REAL is disappointed, saddened, and angered over the Northampton School Committee’s recent decision to not offer Dr. Jannell Pearson-Campbell the Interim Superintendent position. The recorded interviews with the three finalists and the dialogue and decision-making that followed offer a case study in the nuanced and pernicious ways that systemic racism and white supremacy culture operate.
Our district has spent a good deal of time talking about equity, inclusion, healing, and anti-bias education; about our poor track record of hiring and retaining teachers and staff of color; about the urgent need to have children of color see their brilliant and strong selves reflected in and by the adults surrounding them in school; and about the need for white children to see that white people aren’t the only ones who get to be in leadership positions.
And yet on July 7, 2022, our district—when presented with an abundantly qualified Black woman with 22 years of education experience, recent experience as an assistant superintendent during one of the most challenging times in public education, glowing references that spotlighted the most necessary elements of strong leadership, and an expressed commitment to emphasizing student voices, equity, healing, and collaboration—chose not to take action that backs up its talk. We chose to not hire Dr. Pearson-Campbell, after committee members praised her and wrung their hands over how tough the decision was. The all-white committee instead offered the position to a white man, Dr. Howard “Jake” Eberwein.
Northampton failed here. Rather than just sigh, shake our heads, and move on, REAL requests the following:
- We ask that Dr. Eberwein, to honor the crucial work of anti-racism, decline the offer of interim superintendent and instead show support for Dr. Pearson-Campbell’s candidacy.
- We ask that the School Committee offer the position to Dr. Pearson-Campbell, who noted at the July 7 meeting that she was available to start immediately.
- Regardless of the outcome of the above, we ask that School Committee members commit to engaging in anti-racist training and use this recent experience to inform dialogue, among themselves and with interested members of the NPS community, about ways that white supremacy culture played out in the hiring process and how future processes might protect against it.
For more about how NPS community members have been impacted by the School Committee’s choice, we invite you to read some of the emails being sent to School Committee members.* We also encourage those who weren’t at the July 7 meeting and who haven’t viewed the recording to do so.
[28:52 to 1:03:18] Dr. Jannell Pearson-Campbell interview
[1:13:55 to 1:47:48] Dr. Marlene DiLeo interview
[2:00:30 to 2:44:08] Dr. Jake Eberwein interview (note that the beginning is cut off)
[2:54:10 to 4:13:03] School Committee in conversation about the interviews and vote to hire Dr. Eberwein
Finally, please tune into the School Committee meeting tonight at 6:30 for the next decisions on the interim superintendent hire. Zoom log-in info and the agenda are here.