LaFond resigns school board seat

Milton School Board vice-chairwoman Karen LaFond resigned her seat last Tuesday. (File photo by Courtney Lamdin)

Exactly a month to the day school trustee Jenn Taylor stepped down from the Milton School Board, another member has resigned.

Vice-chairwoman Karen LaFond resigned her seat on Tuesday, Aug. 8, a day after the school board appointed Milton resident Greg Burbo to fill Taylor’s vacant seat.

Obtained by the Milton Independent, the one-page letter says LaFond decided to step down after considering the “magnitude of stress” she and her family has endured over the last six months.

LaFond specifically pointed to the board’s efforts to address the “significant level of dysfunction” in the district, as made evident in Dr. Anthony Muhammad’s school culture audit.

That report, compiled after Muhammad’s three-day district visit last fall, concluded Milton schools are generally deficient in addressing diversity and multiculturalism and, in the middle school’s case, student behavior, among other problems.

LaFond’s letter says school leadership has been resistant to trustees’ efforts to address these issues.

“Even with our expressed concerns and requests for information to better understand the issues, the board has been impeded from taking positive actions,” she wrote.

LaFond continued, saying the “negativity of a few” has overshadowed the majority of faculty and staff’s voices but have nonetheless “redirected the focus of the board.”

Taylor’s resignation spoke to her displeasure with the board’s lacking communication with the community and with the dynamic between trustees. She told the Independent in a follow-up interview that her suggestions were usually ignored by her fellow board members.

The resignations come in a time of turmoil for the school board and district administration. Allegations of racism in hiring and in Milton schools have brought a number of advocates to recent board meetings, all demanding more transparency in school governance.

Some have called for board members to resign; others have vowed to run for office to replace them this Town Meeting Day.

LaFond’s letter says this interest was another factor in her stepping down. She submitted the letter after last Monday’s meeting, during which seven candidates – including Burbo – applied for the vacancy.

“I felt reassured that there are others who are ready to take on the multitude of responsibilities and issues facing the district and board,” she wrote. “I firmly believe any one of those individuals will do well on the board and bring renewed energy and resiliency to the district.”

LaFond said she originally ran for office to advocate for children and families who suffered injustice in the district, “whether due to bullying or hazing or deprivation of services.”

“While I know I have made a difference, I also know that it is time for me to step aside,” she wrote.

LaFond closed her letter by saying Milton School District has devoted faculty, staff and administration, whom she hopes the board will seek out to “cultivate a healthier culture in our schools.”

The agenda for Monday night’s board meeting includes an executive session tentatively scheduled for 7:10 p.m. concerning the appointment of a public officer and anticipated action as a result.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Milton Elementary and Middle School’s district training room.

This story will be updated.

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