Central Falls school leaders “under review”
State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says her office is reviewing claims of financial mismanagement and poor leadership at the Central Falls School Department. In a written statement, Gist says state officials are in regular contact with Central Falls and she is confident in their oversight.
“Our goal is to ensure that the district and school leaders in Central Falls have followed proper procedures and to offer support and technical assistance to the district,” Gist writes. “I am satisfied with the information I have received from the district leadership, and we will continue to keep these matters under review.”
Gist says a recent audit of the state-funded school district showed only minor problems, which she believes district officials are addressing. Gist attributes ongoing reports of unsafe student behavior and mismanagement to efforts to bring change to the city’s troubled schools.
“It is not surprising that, during a time of transformation when people face major changes in practices that had been ongoing for many years, there will be some discontent, disruption, and even pushback aimed at slowing the pace of reform,” Gist writes, adding that she hopes everyone will “put aside their differences, avoid the blaming, and work together in the best interest of those who need their help most urgently: the students of Central Falls.”
Reports of ongoing problems at Central Falls High School have dogged district officials since they fired then rehired the entire faculty. The dispute followed a disagreement with teachers’ union leaders over plans for a major high school overhaul.
Teachers’ union officials say the atmosphere in Central Falls schools is extremely negative, while district officials point to a spike in teacher absenteeism as one of the reasons for ongoing behavior issues in some schools this year.