig added of the ramifications of Willey’s decision to resign.
After hearing public comments, the ACSU board discussed Willey’s resignation letter for around two hours behind closed doors. When the board reconvened in public session, it voted to table a motion to accept Willey’s resignation and agreed to bring in a “third party” in to look at the climate in the ACSU office.
Willey, in an e-mail exchange on Thursday, declined to comment on the ACSU’s action and on the current status of her resignation.
Efforts to reach ACSU board Chairwoman Carol Ford were unsuccessful as the Addison Independent went to press on Friday.
John Flowers is at [email protected].

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