The Mill River School District has a serious problem on their hands. Under the leadership of Superintendent David Younce, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has been intentionally circumvented. This is blatantly breaking the law. The story reported in the Rutland Herald explains the series of emails directing educators to not seek, and additionally discourage parents, from seeking special education evaluations. There is no way around it. This act constitutes a breaking of the law.

Younce tried to explain away his actions by stating that there was not enough money to hire additional personnel. However, in a public testimony document submitted by David Younce to The House Education Committee on Jan. 23, 2019, he states clearly that, “We save money every year (average since the merger has included $250,000 to $800,000 surplus at budget end). Those savings generally emerge through operational efficiencies in the buildings and ground realm (through staffing, purchasing, etc.) and better use of our staff across the district in order to ensure that adults are where the students need them to be, and in the correct allocations.” Younce’s testimony, along with his recent spending spree of hiring a communications director, hiring his wife as the school nurse (which he violated MRUUSD board policy D17 section 8) and funding a new logo design and rebranding, begs the following questions; 1. How is there not enough money to support the director of student services with additional staff? 2. Why is there not enough money to support the MRUUSD students? 3. Is MRUUSD for supporting the students of our next generation, or not? 4. Or is Superintendent Younce simply falsifying the monetary surplus in his testimony?

These aforementioned emails, and Younce’s recorded diatribe reported by the Rutland Herald, lend more questions to Younce’s ability to effectively manage staff and stay compliant with ALL laws. It has been reported that Younce was a listed recipient of all these emails. After “the first red flag email” was sent, and called for breaking laws, why did Younce not intervene and provide additional support to the director of student services with the surplus budgetary monies? Does this make Younce complicit?

Younce states in the recording that he has “all of the power” and he “can do whatever” he wants. Does this include picking and choosing which policies or laws he decides to follow and which ones he decides just aren’t that important? Could Younce’s berating of teachers psychologically compliment the intention to instill a culture of fear? Does this culture of fear allow Younce to operate this type of agenda? The general feeling is that these stories are linked.

Finally, the board attorney states that these were poorly written emails. Any email that is designed to cut corners and break the law is a poorly written email no matter who wrote it. Our question is, who, ultimately, gave the order? Could it be the one who stated “I can do whatever I want”?

The public must take a stand. We request that the MRUUSD School Board clearly and publicly respond to this situation. Please attend the next MRUUSD School Board meeting, March 20, 2019, at Clarendon Elementary School at 7 p.m.

Michael Spafford is a resident of Clarendon and is a parent of a Mill River Union High School student.

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