LETTER: Neighbor weighs in on superintendent situation

I write not as a taxpayer, nor a resident of Marblehead — I understand for some readers, my opinion won’t mean much, so feel free to stop reading. I write as a resident of neighboring Swampscott. I write as a teacher. I write as someone who has witnessed the events of the last few weeks surrounding Dr. John Buckey.

Dr. Buckey’s seemingly random ousting from his superintendent position and the manner in which it was conducted is extremely shocking and concerning to me. The lack of transparency from the School Committee throughout this process, alongside the discovery of Mr. Brian Ota’s failure to notify voters of his open complaint against the superintendent, makes it look much more personal than professional. It is also unacceptable and shocking to hear that a School Committee member found a threatening message outside their home. This is not the Marblehead that I am used to having next door.

The lack of transparency from this School Committee inspires the question: why has Dr. Buckey been forced out? Unfortunately, with the School Committee operating in the manner in which it has decided to, we will not know. This leads minds to wander and come to our own conclusions.

Was Dr. Buckey forced out because of whom he loves? It is not lost on me, as a queer man, that this comes during the same summer that a preschool was forced to close its doors because of its decision to display a pride flag and a public pride mural was desecrated and vandalized.

It also comes on the heels of one School Committee member being elected with a campaign that sought to give parents the ability to “review and if necessary opt out of educational content that does not align with their family values.” This rhetoric could have been taken directly from Governor DeSantis’ “anti-woke” playbook. It is jarring to see this type of language being used by an elected official on the School Committee. Exactly what type of content was this School Cfommittee member referring to?

Putting all of this together, perhaps it is not shocking that Dr. Buckey — a man who is the type of role model I would have deeply appreciated as a teenager coming to grips with my own identity — has been forced out in such an arbitrary and capricious manner. I hope this is not the reason, but the obfuscation of the School Committee leads the public to draw whatever conclusions they may.

I would like to thank the many writers of letters to the editor who shared their perspectives on this issue, including those who came to a different conclusion, for giving me the confidence to add my own. I also appreciate the coverage from Marblehead’s two news sources, the Marblehead Weekly News and the Marblehead Current.

I would finally like to add that I am deeply moved that so many of these letters are from residents of the town who are not elected officials, while also expressing my disappointment in our elected officials at both the state and local level who failed to weigh in on this miscarriage of justice.

Again, I am not a resident, nor a taxpayer, but I am a neighbor. Your neighbors are watching. Your children are watching. History is watching.

Tristan Smith

Humphrey Street, Swampscott

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