DiNapoli assumes lead at ANeSU after Superintendent Adams goes on leave
BRISTOL — The superintendent of the Bristol-area school district, David Adams, has gone on leave, and the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union school board has named Assistant Superintendent Catrina DiNapoli to take over his duties while an “acting superintendent” is found.
Adams has drawn fire in the past seven months as voters rejected budget proposals for three of the district’s six schools, the teachers’ union voted no confidence in his leadership and a petition signed by 500 people asked for his resignation.
After a Monday evening executive session that lasted an hour and a half — ending just shy of 11 p.m. — the ANeSU board voted to reassign all superintendent’s duties to DiNapoli, effective immediately, and to begin a search for an acting superintendent, to come on board “as soon as is reasonably possible.” Both votes passed unanimously; board member Bonita Bedard of Starksboro abstained on both counts.
“David Adams has been and continues to be on FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) leave,” ANeSU Board Chair Dawn Griswold wrote in an email to the Independent and in a statement on the ANeSU website. “These actions will allow the supervisory union and its member district to move forward with the challenging work they face.”
She did not respond to a question about when Adams went on leave. Other board members declined to directly answer questions from the press. DiNapoli referred questions to the board.
Adams himself did not respond to attempts to reach him by both phone and email. His contract expires next June.
A federal mediator last month recommended that Superintendent Adams and the teachers in the Bristol-area schools take part in training to warm up the cool relationship between the parties.
The ANeSU Executive Committee called in the mediator after a series of events last spring demonstrated deep rifts in teacher and parent confidence in Adams and deep rifts community-wide over budget and communication issues.
At its Sept. 22 meeting, the ANeSU board voted to approve the Executive Committee’s recommendation to move ahead with the more intensive “relationship by objective” option. The training would bring union representatives, administrators and board members together for two to three days off site and involve direct facilitation from the federal mediator. The board voted to have the Executive Committee work out the details of the RBO training in collaboration with ANEDA, the Addison Northeast Education Association, which represents staff and teachers.
Educator and support staff contract negotiations, which began in February, are still under way. Contracts expired this past June.
On behalf of the teachers union, ANEDA President Mikaela Frank commended the board’s decisions.
“We commend the boards for their hard work and applaud their addressing the issues we brought to their attention in the spring,” she said in a statement. “We pledge our continued support of their efforts to make Addison Northeast Supervisory Union an even better place to work, to teach and to learn.”
Lincoln resident Mike Fisher and six other residents of the five ANeSU towns last summer organized the Friends of the Five Town Schools, a new group committed to creating vibrant schools in the Bristol area.
When reached for comment on Tuesday, he remarked on the pride and passion community members expressed about their schools at a community forum that the group held Sept. 21, and he hoped that passion could be positively directed going forward.
“The district desperately needs a leader who will engage with the community and move the school community towards a healing process,” Fisher said.
SEE ALSO: ANeSU moves forward on Act 46 district consolidation planning
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at [email protected].