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Petition seeks to keep Moore as West Rocks principal

West Rocks Middle School Principal Lynne Moore speaks to the Norwalk Board of Education Negotiations and Personnel Committee in 2016, in City Hall.

Correction, 4 p.m.: Ed.D.

NORWALK, Conn. — If a Norwalk parent’s information is correct, Lynne Moore, Ed.D., may be removed as Principal of West Rocks Middle School as soon as next week.  Rumors of Moore’s removal have inspired a petition titled, “Keep Dr. Moore at West Rocks Middle School!”

“The parent community is aware of the plans to remove Dr. Moore of her position as Principal at West Rocks Middle School,” petition originator Elisabeth Beausoleil wrote on change.org. “We feel this would be a huge loss for the West Rocks Community and strongly urge you to reconsider and keep Dr. Moore in her position as Principal at West Rocks.”  The petition had 549 signatures at 11:50 p.m. Sunday. A rally is planned for 4 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Beausoleil wrote in the petition appeal.

“There have been rumors for some time now that Central Office would like to remove a certain middle school principal as soon as next week,” Beausoleil wrote Thursday on the Facebook page Norwalk Parents for Education. “I feel that this would be a huge loss for the school community. The thing that breaks my heart is that this person may be let go (or ‘reassigned’) without any chance for current students or families to say goodbye. I have personally experienced this at another school and it’s heartbreaking for the children and families…. I hope with all my might that the rumors are wrong, but if they are correct, I implore Central Office to do the right thing and let our children say goodbye before they time the announcement at just the right time, after the kids left and before the teachers are let go for the summer, basically affording a five-minute goodbye for all.”

Beausoleil did not reply to a Saturday email requesting information on the status of Moore, who has been the subject of multiple previous disciplinary actions by Norwalk Public School administrators.

Asked about the rumor, Board of Education chair Mike Barbis wrote in a Friday e-mail: “The Board is not able to comment on administrative and personnel matters.” NPS Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams declined comment for the same reason.

Moore did not reply to a request for comment.  In a Sunday e-mail, administrators’ union Vice-President Tony Ditrio explained, “We do not know what Dr. {Superintendent of Schools Steven} Adamowski intends to do at this time but will be meeting with him to find out his intentions.”

Ditrio on Saturday slammed Adamowski, accusing him of looking for reasons to fire Moore and alleging that the Board of Education directed him to do so.  In an e-mail Ditrio wrote, “Dr. Moore has been the subject of unfair scrutiny and has been called in to answer for every trivial thing that {Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo} can put together.  He is supposed to evaluate her and support her but his only role seems to be to try and find any reason to reprimand her.  His evaluations are not in accordance with the State approved evaluation plan and are incomplete and biased.”

Ditrio also alleged that a faction on the Board of Education wants Moore removed due to past outspoken criticism of school budgets.

“They all sold the story that the unions were evil and greedy.  Since they controlled the story, it became fact to many Norwalk residents,” Ditrio wrote Sunday. “The Board, really just 3-4 members, openly discussed bringing in a hard ass to get even with, some principals, the unions and their leadership. They found the hard ass in Dr. Adamowski. He was not hired in spite of his reputation but rather because of it.  His resume is not about any positive work for students but rather scorch the earth destruction of school districts and staff harassment.”

Ditrio has made these statements before, in December highlighting a 2015 email offered as evidence in the lawsuit filed by former Special Education Director Christina Fensore against former Board Chairman Mike Lyons.

“{W}e need a certified ball-buster in here (Adamowski) to clean this shit up,” then-Chairman Lyons wrote to Barbis and Board member Bryan Meek, a comment inspired by the announcement of an unexpected $500,000 in Special Education costs.

In another email made public by the Fensore case, Lyons in February 2016  characterized Moore as a longtime opponent of Norwalk Public School reform efforts, writing to then-Common Council member Bruce Kimmel to plead for more funding:

“We are really trying to change things here – not to settle for mediocrity any more.  You know better than almost anyone what a nest of self-interested old-timers NPS is; cleaning this out is going to be like cleaning the Augean stables. {Former Superintendent Manny Rivera} was a true visionary, but like {Former Superintendent} Susan Marks, he didn’t have the strength needed to overcome the massive forces of the status quo at NPS. Sandwiched between the Four Horsemen (Daddona, Ditrio, Morris and Moore) and one hand and the Trio (Murray, Rivas and Mosby) on the other, he just gave up and left. Now we FINALLY have the pieces in place — Daddona gone, Ditrio leaving 6/30, Morris on life support, Moore isolated, Murray and Rivas gone, Conner and Costanzo in place, a new SPED director soon — to break the decades-old logjam and move forward.”

 

Kimmel is now a member of the Board of Education. The BoE voted to settle the Fensore case, saying this was less expensive than going to court.

Ditrio’s Sunday email continued:

“Dr. Moore is the last one standing.  They have been trying to entrap her and get rid of her for three years now.  Numerous times she is called in to disciplinary meetings on trumped up charges. We need to constantly defend what she does in her role as Principal.  … Dr. Moore is being persecuted mearly {sic} because she cares deeply about her students and speaks her mind.”

