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School Committee Hears Concerns Over Abbot Incidents

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Here’s our overview of the key points from the March 23, 2015 Westford School Committee meeting. For a full video of the meeting, head to westfordcat.org. The meeting began at approximately 7:30 p.m., we’ll note times here to facilitate your use of the video. 

Parents Share Concerns Over Recent Abbot School Events

Starting at approximately 7:45, several parents with students at the Abbot School shared their concerns over recent events and what they perceive as a general culture of miscommunication.

School Committee member Terrance Ryan was not present, but at approximately 7:50, he urged the crowd to help fix problems with a positive outlook, praising work done by staff in difficult circumstances like flooding, cold temperatures and air conditioner malfunctions.

A distraught parent testifies to the School Committee.
A distraught parent testifies to the School Committee.

An Abbot School teacher came to the microphone at approximately 8:00 p.m. asking for the support of parents and several parents applauded her comments, with others saying that concerns were with a substitute mentioned in a letter sent out on Tuesday, not full-time teachers.

In the letter, administration alleges that the substitute teacher “jokingly” stuffed paper towels down a student’s mouth and licked pieces of candy and asked students to eat them after those students licked a cookie belonging to another student.

At approximately 8:20, a parent who had children in the classroom came forward asking that they receive an apology and that the letter was inaccurate.

Another parent expressed concerns that it came home with students not in an envelope.

Superintendent Bill Olsen told parents that the letter was written quickly on Friday afternoon after the incidents were discovered to ensure parents were aware of what had been learned.

Olsen told the assembled crowd that he had complete confidence in the Abbot staff, but that he should be held accountable for what happened and that tangible steps will be made to improve communication efforts between the school and parents.

Kindergarten Discussion Will Resume With New Board

The issue of Full-Day Kindergarten one last time at approximately 8:40, with Ken Miers presenting an additional handout.

Miers was a member of the committee investigating the issue, but he presented his handout on his own behalf and not on behalf of the entire committee.

Discussion was limited, as it was agreed that the School Committee that assembles after town elections in May should discuss the matter rather than any outgoing members.

The first page of a handout from Ken Miers at the March 23, 2015 School Committee meeting. Other pages were taken from earlyeducationforall.org
The first page of a handout from Ken Miers at the March 23, 2015 School Committee meeting. Other pages were taken from earlyeducationforall.org

STEM Kids Steal The Show With Rubik’s Robot

There were several positive announcements from the meeting ranging from praise for a student that achieved a perfect AP Exam score to news of the Westford Academy cheerleading team winning a competition in Orlando.

However, when it comes to pure showmanship, the audience was enthralled with a presentation by Day School students Suryaa Rajinikanth and Veer Shah.

The pair built a robot that can solve a Rubik’s Cube puzzle and then experimented

Solved it!
Solved it!

whether or not they could solve the Rubik’s Cube faster with a set of algorithms.

This presentation was an exhibit at the recent Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, Fair that occurred recently at several schools across town.

Editor’s note: WestfordCAT News has decided to redact the name of the teacher out on maternity leave from the letter for privacy concerns. 

Correction: Fremault’s name was initially spelled incorrectly. We apologize for the error. 

Update: Miers spoke on his own behalf, not on behalf of the committee. 

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