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Parents Launch Competing Petitions Over Barnstable Principal's Leave


Two competing petitions are calling for action on Barnstable High School Principal Patrick Clark’s administrative leave.

One asks the Barnstable School Committee to reinstate Clark, whom Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown placed on leave for undisclosed reasons in September; the other asks Clark to sign a release so Mayo-Brown can make the reasons public.

Both are at Change.org.

The first, titled “Vote of No Confidence for Meg Mayo-Brown Superintendent of Barnstable Public Schools,” says the timing of the superintendent’s decision to place the high school principal on leave shows a lack of empathy for students who are already dealing with disruption as school reopens during the pandemic.

“It’s our assertion that the Superintendent has not acted with competence or efficiency,” the petition says.

That petition has about 890 signatures.

Parent Becky DeSouza, who supports Clark, said he shouldn’t have to take all the blame for problems with remote learning last spring and the delayed start this fall.

“The principals of these schools can only do so much,” she said in an interview. “The superintendent is supposed to be the one that's in charge of all of it.”

She said her daughter didn’t get special education services when school went remote last spring, calling the situation “an absolute disaster.”

“The principal has been great about trying to keep all of the parents up to date …but I'm not really seeing much from the superintendent in ways of supporting the parents,” she said. “And, you know, kids are starting to fall through the cracks because of it.”

Although many parents have been frustrated about Barnstable High not starting on time this fall, it’s not clear if that’s why Mayo-Brown made the decision.

Peter Bertling, who started the petition calling for Clark to allow disclosure, said he can’t support other parents’ condemnation of Mayo-Brown without knowing why she put Clark on leave.

“I mean, a lot of people in this town have high regard for him,” he said in an interview. “But you're asking me to support somebody that I don't know that well. And I would like to know more information as to how the decision was made.”

His petition says, “Obviously, Patrick's friends and family support him and claim he is a ‘scapegoat’ and being mistreated by Dr. Mayo-Brown, but the actual FACTS remain to be heard.”

It had 17 signatures as of Thursday morning.

Mayo-Brown said at last week’s School Committee meeting that she is willing to discuss the reasons for Clark’s leave if he signs a release.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.