“I am not sure what the next step will be but Dr. Adamowski is once again directly involved as a result of Dr. Costanzo’s write ups.  It seems that in Norwalk we no longer want educational leaders but rather Principals that are ‘loyal’ to his majesty and just do as they are told.  This is an increasing problem when the leaders at Central Office seem to themselves have no moral compass and will do anything to stay in favor.  The last thing this administration looks at is what’s good for kids.”

 

Some of these sentiments are echoed by comments left on Beausoleil’s Facebook post and by signers of the petition.

“I have been hearing for a while that for whatever reason she was on their radar. I don’t quite sure know why when I always hear good things from parents there!” one parent wrote.

“The one who was just named ‘Administrator of the Year’ by the Connecticut Association of School Administrators, whose school has seen some of the highest accountability score growth,” PTO member Jill Arvanitis wrote.

Moore was one of six administrators honored by CASA, of which Ditrio is president.

Norwalk NAACP chair Brenda Penn-Williams echoed comments by Ditrio, claiming that the Lyons-led BoE engaged in “tumultuous behavior” toward Moore.

“Dr. Moore is a community leader, competent educator and a caring person, She {sic} should not have to have these pressures every year from the administration. Getting rid of Dr. Moore as a principal will be devastating to West Rocks Middle School,” Penn-Williams wrote in an e-mail Sunday.

Not only was Moore honored by CASA, but she was featured as a Hometown Hero by Cablevision, Penn-Williams said.

Moore was issued a written reprimand in April 2016, with Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski charging her with insubordination for discussing middle school redesign plans with parents and holding a parent meeting after being told not to.  Moore appealed to the three-member BoE Negotiations and Personnel to rescind the reprimand; it voted unanimously to uphold it.   Such hearings are normally private, but Moore’s hearing  was opened to the public at her request.

Moore appealed the reprimand in court and was denied, in March.

Adamowski’s 2016 reprimand letter states:

“Any further instances of insubordination and/or undermining district objectives, including intimidation of staff who support District initiatives, will result in suspension from your duties. Continued lack of acceptable professional practice in your current assignment shall result in your reassignment from the position of Principal of West Rocks Middle School pending Mr. Costanzo’s recommendation and evaluation of your performance.

 

Adamowski’s 2016 reprimand appeared to imply that if Rivera had been Superintendent during the 2016 incident, Moore would likely have been dismissed instead of reprimanded.  “I cannot ignore a pattern of behavior,”Adamowski wrote. “Had Dr. Rivera stayed here this probably would have been a different situation. I did not feel I could go that far, given the fact that this was the first situation in this pattern of situations that I was dealing with… However, I place a great deal of weight on pattern of behavior.”

Prior coverage of Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA) President Lynne Moore, principal of West Rocks Middle School, including her reprimand, can be found here. 

24 comments

PIBerman June 18, 2018 at 9:19 am

Tony Ditrio publicly criticizing the qualifications of the School Superintendent hired by the BOE in the best hostile Norwalk School Administrator Union tradition. Reminds us when the BOE routinely gave the school Unions a seat at the table and actively took part in City elections. Progress comes slowly in Norwalk.

John S June 18, 2018 at 10:28 am

Wait… Dr. Moore was named ‘Administrator of the Year’ by a group where Tony Ditrio is the president?

That doesn’t seem sketchy at all! (sarcasm)

Townie June 18, 2018 at 11:14 am

In my opinion Dr. Moore is a true champion. Her record of success and achievement at West Rocks far exceed any of the records put up at the 3 other middle schools, or for that matter all remaining 12 elementary and 2 high schools. I am told that she has achieved this mostly on her own, with little positive support from the central office. It has been said that she has had numerous obstacles and obstructions thrown in her direction, only to have continued to succeed and survived. Seems that a great deal of effort has been taken to have her fail. I can only imagine how frustrated, bitter and angry this has left the central office hierarchy, as well as a few BOE members. A sad day in Norwalk should Dr. Moore leave town, or be reassigned.
One final comment, concerning public school test scores, collected data and statistics. Many undeniable truths exist about them. To begin, they can be easily manipulated, massaged and misinterpreted, which could potentially result in a degree of bogus information being produced, unintentionally of course. Unfortunately, when bogus information of any kind, anywhere is repeated often enough, it eventually may be considered true,

Skyler June 18, 2018 at 11:36 am

Townie … the testing data is administered, collected and published by the State. There is nothing bogus about it. Look at how the achievement gap has been closed at certain schools and not others. The records speak for themselves. Roton’s State published scores are outstanding; West Rocks is a different story. It all starts at the top.

Lynnehastogo June 18, 2018 at 1:27 pm

About time they get rid of this woman. Of course she will file suit, that’s what she does. She was given every opportunity to get on board with middle school redesign and fought it the entire year. She has no business still in a district that is trying to improve. All she does is try and undermine persons of authority and threaten her staff to keep it quiet. Rally all you want folks, her poor record speaks for itself.

EnoPride June 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

So Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo, who has been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace, is being put on the case to push Dr. Moore out? Can someone please push Mr. Costanzo out?

