By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — School board members were “called out” last night for “humiliating” science teacher William Winiarski when seeking approval for a field trip to the McAuliffe/Shepard Observatory in Concord, N.H. at the Tuesday, June 9 meeting.
During the public comment session of the school board meeting last night, Wakefield resident and former Galvin Middle School teacher Larry Crispo said that Winiarski had been “publicly humiliated” at the June 9 meeting.
“I’m tired of this,” said Crispo. “I think it’s a disgrace. If I had been at this table that night you would have gotten a different response.”
Crispo commented that field trip policies are “vanilla” the way they are written and later pointed out that though the trip proposed by Winiarski had not been approved by school board members, it was approved by school administrators.
Winiarski acknowledged at the outset of the school board’s June 9 meeting that he had made a mistake by not stating that the field trip would take students out of state but he was still harshly reprimanded by School Committee member Christopher Callanan, according to Crispo.
“The way this has been presented is totally unacceptable,” said Callanan at that meeting, noting that out of state field trip requests must be approved by the Superintendent of Schools before any information is sent to families.
“There are certain procedures that have to be followed when students are going out of state,” he stressed.
While the field trip finally received unanimous approved, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike said that there is still work to be done regarding field trip procedures.
“The School Committee and administration will continue to work on it, as well as highlight the critical procedures.”
Though the policy states that field trips requiring overnight lodging must be approved by school board members, nowhere does it state that out-of-state field trips must receive their prior approval. The policy text regarding field trips follows:
“Student field trips of significant educational value shall be encouraged and permitted under rules established by the Superintendent.
“A field trip shall be defined as any school-sponsored activity which required the students be away from the normal school setting during or outside of normal school hours. Normal school hours are defined as those hours during which Wakefield Public Schools are in session for academic learning. School-sponsored activities are defined as those activities organized through the Wakefield public schools or its related groups and organized and/or chaperoned by school faculty or staff. Student safety shall be a primary consideration on all field trips.
“Principals will be responsible for ensuring curriculum and instruction equity among all students.
“To ensure equitable curriculum opportunities all field trips must have connection to instructional goals and the school’s mission.
“Students unable to attend educational field trips must be offered an alternative program which provides similar educational opportunity and curriculum exposure.
“In general, recreational value field trips shall not be taken during normal school hours. Any exception to this will require the approval of the Superintendent.
“All field trips that require overnight accommodations will require the approval of the School Committee. Use of personal vehicles for transporting students is prohibited
“All field trips requiring School Committee approval must be brought before the School Committee for approval before arrangements are announced.”
Published in the June 24, 2015 edition