School Committee Meeting Summary

June 30, 2020

Per Governor Baker's order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c.30A sec. 20, the public is not be allowed to physically access this School Committee meeting. Members of the Public will be able to view this meeting on Walpole Media Cable Access the following day. Citizens with a question or comment should email We will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

All votes taken by the School Committee in a remote participation meeting are done via roll call.

School Committee Reorganization

As is tradition after Walpole Town elections, the Superintendent of Schools opens the meeting and starts with the business of School Committee reorganization. The Superintendent asked for nominations for a Chairperson for the 2020-2021 School Year. Mrs. Nancy Galllivan was nominated by Mr. Buckley and was unanimously voted as Chairperson for the 2020-2021 School Year.

The Superintendent then entertained nominations for Vice Chair of the Committee for the 2020-2021 School Year. Mr. Bill Buckley was unanimously voted as Vice Chairperson.

Moment of Silence

The Committee held a moment of silence on the passing of Mr. Bill Powers and the passing of Deacon Mike Iwanowicz. Mr. Powers and Deacon Iwanowicz both had previously served as members of the School Committee. The School Committee extends its condolences to the families and friends of these gentlemen.

Welcome New Member/Thank you Former Member

Mrs. Gallivan thanked Mr. Buckley for the tremendous amount of leadership he has provided to the School Committee. Mrs. Gallivan further thanked former member Beth Muccini for all of her contributions. All of the work Ms. Muccini has contributed is greatly appreciated.

The School Committee welcomed new member Sean Ahern. The School Committee hopes Mr. Ahern finds this tremendous responsibility as fulfilling as they have. Mr. Ahern indicated it is quite an honor for him and he is looking forward to working with everyone.

New Business

Subcommittee Assignments
- A 2020-2021 draft Subcommittee assignment list was provided to the School Committee for review. The School Committee was asked to review the list, take note of current assignments and vacancies and consider if they would like to change out of a subcommittee and/or into a new subcommittee. These assignments will be discussed at a future meeting.

Follow Up to Change of Rebel Name - The School Committee discussed the Commission to be established for the purpose of choosing a new name to replace the Rebel name. This endeavor will be undertaken at Walpole High School, spearheaded by Principal Stephen Imbusch and Athletic Director Ron Dowd. An application form is available here for members to apply. The School Committee indicated it plans to meet with Booster organizations to look into fundraising for costs to be incurred. Participants who have a connection to Walpole High School are encouraged to be involved in this process. The School Committee will get regular updates on this Commission and will report these updates at future meetings.

Superintendent Report

Dr. Gough provided updated information regarding the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s initial guidance about opening schools this fall. The district will be reviewing the guidance to understand how it impacts what we can do in WPS. We also acknowledge that these initial guidelines do not address every topic and that there will be additional guidance coming throughout the summer. Some key components:

  • Current medical research supports a safe in-person return to school - with preventive measures in place - as infection and transmission rates are lower for children than adults.
  • Preventive measures include masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces
  • Masks/face coverings will be required for all students in Grade 2 and above and for all adults; they are recommended for students in Grade 1 and below
  • Based on current medical research, and in conjunction with other preventive measures, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established. - (seat edge to seat edge)

Districts will be required to develop three separate plans ranging from students returning to full in-person instruction with safety requirements, one for hybrid learning model that combines in-person and remote learning, and one for full remote learning. Based upon the current medical situation, the expectation today emphasizes students returning to full in-person instruction as the primary objective; however, that is subject to change based upon how the medical situation develops.

Last week, families were asked to complete a survey. Please check your emails as it is important that families complete this initial survey. There will be additional surveys to follow.

Dr. Gough and Mr. Hahn provided a follow up statement regarding their past letter to the Walpole educational community sharing our support for those who confront bigotry and fight for equality and recognizing that as a school system, we can do better. The letter detailed commitment to assessing our own cultural knowledge, valuing diversity through the inclusive practice of all people and cultures, managing the dynamics of difference by including multiple perspectives and teaching others about the dynamics of cultural interactions, and institutionalizing cultural knowledge through our daily practice and policies. Since that time, they have heard students, families, and the broader community express strong interest to ensure that we follow through with our commitment to actively identify and challenge individual or systemic acts of racism within our schools. We know that we must shift and expand our work from celebrating diversity and inclusion to more actively becoming an organization that is committed to anti-racism, equity, and social justice.

While recognizing that being in the midst of a pandemic puts some constraints on what we can pursue in the short term, Dr. Gough and Mr. Hahn communicated actions taken, and will take, as we transition to the fall reopening. Their hope in sharing the information with the School Committee is to recognize the importance of transparency with this work and to welcome continued input from our community. Items included:

  • Leadership goal that includes professional development for all school leadership and representatives from every school to be further trained in anti-racism, equity, and social justice throughout next school year.
  • Educational leaders will participate in an introduction to courageous conversation training this summer with the Courageous Conversation Academy, which guides an exploration of the life impact of race, and promotes an essential literacy and consciousness to examine our personal, professional, and organizational ways of being.
  • All K-5 literacy purchases done this spring and summer to support the Lucy Calkins curriculum that is implemented at all elementary schools was done deliberately to represent our diverse student population and diverse readers.
  • Continued evaluation of our curriculum K-12 to ensure that it reflects equitable resources, materials, and pedagogy.
  • Development of an anonymous reporting system to allow us to better collect information about incidents of bias, including microaggressions, discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as an important first-step to creating a more open dialogue with our students, staff, and community around the issues students and staff experience in our schools.
  • Re-examination of WPS Strategic Plan to ensure it aligns with leadership goals and needs of our district race, equity and social justice.
  • Continued professional learning during new staff orientation that will support novice teachers to recognize, respond to, and stop incidents of bias, racism, and microaggressions and encourage tough conversations around race, bias, and social justice, from preschool through Grade 12.
  • Continued offering or our Understanding Identities course to all WPS staff. This course is designed to engage educators in safe and honest conversations about identity, specifically race, gender and sexuality, ultimately, empowering all of us to impact systemic change.