In their own words: A public records request submitted to the Greenfield Schools produced hundreds of emails between members of the Greenfield School Committee and others. Below are links to a few of the emails with a narrative to help put them into context. Some information identifying private individuals and school employees has been redacted, otherwise all of the emails are published here as written by and shared between the members of the Greenfield School Committee.Literally Howling!
During Amy Proietti's tenure as Chair, the Greenfield School Committee has shown an unprecedented disregard for the voices of its' constituents. On far too many occasions Proietti has abruptly shut down community members during public speak time. These actions by Chair Proietti have made clear that she and majority of the committee feel that listening to the concerns of members of the community is simply a waste of their time.
However, nothing that Proetti has said or done in public session reveals the true depth of her contempt for the opinions of the community as does this email from Proietti to fellow comittee member Susan Eckstrom regarding a complaint submitted by one of the many community members silenced by Proietti when she tried to address the Committee about racial justice.
Proietti writes: "I literally am howling with laughter at this one." Porietti's brevity does not make it clear whether Proietti is howling at (1) the community member, (2) the complaint submitted, (3) the issue of racial justice itself, or (4) all of the above. But her literal howl itself speaks volumes about Proetti's character.
In another email exchange between Proietti and Ecstrom, Eckstrom aptly demonstrates her own reverence for the community as well as her role as a public official subject to the laws of the Commonwealth by succinctly describing unnamed community members as "assh*les" for simply submitting a public records request. In reply Proietti voices her own deep concerns for the process: "Whatever. I don't even care."
I Love to Toy with People!
It isn’t only parents or ordinary private citizens who are subject to Proietti and Eckstrom's exquisite "wit”. In one email Prioetti describes former Greenfield School Committee Chair Tim Farrell as “a petulant child” who “is best ignored”. Susan Eckstrom agrees and responds wryly “I love to toy with people who crave attention.”
Current School Committee members are also subject to Eckstrom and Proietti's mockery. Member Glenn Johnson is a frequent target. In one thread Proietti complains that Johnson is “Pissing me off beyond words” and “his motivations are not putting students first” over his inability to attend a meeting scheduled with less than 24 hours notice; to which Eckstrom adds “Ya think?!?”
You have to do it yourself!
Not even Mayor Roxann Wedegartner is cool enough or smart enough for this set. As Proietti wrote about the Mayor sticking her nose into the issue of the school district's medical staffing “It's frustrating to feel like if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” Eckstrom responds the Mayor doesn’t understand the “nuances” of her own primary concern about medical safety for Greenfield’s students during the pandemic: that any new nursing staff will be “sucked into the union”.
Blah Blah Blah
Apparently it doesn't matter to Susan Eckstrom that Greenfield families are going hungry during the pandemic or that the district's employees worked hard to help alleviate the suffering. All that appears to matter to Eckstrom is that she can take personal credit for their work on her own Facebook page. Here is Eckstrom's response to an email from Community Action thanking the Superintendent and the district's facilities staff for helping support a food pantry in the schools for the previous five months.
In her email Eckstrom admits she didn't know anything about it, even though she was on the school committee and the pantry's relocation to the schools was the subject of at least three (3) different articles in the Greenfield Recorder (here, here and here), featured on television in a WWLP news story and covered in other media outlets. Eckstrom demands to know: "How long have they been there and what have they been doing?"
Yet, despite her complete ignorance and lack of any involvement whatsoever, and regardless of the fact that the work had already received extensive coverage by nearly every relevant news outlet and on social media, Eckstrom wants to take full credit for herself on her own Facebook campaign page: "I wanna promote this on my school comm Facebook. During this time the district has had the wonderful privilege of x blah blah blah"
She’s squirming and I need to have a little fun with it!
Many folks have been wondering why Superintendent Harper resigned in the middle of the school year. Emails between Proietti and Eckstrom may provide some rationale for Harper's decision.
While a superintendent is the boss of teachers and most other school employees, the school committee oversees the superintendent and usually the day to day oversight of the superintendent is performed by the committee chair.
It's one thing for a state or municipal public official to be a bully. Many people accused former Mayor Martin of just that behavior. But it is quite another for a school district to be run by bullies. When school officials are bullying and belittling their employees and even trying to steal credit for the work they've done, from the Superintendent to teachers to custodians, eventually it establishes a climate in our schools where bullying is tolerated and our students subjected to the same abusive behaviors modeled by Proietti and Eckstrom.
In this regard there are a number of emails produced by the public records request in which Proietti and Eckstrom actively sought to belittle, undermine and bully Superintendent Harper, but many involve their sharing of Harper’s confidential information between themselves to do so. However, this one in particular (redacted to protect school employee confidentiality) perfectly sums up their treatment of the former Superintendent...
At 7:28 pm on October 7, 2020 Proietti wrote to Eckstrom about Harper: "She's squirming and I need to have a little fun with it."
Other emails between committee members show that during Chair Proietti’s tenure and with her knowledge, members of the Greenfield School Committee appear to be violating the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law on an almost regular basis.
Here’s an example: Member Susan Hollins, who has been repeatedly chastised for breaking open meeting law in the past, nonetheless decided to use her personal email to engage in deliberations about school redistricting with Member Jean Wall. This is a clear violation of the law because Wall and Hollins constitute a quorum of that subcommittee. (That’s probably why Hollins used her personal email account instead of her school committee account.) Wall in turn joins in the law breaking and forwards the Hollins email using her own personal email to Proietti’s personal email.
Instead of reminding Wall or Hollins of their obligations under the law, Proietti commends their secret deliberations and responds: I think this is all helpful information...
This raises the question: How often are these politicians using their personal emails or texts to evade Massachusetts sunshine laws? We know about this instance only because Proietti screwed up and forwarded it to her offical account. (Probably thinking that no one would ever see it anyhow...)
Well, what are YOU going to do about it?
If you are offended by the bullying and illegal behaviors of these politicians, you can help further expose their wrongdoing by submiting your own public records request for more of their communications. Here’s a link to the Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law.
It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s pretty darn easy! Ask for any or all school committee member emails. However, there will be fee. But if you keep your request short and simple like: “All emails between Amy Proietti and Susan Eckstrom between March 1, 2021 and March 7, 2021 … or “All emails from Susan Hollins' personal account,” it will only cost a few bucks at the most and the district will be required to provide you with an estimate of the cost before they charge you anything.
You may be shocked or appalled by what you discover these politicians are up to through your own public records request . . . probably even more than what we've exposed so far.
But if you are, please let us know! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share what you’ve found and we will post it on this website.
Ya'll Come Back Soon!
The public records request that turned up these emails was very limited, and yet we still have more to read through and share with the Greenfield community. We will be posting more as time permits and we will also post what community members share with us from their own records requests. So please check back soon as this is work in progress!
In the meantime, please don't forget what Justice Brandeis wrote about Sunlight.