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Unions Vote ‘No Confidence’ In Principal

Jamestown High School P-J file photo

Jamestown High School faculty and staff have voted “no confidence” in Principal Dr. Rosemary Bradley.

The votes, held Thursday, came after a Nov. 6 incident that forced an emergency lockdown that was described as the “tipping point” for school staff, Stephanie Sardi, Jamestown Teachers Association president, told The Post-Journal.

On Thursday, 86% of Jamestown Teachers Association members employed at the high school supported a vote of no confidence in Bradley.

The vote, totaling 90 participating members, saw 77 in favor and 13 against.

Several JTA members were absent the day of the vote. Three other unions — including paraprofessionals, secretaries and custodial staff at the high school — also held similar votes.

The Jamestown Public Schools District released a statement on the no confidence votes. It read: “District administration received a letter from the executive board of the Jamestown Teachers Association, on behalf of JHS faculty, expressing a vote of no confidence in one of our building administrators. A vote of no confidence is a symbolic, non-binding vote taken by the membership of a union as a way to express their concerns to district leadership.

“Jamestown Public Schools take any concerns from our school community, including our teachers, very seriously. District administration will continue to work with the Jamestown Teachers Association to determine how to resolve their concerns.”

Bradley was appointed principal at a May board of education meeting. She previously served as the assistant principal at BOCES in Sullivan County and has more than 23 years of experience as an educator.

Sardi said several teachers had inquired about a vote of no confidence prior to the Nov. 6 lockdown and added that union representatives began meeting with Bradley on a weekly basis when ongoing concerns were not being addressed. Sardi said JTA members elected to “work with her (Bradley)” prior to the lockdown incident.

The high school entered a lockdown procedure following physical altercations among students. Jamestown police responded to the incident and charges remain pending.

“The way that was handled was dangerous for everybody involved and we just needed to address that,” Sardi said.

In JTA’s statement and an additional document provided to The Post-Journal, a list of grievances attributed to Bradley were detailed that include the management of the recent lockdown procedure. The handling of the incident was also heavily criticized by community members during a Parent, Teacher, Student Association meeting held Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Board of Education held a special meeting — separate from the PTSA meeting — to “discuss student discipline matters.” The school board and Superintendent Bret Apthorpe released a statement the following day to clarify their actions.

According to school officials, immediate action will be taken as a result of the lockdown that include implementing additional safety training and drills that will take place with formal debriefings; assigning a JPD officer to the high school if the current resource officer is absent; providing additional radios for the school’s emergency response team; updating photos of all JHS students made accessible to staff; providing de-escalation training for staff during professional development; investigating contemporary security systems through the potential capital project plan to modernize JHS; and identifying at-risk students for intervention at the Tech Academy where personalized learning plans will be completed prior to their return to JHS.

In the JTA statement Friday, Sardi cited “a lack of trust and support for teachers, as well as poor interpersonal relationships between Dr. Bradley and her staff, and poor decision-making in general” from Bradley as the reasons for holding its vote.

“It has left teachers in the building with a sense of low morale and a deep concern for the safety of their students,” Sardi said.

Along with the vote, the faculty gathered specific incidents and comments from the educators regarding the high school. Among the comments received were “specific examples of a lack of consistency in dealing with student behavior, teachers and staff members being admonished in front of students, a lack of proper consequences for poor student behaviors, a general lack of availability to staff members and even directing them to simply not write discipline referrals when students were misbehaving,” the association said.

The association noted that a vote of no confidence is non-binding and is meant to express discontent with administration to the school board, “which employs high school Principal Dr. Bradley and ultimately oversees all aspects of the school.”

Sardi said union members will present additional concerns to the school board at its next meeting Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Middle School.

“Our hope is that the Board of Education and central administration look at the concerns that we have and come up with, right now, short-term and long-term goals to resolve the problems that they see over there (at JHS),” Sardi said. “Our ultimate goal is to have that building safe for students and faculty, because students are still afraid to go to school.”

Sardi noted that she met with Bradley on Friday to further detail the JTA’s concerns. Sardi said Bradley referenced a “seven-point plan” that would be implemented beginning Monday.

Adding that a vote of no confidence is “unprecedented” in Jamestown, Sardi said, “On the surface it sounds like they’re trying to make a change. We’ll find out.”

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