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School superintendent loses job offer after he calls ladies 'ladies': Report

Composite screenshot of Western Mass News YouTube video(Featured: Vito Perrone)

A prospective school superintendent in Massachusetts claimed that he lost the new job offer he had been given after he included a "microaggression" in a recent email to some members of the school committee.

On March 24, the Easthampton School Committee in Easthampton, Massachusetts, voted 4-3 to name Vito Perrone the district's new superintendent to replace current superintendent Allison LeClair, who will retire in just a few months. Perrone served as the principal of Easthampton High School from 2009 until 2015 and currently serves as the interim superintendent of West Springfield Public Schools, a district about 15 miles south of Easthampton.

"I honestly felt like I was coming home to Easthampton," Perrone said. "I coached football here. I was principal here when we built the school. I have such wonderful memories … I was excited to come back."

Though he and the Easthampton district were still negotiating his contract, Perrone immediately began mingling with members of the Easthampton community. Last Thursday, he attended a We the People spaghetti fundraiser at Easthampton High School to interact with students and staff. However, members of the Easthampton School Committee cornered Perrone at the fundraiser and, during a lengthy discussion in private, informed Perrone that his job offer had been rescinded.

According to Perrone, committee members were incensed that he had addressed Chairperson Cynthia Kwiecinski and Suzanne Colby, an executive assistant to the committee, as "ladies" in a recent email.

"I grew up in a time in the '60s and '70s when ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ was a sign of respect," Perrone explained. "I didn’t intend to insult anyone."

However, the committee considered "ladies" a "microaggression" and claimed that "as an educator," Perrone should have known better than to use it. Though Perrone reached out to the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents for help, the association claimed that Perrone had no legal recourse against Easthampton since he had never actually signed a contract.

Perrone, who was willing to take a $14,000 pay cut for the Easthampton position, said he is frustrated by the way the process unfolded. "I don't want people to think I was not willing to negotiate in good faith. I have chosen not to just leave it as 'negotiations stalled,'" he stated. "I would rather share my truth, my sadness and disappointment, and try to find a way forward positively."

Kwiecinski and fellow Easthampton School Committee member Marin Goldstein stated that they could not comment on executive sessions. The committee is scheduled to meet virtually on Tuesday, and discussing and perhaps even voting on a superintendent candidate is listed on the agenda.

On Monday, the evening before that meeting, some members of the Easthampton community plan to protest the committee's decision not to hire Perrone. Perrone said that he will likely return to his former position as assistant superintendent of West Springfield, a position he held before he was named interim superintendent.

"Honestly, I am truly, truly disappointed that I won't be in Easthampton in that building," Perrone stated. "I'm just sad."

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