Superintendent says evaluation was “mean-spirited, personal attack”

Dec 23, 2019

Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood read a scathing rebuttal to her recent evaluation by the School Committee, calling it a “mean-spirited personal attack.”

In response to allegations that her leadership style had driven away staff, Shaver-Hood cited a positive review she received from an outside investigator and argued that the committee did not have evidence to back up its claim.

The School Committee reviews her performance each year through written evaluations and a numerical “grade” on a scale of 0 to 100. This year, Shaver-Hood was given an average of 76.83, putting her in the “needs improvement” category, which means she will not see an increase to her current $166,416 salary.

At the Nov. 15 meeting, School Committee Chair Mike Flaherty read excerpts from each committee member’s evaluation, and gave them time to speak. 

“Unfortunately, all the initiatives that the superintendent has put in the district have not encouraged students to stay, and many of these initiatives are not accessible to average or struggling students,” wrote one committee member. “I do believe that the superintendent has good intentions for the students. However, it has not produced the student drive that I would have hoped to see.”

Committee member Mary Morgan expressed concern with the superintendent’s style of management, saying that many school employees have left the district because of a hostile environment and overwhelming amount of work.

“I do believe the superintendent has good intentions for students,” Morgan repeated from her evaluation. “I also fully disagree with her leadership style, and I believe we have lost a lot of good people because of it.”

“Four people have left the business office since last year. One resigned and three were terminated,” she said. “One of these employees has been with the district for over 20 years. . . There have been five Middle School principals, three Decas principals, three special education directors, two transportation directors, four food service directors, one of whom resigned mid-year.”

At the Dec. 19 meeting, Shaver-Hood began her rebuttal by reading extensively from a report made on the district by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education written in 2012 before she became Superintendent. The report listed numerous problems in the district, including funding issues, the abilities of leadership, curriculum weaknesses, and poor instruction.

She then began to quote from Massachusetts law describing the purpose and structure of Superintendent assessments, and emphasized that the evaluation should be based on evidence and data.

She then quoted some of the evaluations, including the first included in this article, and said there was no evidence to support them. 

“There’s been no evidence that promotes fearful pleas from WPS personnel. These quotes are referring to a personnel issue that occurred and was independently investigated and found, and I quote, ‘Dr. Shaver-Hood has high expectations for her staff and appears to have a no-nonsense managerial style. Dr. Shaver-Hood is generally credited with maintaining a professional demeanor at all times, never raising her voice, and approaching difficult issues carefully. Her managerial style may not suit everyone, particularly those who do not meet expectations. For purposes of this report, suffice to say, I found the allegations of unlawful conduct and policy violations against Dr. Shaver-Hood to be unsubstantiated,’” Shaver-Hood said, quoting from a report by John Nolan, Esq., who investigated the incident. 

Shaver-Hood re-emphasized that evidence is mandated for these evaluations, and said that no evidence was provided. She also said that if committee members were approached by staff members, they should have included information about the conversations, including the staff member’s names and the dates of the conversations.  

“It’s my belief that there’s always multiple sides to every situation,” Shaver-Hood said. “Never once has a member asked about a situation or provided me with the professional respect to share my side.”

Shaver-Hood then quoted extensively from the state’s evaluation from last year, which listed numerous improvements in the district.

“Under my leadership, the district has overcome significant barriers as demonstrated by the overwhelming evidence

“The evaluation was a mean-spirited, personal attack on my character, which ignored my accomplishments which have occurred within the district,” Shaver-Hood said, adding that “students are beginning to enter a world of opportunity that they never imagined.”

No members of the School Committee responded to her rebuttal.

To read a redacted copy of Shaver-Hood’s evaluation, click here.