Several alumni of Long Trail School in Dorset are backing faculty and staff who are planning a walkout next month if the school’s board chair does not resign.

Five graduates of the college preparatory school are rallying fellow alumni behind Long Trail faculty and staff who sent an open letter to the school board on Monday listing six major demands.

The signatories are also asking the school to remove a portion of the parent-student handbook that allows for the disenrollment of students based on the behavior of their guardians and to publicize the head of school’s performance review in the past two years.

You’ll never miss a story with our daily headlines in your inbox.

“We support the faculty members’ demands put forth in their September 27th letter,” Long Trail alumni Hunter Campbell, Elizabeth (Bischoff) McCabe, Jennifer (Herrmann) Stadler, Meghan (Freed) Walter and Katha Washburn wrote in a statement to VTDigger.

“We stand firmly behind the faculty of Long Trail School who have bravely put their careers on the line to protect the core values and mission of our beloved school,” they said.

The alumni said they’re drafting a petition meant for the independent school’s seven-member board of trustees, which will show how alumni “vigorously support” the faculty and staff.

In their open letter, 26 faculty and staff members are demanding the “unconditional and immediate” resignation of board Chair John Moser. They represent more than half of the school’s total of 49 faculty and staff.

In addition, they’re seeking a mediated forum that will commit to a “360-degree review” of the performance of the headmaster, Seth Linfield, by the end of the school year.

They also want the board’s bylaws to be made public on the school website and to have access to the board’s past and future meeting materials.

If their demands are not met by the end of the school day Oct. 14, the signatories said they won’t enter school facilities the following day.

“We will gather on the school fields to continue student education,” they said. Their two-page letter asks other members of the Long Trail community to join them in the school fields “as we continue to advocate for reform and transparency.”

By Oct. 18, if their demands remain unmet, the signatories said they intend to walk off campus and not return until their concerns are resolved.

The board chair, Moser, said the school has organized a “listening session” Friday for all faculty and staff. He said it will be moderated by a third-party professional and attended by him, other board members and Linfield.

“Within every independent school there are opposing and oftentimes passionate viewpoints,” Moser said in an email. “As stewards of the school it is our duty to listen and respond to these views.”

He said that over the coming days, several board members also will be joining Linfield in meeting with Long Trail parents.

Moser declined to answer specific questions, such as his response to the call for his resignation, saying he first wanted to hold the listening session.

The faculty and staff signatories declined an interview request, saying they wanted to focus on resolving their concerns internally. The group did not respond to whether any of them will attend the listening session Friday.

Linfield responded to a request for comment with an email, saying he is unavailable due to the observation of a religious holiday.

The faculty and staff’s open letter came after two years in which alumni, parents and teachers reportedly tried to get their various issues and concerns addressed by the school board. The timeline of these efforts was publicized Wednesday via a Long Trail alumni Facebook group.

Long Trail, founded in 1975, has 239 students from Vermont, New York and overseas.

If you want to keep tabs on Vermont’s education news, sign up here to get a weekly email with all of VTDigger’s reporting on higher education, early childhood programs and K-12 education policy.

[Read More…]