Shelton students plan Smith protest at school board meeting Wednesday
SHELTON — A newly formed high school student group is demanding the Board of Education rescind the appointment of Beth Smith as interim superintendent of schools.
SHS Students Fight for Change, a student group created to advocate for education in the city, will be organizing a protest of Smith’s position prior to the regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting Wednesday at Shelton Intermediate School.
The protest is set to begin at 6:15 p.m., with the board meeting scheduled to start at 7.
Smith is replacing Chris Clouet, who announced his resignation effective at month’s end.
Shelton High School senior and former Democratic Board of Aldermen candidate Matt McGee announced the demands on Facebook — highlighted by a call for Smith’s ousting and the appointment of Assistant Superintendent Ken Saranich, pending receipt of a waiver of necessary credentials, as interim superintendent.
“I would like to make it clear that while our No. 1 demand is for the Board of Education to rescind their appointment of Dr. Smith,” McGee said. “The problems within our BOE and our city’s education system run much deeper than just that.”
McGee, one of Smith’s former students when she was SHS principal, launched a petition Thursday, one day after the Board of Education voted 5-4 to appoint Smith as interim superintendent, to reject what he called a “reckless decision.”
Board of Education Chair Kathy Yolish said she knows of the protest and respects all people who want their voices heard. She said she would never defame their reputation and hopes “our rights are treated with the same respect.”
Smith said her “focus continues to remain on the transition with a priority of working with the board to agree on a budget.”
The school budget is one reason McGee said he was worried about the choice of leadership for the district.
“We are chronically underfunded to the tune of $3,000 per student,” McGee said on Facebook. “We are seeing increasing class sizes, aging textbooks and technology, frustrating fees like ‘pay to participate’ and the current BOE is much more interested in playing partisan politics and consolidating power amongst a few than truly fighting for the betterment of our education system.”
The group’s other demands, according to McGee, are that the next official superintendent be a bipartisan appointment; the superintendent search committee also be bipartisan and include at least one SHS student, to be selected by the student body; and the next superintendent “bring a track record with them that will make new parents eager to come to Shelton, raise their families, and send their kids to school here.”