The Sharon School Committee has placed Superintendent Victoria Greer on administrative leave and won't renew her contract for next year, the committee confirmed Wednesday evening, hours after Greer announced it.
Greer, who is African American, told NBC10 Boston that she filed a charge against the school committee with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, alleging that she'd been subjected to racial discrimination by members of the committee.
"I am deeply concerned that the actions of the School Committee, including the decisions not to renew my contract and to place me on administrative leave, have been and motivated by discrimination and retaliation for raising concerns of race discrimination," Greer said in a Tuesday email to the committee she shared with NBC10 Boston.
News of the superintendent's removal from her post prompted a rally from parents supportive of Greer Wednesday afternoon. It also comes amid a protracted and public battle between the Sharon Teachers Association and the school committee over how to safely restart the school year. Students were returning to class Wednesday as part of the town’s hybrid learning plan.
Sharon School Committee Chair Judy Crosby announced Monday that the board wouldn't renew Greer's contract, which expires in June 2021. Crosby did not say why and declined further comment.
But the committee released a statement after holding a meeting Wednesday evening. Thanking staff and members of the community, the committee noted the last weeks and months have "been a time of changes."
It clarified that Marcy Kaplan was the head of the committee when it voted, in an executive session, on July 8 not to renew Greer's contract. The vote to put her on leave from Sept. 18 through the end of her contract, on June 30, was taken on Monday, the committee said. The statement did not explain what prompted the committee to take either vote.
"We look forward to working with the assistant superintendent and the entire administrative team to ensure a continuity in school leadership. We will keep the community informed as circumstances require," the committee wrote.
In Greer's complaint, she says that Crosby is one of two committee members who particularly subjected her to discrimination. Along with "demeaning and racist comments," Greer said she'd been subjected to "abusive and disparate treatment, and unjustified and highly subjective attacks regarding my performance."
At a quickly organized rally in Sharon Wednesday afternoon, Lori Bihler said she saw the move from the committee coming.
"We saw the pattern of mistreatment, which is textbook for Black women in education. They get picked apart, they get needled, they get badgered, they get minutiae critiqued and then they end up losing their jobs," said Bihler, who is part of Sharon Racial Equity Alliance.
A larger rally in support of Greer is planned for Friday, adding to what's already been a tumultuous start to the school year.
Dozens of concerned teachers had protested outside Sharon Town Hall Monday, arguing that they don’t feel safe inside their own classrooms and accusing the school district of not being prepared to operate safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers were refusing report to work in a push for remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, a move that drew sharp criticism from Crosby, who called the act an “illegal strike.”
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The union agreed to comply with the district’s decision to begin classes under a hybrid learning model, in which students are split into groups with half attending class in-person for two days and remote for two days. Wednesday of each week will be remote learning for all students.
Sharon’s five schools reopened on Wednesday, with teachers offering remote learning sessions online. The first day of in-person classes is set for Thursday, when some students will return.