Scholarship Foundation Annual Antique Show at HHS Sat and Sun, Feb 25. 26

School Commitee Meets, January 3, 2013

by Erica Plunkett
January 5, 2013

 New security systems in the schools and special educaion were topics discussed.


The meeting opened with general good wishes for the New Year.  The Committee went a little out of order on the agenda, taking care of housekeeping issues and a brief statement by Dr. Jackson on the new security measures in place at Placentino, Miller, and Adams.  These schools now have buzzer systems in place, with a receptionist in each lobby.  Additionally, specific protocols are being developed for entry into these schools.  Dr. Jackson will be meeting, as he has since he arrived in Holliston, with Police Chief Moore and Fire Chief Cassidy to review security and bring any further recommendations to the School Committee.  Additionally, he is finalizing review of the purchase of an Employee ID system to print picture IDs for all employees to be worn at all times.  Please note: not all security enhancements will be publicly announced, as acknowledging the existence of a security device or procedure may undermine its effectiveness.
Dr. Jackson reiterated his belief (editorial note: and mine) that research indicates that the most effective way to keep children safe in school is to ensure that each student has a trusted adult in whom they can confide and that that adult knows what to do with information that suggests someone is planning to do harm.  Holliston Public Schools, Holliston Police, Holliston Fire, Holliston Youth and Family Services, and the Middlesex County Attorney’s Office and Probation Departments formally meet every month to discuss at-risk students and at-risk families.  These meetings have been taking place since Dr. Jackson arrived in Holliston nine years ago.  They are supplemented by continual and informal exchanges of information that take place between these organizations to ensure that at-risk students and families are getting the support they need in both school and the community.    The physical and emotional safety is at the core of our schools and our community.
 The Committee then reorganized for the main presentation of the evening: a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Jackson on issues in Special Education.  This panel came about from conversations between Mrs. Plunkett and Dr. Jackson, who recognized a need to educate the public (and the Committee) on the complexity of issues surrounding this topic.  (The discussion can be seen on Holliston School Committee replays, and HCAT is also making the link available through the District website shortly).  The session is well worth taking the time to watch. 
 As Dr. Jackson noted, over 15% of Holliston’s students qualify for Special Education services, yet there is no other educational issue in our community with more mystery and misperceptions.  While the discussion itself was too long to summarize, the panelists introduced by Dr. Jackson included: Dr. Perry Davis, a retired School Superintendent whose distinguished career in education spans decades.  Dr. Davis served the communities of Dover and Sherborn as their Superintendent as well as serving as Superintendent in King Phillip Regional School District.  Prior to his Superintendencies, Dr. Davis served as Director of Special Education in the Northborough-Southborough Regional School District.  Dr. Davis is currently serving school districts as an educational consultant, although, as a Holliston resident, Dr. Davis has volunteered his time to serve on this panel.  We are very grateful for his time and expertise.
Next, is Holliston’s current Director of Student Support Services, Dr. Sandra Einsel.  Dr. Einsel has served Holliston and other Metrowest communities in this capacity for over a decade.  Dr. Einsel received her Ph.D. from Boston College and has worked in the Special Education field for her entire career in education.
 Ms. Leslie Leslie is the Coordinator of the MassPAC project at the Boston-based Federation for Children with Special Needs.  MassPAC project provides technical assistance to Special Education Parent Advisory Councils throughout the state. She is the parent of two special needs children and lives in nearby Westborough.
 The last Panelist is the President of Holliston’s Special Needs Advisory Council, Ms. Beth Sherr.  Ms. Sherr has been an active parent in the Holliston Public Schools and has been kind enough to continue in her role as President of our Special Needs Advisory Council even though her youngest child graduated from Holliston High School several years ago.
 Dr. Jackson, Mrs. Plunkett, and the entire School Committee are extraordinarily appreciative of the time, dedication, and information that these professionals brought to the discussion.  If you find yourself with a free hour, please take advantage of the HCAT taping.  Many community members will learn a lot.  And of course, please direct any questions to Dr. Jackson, Mrs. Plunkett, or any member of Central Office or the School Committee.
 The next School Committee meeting is January 24th.  Central to the agenda is a review of the January 18th Professional Development Day and the mid-year Principal reports on School Improvement Plans. 
Kindest regards,
Erica Plunkett
Chair, Holliston School Committee
DID YOU KNOW?..... that Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to guarantee all students a Free and Appropriate Education, regardless of their disability and that our law became the model for the national Special Education laws?
And, Did You Also Know…. that the Feds who created IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) were supposed to fund it at 25%.  States are currently receiving significantly less than that.
Finally, Did You Know… that all of the Special Education programs that we've developed here in Holliston have two benefits:  first, they allow us to serve more of our Special Education population in their own schools and second, they are significantly less expensive than sending a student to an out-of-district placement?" 
I apologize, I may not be able to answer your email immediately.  I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Erica S. Plunkett (Chair, Holliston School Committee)


Posted in Schools.

E-mail This Article

Comments (2)

Locking a door, wearing an I.D. badge and putting MORE security in place to an already Unsecure location is not irrational. . just pro-active.Think about it. .I am sure you lock your doors.. and if not you should.... no one has said any thing about putting irrational fears into students. . this is just a sign of the times, and MUST be done...

- sue | 1/7/13 3:35 PM

I support the superintendent's and Ms. Plunkett's researched-based views on student security. Very refreshing. Too bad others in this town are hysterical, bent on passing on their own irrational fears and anxieties onto kids.

- mudville resident | 1/7/13 1:48 PM



Recent Articles by Erica Plunkett:

The School Budget

As a result of recent and unanticipated increases in the cost and number of students in out-of-District Special Education placements and a less than 1% increase in State Aid for Education, Holliston Schools are faced with an extraordinary budget gap of nearly $1 million.


Continue ...

May 15, 2014 School Committee Meeting

Finalizing the positions to be eliminated- this process is ongoing and highly dependent on two factors that remain open,

Continue ...

May 1, 2014 School Committee Meeting

In commenting on the FY15Budget, Dr. Jackson noted there are still some moving parts (School Choice seats, final budget number from the state) that may leave opportunities to make adjustments to a voted budget. But right now, at this point in time, it is important for the School Committee to have a budget that Town Meeting will appropriate, at the level that the Finance Committee has brought forward of 1.5%.

Continue ...

April 17: School Committee Meeting

The School Committee meeting opened with general comments and a specific one from audience member, Joan Sousa.


Continue ...

Plunkett Folds Them; Ends Race

A very wise person and a dear friend quoted Kenny Rogers to me the other day: ”You gotta know when to hold them and when to fold them.”


Continue ...


Recent Articles in Schools:

School Committee News

by Press Release

Holliston School Committee News School Committee Newsletter Issue #7 -- February 16, 2017 In This Issue: Budget Update, Sleep and School Start Times, Field House Q & A

Continue ...

Holliston School Committee News

by Lisa Kocain

School Committee Newsletter Issue #6 -- February 3, 2017 Special Edition: Budget Update

Continue ...

Important Dates for Holliston Kindergarten Registration

by Faith Antonioli

Children entering Kindergarten must be 5 years old by September 1, 2017

Continue ...

Holliston School Committee News

by Lisa Kocian

Continue ...

Destination Imagination Performances This Sunday @ Middle School

by Paul Saulnier

Continue ...