“Dr. Frangos or Mister Hyde” in Mashpee superintendent race

The best candidate dropped out after the search committee failed to appear for a scheduled site visit.
Superintendent Bradshaw’s efforts have not proved fruitful.

One candidate drops out, obvious choice remains

The Mashpee School Committee has released the names of three finalists to succeed departing Superintendent of Schools Ann Bradshaw. The finalists are:

  • Brian Hyde, high school social studies teacher, Mashpee Public Schools,
  • Elise Frangos, assistant superintendent, Old Rochester Regional Schools  and
  • Steven Hiersche, Interim Superintendent, Hopkinton Public Schools.

A fourth candidate, Dr. Patricia Lally, dropped out after the search committee failed to appear for a scheduled site visit last Friday to the Tewksbury School District where Lally serves as assistant superintendent.

Mashpee Schools’ Profile

Mashpee is a school district of 1,725 students. 81.0% are white, 6.0% Native American, 3.3% African American, 3.8% mixed race, non-Hispanic, 3.5% Hispanic, 2.1% Asian, and .2% Pacific Islander.

District-wide MCAS scores show 68% of Mashpee’s students proficient or better in English Language Arts (ELA), 51% in Math and 46% in Science/Tech/Engineering (STE).

Mashpee accepted 37 school choice students and lost 69 to other districts, a net loss of $181,729. They lost 45 students to charter schools at a gross cost of $629,730.

As Cape Cod Today reported in our September 19, 2012 story on MCAS scores, Mashpee’s MCAS scores are disappointing. In analyzing Grade 10 test scores we noted:

At the other end of the scale rests Mashpee High School, with 17% of its students scoring either “needs improvement” or “warning” in English Language Arts, 32% “ni/warning” in Science/Tech/Engineering and a truly embarrassing 37% of Mashpee’s 10th graders ranking “needs improvement” or “warning” in Mathematics.

Mashpee High School’s scores appear to be the lowest of any high school in the area for which DESE provided data.

School committee chair James Franco was quoted in today’s Cape Cod Times as saying the committee is looking for a superintendent who will continue Bradshaw’s efforts to improve academics at the school.

Unfortunately, Superintendent Bradshaw’s efforts in that direction have not proved fruitful. In 2007 75% of Mashpee students were proficient or higher in ELA and 62% in mathematics. In 2012 those numbers stand at 68% and 51%.

The “Non-Starters”

The candidate from inside the school district, Brian Hyde, must be considered a non-starter. Mashpee is in great need of change. The district not only embarrasses itself academically, it is tainted by rumors of institutionalized racism, primarily against members of the Wampanoag tribe. Additionally, many people feel the district has failed to maintain a good working relationship with town government. There is no compelling reason to consider any candidate who ever worked for the Mashpee School District.

As we said when Steven Hiersche was a finalist in Falmouth, it doesn’t seem quite fair to rank him on the performance of the Hopkinton Public Schools, as he’s merely the interim superintendent there. Hiersche only stayed at Framingham for three years, from 2009 to 2012, citing that “for personal and professional reasons, I felt it was time for a change…” according to an article in the Metrowest Daily News at the time of his resignation. His Linkedin profile states that he served five years in Watertown and six years in Plymouth. Hiersche always seems to land on his feet, with no gaps of unemployment in his vitae. However his sojourn through superintendent positions raises concern whether he would be a “drive by superintendent” who might not offer the stability Mashpee Public Schools needs if it is to turn itself around

The Obvious Choice

We looked at Dr. Elise Frangos when she was named a finalist for the superintendent position at the Monomoy Regional School District. Here is what we said:

Elise M. Frangos is director of curriculum and instruction at the 1,183 student, two-campus Old Rochester Regional School District. This district attracted 71 school choice students and lost only 2, returning a net profit of $379,667 on school choice. Old Rochester lost no students to charters. Old Rochester is 92.9% white, 2.7% African American and 4.5% other race/ethnicity. 89% of Old Rochester’s students are proficient or better in ELA, 70% in Math and 67% in STE.

If Mashpee’s primary goal is to improve its academics, Dr. Frangos is the person for the job. Her district scores higher than Mashpee on the MCAS and has been attractive as a school choice destination. While it’s likely to be years before Mashpee is heralded as a school choice Mecca, Dr. Frangos comes from a district that has demonstrated success in school choice competition.

We have a concern over her experience in managing a racially diverse district such as Mashpee, given Old Rochester’s overwhelmingly white population. However the academics and school competition success, tip the scales decisively in her favor.

The One That Got Away

Dr. Patricia Lally effectively told Mashpee to “go to hell” when their search committee missed an appointment for a site visit to the Tewksbury school district where she serves as assistant superintendent. Smart move, that, but a shame for Mashpee. Dr. Lally appears to be an excellent candidate.

Tewksbury has shown a slow but steady improvement in MCAS scores over the past five years. The 3,805 student district lost 82 students to charter schools and only two students to school choice last year. Demographically, Tewksbury is 92% white and 16.1% of the students are on free or reduced lunch.

As with Dr. Frangos, Dr. Lally is a finalist in several other superintendent races. She served in progressive administrative positions at Tewksbury for the past ten years.

Shame on the Mashpee search committee for letting this candidate slip off their hook!

Dr. Frangos or Mister Hyde?

Setting aside Steven “Drive By” Hiersche, we are left with Mashpee’s Brian Hyde or Old Rochester’s Elise Frangos. To our eyes, this isn’t even a choice – Dr. Frangos is the obvious choice.

Mr. Hyde has no experience as a district administrator and served only a brief term as acting principal at Mashpee High School. Hyde’s Linkedin profile touts experience as an assistant principal, teacher, coach and curriculum chairman. Given Mashpee’s history of embarrassing academic performance, we wouldn’t list that curriculum chair position if we were Mr. Hyde. More troubling are some of the things we hear from members of the Wampanoag tribe about how their students are served at Mashpee High School. We believe it’s time for Mashpee to break with its past and bring in new leadership to start with a clean slate.

Dr. Elise Frangos has an attractive set of qualifications to lead Mashpee back from the abyss. She comes from a district that demonstrates the academic success that has eluded Mashpee. More important, her current district is successful in school competition. With Nauset’s Dr. Bonny Gifford joining Falmouth, the school competition bar on the Upper Cape is about to be set much higher. Mashpee needs a leader like Elise Frangos to maintain its viability as a stand-alone school district.

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