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Peterson taking early retirement from Hannaford Career Center

“It has become clear that my role has turned into a distraction within the district, and that people are not focusing all of their attention on what needs to change and be done within the (Hannaford Career Center) in order to do a better job of educating students and meeting their needs.”
— Dana Peterson

DANA PETERSON

MIDDLEBURY — The superintendent of the Patricia Hannaford Career Center has given notice that he will leave the Middlebury vocational and technical school.

Saying that he fears his role as leader of the Career Center has “turned into a distraction” and that “people are not focusing all of their attention on what needs to change and be done within the district in order to do a better job of educating students and meeting their needs,” Dana Peterson has elected to retire from his job at the end of this academic year — a year sooner than he had hoped.

“By making this announcement now, the district will have time to find a new superintendent, and I am hopeful that my critics will cease making me a distraction from all of the good things going on here at PHCC,” he continued in his resignation statement, released today, Friday, Feb. 11.

The Career Center board has accepted Peterson’s resignation, according to the panel’s chair, Suzanne Buck.

Peterson came to the Career Center as interim superintendent in the summer of 2017, when he signed a two-year contract. The board eventually extended his stay, removing the interim moniker. Previously Peterson served as top administrator at Woodstock Union Middle School (1999-2017) and as assistant principal (1998-1999) and French teacher (1990-1999) at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Rutland.

Addison County’s career & technical education center serves students living in the 17 towns that comprise the Addison Central, Addison Northwest and Mount Abraham Unified school districts. It has seen a recent uptick in enrollment, and Peterson has helped establish a makers’ space — or “makery” — at the PHCC. He’s also shepherding an $8.1 million renovation plan that will be put to voters on March 1.

His leadership has come under fire from several former Career Center employees who allege they were mistreated and verbally abused, to the extent they resigned — in the case of one employee, after only two weeks on the job. Those complaints were detailed in a Dec. 23 article in the Addison Independent. Peterson at the time declined comment on the matter, saying he would allow a school board statement to speak for the situation.

That board statement read:

“The PHCC board takes very seriously all comments from the community and staff. However, when the comments pertain to a personnel matter we cannot discuss them for that very reason. The Board has systematically investigated, with the assistance of legal counsel and special investigators, all allegations by staff and the union of recent abuse. Since these have mainly involved personnel issues the results of these investigations have had to remain confidential. Matters under current investigation have not yet been concluded and the board is still waiting on counsel’s recommendations.”

The Independent is seeking an interview with Peterson prior to his departure.

Here is Peterson’s complete retirement statement:

“I love my work and I have found my job rewarding here at PHCC as Superintendent.

I have greatly enjoyed working with the Patricia Hannaford Regional Technical School District and its board.

I am very appreciative of the support that I have received from Board members, and I want to continue to support the board in the good work here at the career center. I want what is best for the District and its students, and that has always been my focus.

It has become clear that my role has turned into a distraction within the District, and that people are not focusing all of their attention on what needs to change and be done within the District in order to do a better job of educating students and meeting their needs. Although this is not what I expected, and it is earlier than I had planned, I have decided that it is in the best interest of the district for me to retire at the end of this school year and not continue my contract with the District through June 30, 2023.

I am officially submitting my request to accept my announcement of retirement for consideration by the board.

By making this announcement now, the District will have time to find a new superintendent, and I am hopeful that my critics will cease making me a distraction from all of the good things going on here at PHCC.

Hopefully, everyone can now focus on, and work toward, getting our budget and capital project financing passed in March.

I am proud of what we have accomplished during my tenure here as the Career Center’s Superintendent. I hope that we can cap off my work with successful votes in March and begin all of the necessary steps to move forward with the plans that the District has to improve services to the students of Addison County. Submitted with the utmost appreciation and respect.”

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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