This week The Valley Reporter received a copy of an email sent by Washington West Supervisory Union Superintendent Brigid Nease to a reporter at the Waterbury Record.
In this email, Nease suggests that she is the official spokesperson for the entire Washington West Supervisory Union and then goes on to note that she will be largely unavailable for inquiries from local reporters and news organizations.
“My procedure is to respond to the media in writing whenever possible. This helps the reporter to be able to read and reread the information which then leads to more accurate reporting. I can usually get an email back within 24 to 48 hours if I am in the office. I only give interviews on rare occasions,” Nease wrote.
It is understandable if Nease feels her job is to the schools and the students, but The Valley Reporter, the Waterbury Record and the Stowe Reporter have long histories of successful relationships with their local schools, school boards, building administrators, athletic directors, teachers and staff.
It is troubling to think that those excellent working relationships would be supplanted by the superintendent. It is troubling to think that the free flow of information from local educators to the press could get constricted at the supervisory level.
The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) has a communications committee which must apparently do something, right? Each of our elementary schools has a building principal who regularly functions as a spokesperson for the school. These are educational professionals fully capable of answering press inquiries.
Has there been some unknown codification of Nease as the only spokesperson for our schools? Have the new members of the HUUSD Board disempowered Harwood’s co-principals, school board chairs and teachers?
Does it really make sense for people to email questions about Waitsfield’s school garden or Moretown’s after school program or Fayston’s lunch program to the superintendent? Do we really need that kind of consolidation of communication?
The parents and taxpayers in our district are accustomed to having their own real and sincere relationships with the administrators, teachers and staff at our elementary, middle and high schools.
We question any attempts to usurp or bypass those relationships.