Friday, December 26, 2014

Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent Sergio Paez: De Guatemala A Guate-peor (from bad to worse) Part One

Section II., of Dr. Sergio Paez Holyoke Public School Superintendent employment contract subset E. exacts: Under Responsibilities and Duties Superintendent shall...

(E) Criticisms, complaints, and suggestions of substance called to the attention of the
Committee shall be referred to the Superintendent for study, disposition/or
recommendation as appropriate to facilitate the orderly administration of the HPS,
ensure responsiveness to the public and fairness to the Superintendent and the
Committee. Likewise, any substantial criticisms, complaints, and suggestions called to
the attention of the Superintendent shall be referred to the attention of the Committee
for study, disposition/or recommendation as appropriate.

As a Holyoke Public School parent, I have experienced Superintendent Paez to be consistently dismissive towards the needs and concerns of parents and their students; including my own.  

On August 28, 2014 I emailed my daughter's principal John Breish regarding my child's impending walk to and from school.  The mostly uphill .09 mile trek required skillful manuevering of high speed traffic across Route 202 which intersects with I-91 at exit 16 right before it goes under the high way.  Mostly without sidewalks and no crossing guard or traffic police anywhere on this route my daughter and I would reach the Soldiers Home where construction was in progress eliminating the few existing sidewalks up route 202.  

I asked Principal Breish how he would feel if his two sons(who conveniently attend the out-of-zone school where he is principal)faced manuevering the treacherous trek to school - 
he agreed it was life-threatening.  

For two weeks, I called both Principal Breish and Dr. Paez' office only to receive the 'run around'. I was told they were in meetings by their secretaries and no one knew when they would be available.  A week later, I received a call from the director of transportation services who 'matter of factly' denied my daughter transportation per Paez's recommendation.  I was told my daughter would not receive transportation because she was not in her zone school.

Due to a period of extended unemployment from 2008 to 2010, my daughter and I became displaced in 2011.  From Springfield we were placed in a motel/shelter in Holyoke on Allen Street.  It was not an ideal situation but, I remained focused and driven to regain our stability.  Within three months I obtained gainful salaried employment and secured a safe place to live just two street lights South on Northampton Street. Our previous shelter placement zoned my daughter at Lt. P. Clayre Sullivan Elementary School.  Purposed in our stability I opted to keep her at Sullivan.   

My family's previous living situation was part of my daughter's school record.  Rather than accuse Gina Roy, the Director of student services of callous negligence I will show mercy and grace (something she never extended to my family).  Instead, I will attribute Mrs. Roy's unresponsiveness to a lack of due diligence in evaluating our previous living situation which would have revealed my child's eligibility for transportation.  

Upon receiving their cold "unfortunately our policy states that because your daughter is not in her zone school she is not eligible for tranportation" I called Devin Sheehan, Vice Chair of the School Committee.  Sheehan recognized the urgent nature of my legtitimate request and assured me he would look into the matter.  Paez still hadn't returned my calls.  It wasn't until I reported my story to two media networks who's same-day coverage revealed tractor trailer trucks's making sharp turns on Homestead Avenue with no crossing guard to guide students safely across that I received a (disingenuous) call back from Paez who fained concern agreeing to place my daughter on a already enroute bus that afternoon.  

On December 15,2014 The Holyoke School Committee Reviewed Superintendent Paez' performance for the 2013 - 2014 school year. Dr. Paez was evalutated in four major areas (with one overall rating) which could be assessed as unsatisfactory, needs improvement, proficient and exemplary. Below are the four major areas of evaluation.
  1. Instructional Leadership
  2. Management and Operations
  3. Family and Community Engagement
  4. Professional Culture
Unsurprisingly, Paez' performance evaluation from eight out of nine school committee members was primarily 'needs improvement/developing' in all four areas, three 'unsatisfactory' and an overall rating of 'Needs Improvement' with three ratings of 'unsatisfactory'.  

Most notable were Paez' ratings from various school committee members in the area of Family and Community Engagement.

School committee member Dennis Birks wrote the following summary regarding Dr. Paez's performance in the area of family and community engagement:

"He conducted a state of the schools address and ward meetings and used the same presentation in all meetings to very different audiences.  In the ward meetings he assured parents timely two-way communication and easy accessibility but, from conversations and e-mails I've received from parents I've learned he failed to keep that promise.  On numerous occassions he either did not call parents back (in a timely manner)  or did not call back - at all.  Communication with parents is a key component to students success and in order to keep parents involved their views, concerns and ideas should be respected.  

Dr. Paez was also the speaker at the chamber of Commerce breakfast this year and he gave the same presentation he gave at the state of the schools address and the ward meetings.  I felt this was a missed opportunity to share ideas with community business owners and stakeholders of how they can be involved with increasing the graduation rate, increasing reading proficiency in students by grade three and decreasing the dropout rate in the HPS".  

Mildred Lefebvre of Ward one had this to say..."Lack of communication, confusion throughout the district and families tired of the lack of respect and  follow through. Principals (are)constantly in meetings. Teachers appear to not have a life anymore. Everyone appears to have stopped looking at the overall well-being of our students.  Not addressing concerns in a timely fashion." 

Only after exposing Paez' unresponsiveness to a 10 year old's unsafe walk to school was I able to get my daughter safely to and from school.  

In the school year 2013 - 2014 Dr. Paez gained $160,000.00 in income.  What has the Holyoke Public School community gained besides disingenuous, canned and microwaved monotoned speeches?  

Stay tuned for part II of: HPS Supterintendent Sergio Paez: De Guatemala a Guate-Peor...


  1. The irony is that parents are often criticized for not being more involved in their child's education, and here you have a parent who is totally vested in their child who is not being recognized or validated. There is a new voice in Holyoke and you will be reckoned with.

    1. Darlene,
      You have spoken Truth to Power...We are Not lost, We are Not conquered...We Are Stronger Than Ever.
      Revolutionary Love to you my Sistuh.