Scituate school leaders lax as storm was roaring

Scituate school leaders lax as storm was roaring

Leadership is about seeing the big picture during a crisis. Unfortunately, Supt. Lawrence Filippelli, Asst. Supt. Michael Sollitto, and Principal Courtney Francis made decisions on March 2 which were short-sighted, setting elementary school children on a dangerous and unpredictable path.

It was no secret Scituate was being hit with a major winter storm packing dangerous winds. As early as 1:13 p.m., there were reports of downed trees and poles blocking major thoroughfares. (Editor’s Note: The March 2 nor’easter had high winds and heavy rain; no snow).

Filippelli and Sollitto’s ignorance to the mounting danger resulted in children being bused during the height of the storm. As buses were unable to traverse the tree- and pole-littered streets, Filippelli and Sollitto staged the children on buses at the high school for pickup.

The incompetence continued. Filippelli and Sollitto failed to ensure the high school personnel kept the school open to house the children within, safe from flying debris and access to bathrooms. Instead, Filippelli, Sollitto, and Francis abandoned the school children, leaving their offices at 5:30 p.m. for the luxury of their homes.

As my 2nd grade daughter sat in the dark wondering whether her parents would be able to get to her, she looked at a closed, dark high school, struggling with having to go to the bathroom. As time ticked by, my daughter urinated on herself, something I found out at 5:45 p.m. when I finally made it to the school.

The following day, Filippelli, in typical fashion, blamed my daughter, stating she never advised the bus driver she had to urinate. When confronted with the fact that the high school was closed and dark, Filippelli stated custodians were inside. When asked how a child or bus driver would have known, Filippelli again blamed my daughter. When asked why he did not ensure the custodians housed the children inside, well, by now the reader knows Filippelli’s answer, the frightened second grader was at fault. When asked why he, Sollitto, and Francis did not remain in their offices until every child was safely with a parent, or respond to the school to ensure the children were being cared for, Filippelli, in typical fashion, shifted responsibility to the bus company.

Shame, not only on Filippelli and Sollitto, who refuse to lead, but on Brian LaPlante, Carolyn Dias, and Coleen Pendergast, who failed the second graders through their negligent monitoring of, and condoning of Filippelli and Sollitto.

The Scituate School Department is at a moment of reckoning. Such a moment bends history in a new direction. The imperfect path of the Scituate schools under the direction of Filippelli and Sollitto has for too long stumbled towards a destination of disarray. Those who have followed the playbook from the past are in for a surprise. Our children, their parents, and grandparents are watching. We no longer buy the peddling of competency in Filippelli, Sollitto, LaPlante, Dias, or Pendergast. Rationality has broken through, and it will be heard in the streets and at the ballot box!

Joseph Maggiacomo III, Esq.