Patrick Cooper June 18, 2018 at 3:18 pm

For whatever “conspiracy” theory you want to assign to this phenomenon – what is obvious is -whenever there is a story about NPS, and some dug-in union folks, the fake-name posters come out in force. It was never worse than when Jonathan Pelto organized statewide resistance to our hiring of Dr. Adamowski – perhaps because reform is threatening to unions.

The obvious exception is the comment by Mr. Berman – who knows well those dysfunctional days when under the guidance of Bruce Mellion – the locals believed they deserved seats on our municipal government to assure the self-serving would continue.

You know our BOE is doing something right when the fake-names come out in force. Curious why identification is to be avoided by those with an opinion? Ya know?

Claire Schoen June 18, 2018 at 3:23 pm

My kids didn’t attend West Rocks and I do not know Dr. Moore well, other than to know that she is unbelievably dedicated to her work. I can’t help but wonder if she were a white male would things be going the same? (Yes, it’s a provocative thought, on purpose. Have at it)

WHATS GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN June 18, 2018 at 3:50 pm

In a school system which by new design is a failure, it seems logical to eliminate those responsible for that failure. That would be Dr Adamowski,the so called hatchet man; Frank Costanzo, the accused sexual harassment predator; Mike Barbis and Mike Lyons too long seated on the BOE, have focused on Dr. Lynne Moore principal of West Rocks Middle School. Why? Probably because she believes that the children of the city deserve real education and has confronted Dr A and others in his crew. Look people, this temporary hangman has to go and his posse has to go too. The city needs educators and a viable system. Wanna save money? Get rid of the 3 of them!! Pay teachers to teach. Is it logical to dismiss an award winning principle because Curly, Larry and Mo can’t deal with it! Like hell. Its an election year. Open your eyes Harry. be a boss! Don’t take the “ROCK” out of West Rocks.

Interesting June 18, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Just wondering….any teachers at West Rocks going to this rally? Based on Facebook posts about this matter, I haven’t seen any support from her staff? Just curious what they think? May not get the answer here, but just something to ponder?

Mitch Adis June 18, 2018 at 8:49 pm

It only matters what she’s done for the kids. My kids have thrived at WRMS thanks to Dr. Moore. The BOE would be doing the kids a major disservice by removing Dr. Moore. We need more just like her.

Jlightfield June 18, 2018 at 9:48 pm

@claireschoen, you hit the nail on the head. …

Edited to remove an instance of ascribing motives without proof, a violation of the comment policy.

U.S. Blues June 19, 2018 at 11:00 am

@NON/JLighthouse, so personal attacks aren’t allowed but racism is ok if is against “old white people”? Just perpetuating the liberal agenda?

U.S. Blues June 19, 2018 at 11:03 am

Sorry, I misquoted.

My sentence should have stated that racism is ok if it is against “old, white MEN” (not “people”)

Sandra June 19, 2018 at 11:17 am

@ Interesting,
FYI many of the staff at West Rocks DO support Dr. Moore but are fearful of reprisal from the BOE and that is why you’re not seeing names on the petition. After all Dr. Moore is on the chopping block because she dared to stand up against the budget cuts and the ridiculous changes that were forced down their throats.

Sandra June 19, 2018 at 11:23 am

@ Skyler,
West Rocks has surpassed the District on almost scores for ELA and Math on this years SBAC test! Do you even know that WRMS is a Title 1 school? The enrollment does not come out of Rowayton as does Roton’s.

Sue L. June 19, 2018 at 12:33 pm

@Sandra, maybe it is a possibility that WRMS scores went up because of these “ridiculous” changes? Just a thought that maybe it is the interventions “forced” by Central Office that is causing the scores to go up and not the school administration. Administrators stayed the same at WR, but the interventions are what changed this year. And I would not go so far to say “many” teachers support Dr. Moore. There are some, but I certainly would not say many.

Bob Welsh June 19, 2018 at 2:15 pm

@U.S. Blues

Yesterday I took on moderating of comments so that Nancy could focus on reporting. I missed an instance of ascribing motives and I apologize. It has been addressed.

Jalna Jaeger June 19, 2018 at 3:43 pm

I worked for DR. Moore, and am glad to see that she is leaving. She is a not a good principal. She is unkind to those who work for her. She is diabolical in her methods to get rid of teachers who stand up to her. IT IS ABOUT TIME THAT SHE RETIRED!

Sue L. June 19, 2018 at 7:43 pm

Saw pictures of the rally in the Hour. Was not impressed with turnout. A few parents, kids and community members like Bruce Morris. Not a really good representation of that true school community. The numbers that did not turn out to support her is just as powerful as those who did!

Peggie June 19, 2018 at 8:11 pm

So, there has been no confirmation that Moore is being fired/reassigned. It’s just a rumor this parent, Elisabeth Beausoleil heard and ran with. Then she started a petition, organized a rally. Then Nancy on Norwalk took over writing a story about the rumor, getting Tony Ditrio to comment, getting NAACP mouth, Brenda Penn Williams to comment. Neither Moore nor central office confirmed rumors and here we are. Isn’t this how they acted in Salem, Massachusetts several hundred years ago?

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