Holliston Educators Vote "No Confidence" in Superintendent

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Holliston educators took an overwhelming vote of ‘no confidence’ in Dr. Susan Kustka as the Superintendent of Holliston Public Schools.
Citing the Superintendent’s failure to provide a supportive work environment within Holliston Public Schools (HPS) where educators feel safe and can flourish, 98% of the voting members of the Holliston Federation of Teachers voted “no confidence” in Dr. Kustka as the Superintendent of Holliston Public Schools. The vote, held by secret ballot over the past week, was 303 votes of “no confidence” to just seven votes of confidence.

“Holliston educators care deeply about the future of our school district. Our school community deserves a leader who is able to prioritize developing relationships and can effectively collaborate with all members of our school community,” said Holliston Federation of Teachers President Jaime Cutone. “The membership of the Holliston Federation of Teachers is united in our view that we have no confidence in the leadership ability of Dr. Susan Kustka. It is time that the School Committee hear our concerns and take action to address the issues brought forward.”
“Holliston Public Schools raised me. Our teachers, our support staff, and our administrators worked as one to serve the students,” said a Robert Adams Middle School educator who wishes to remain anonymous. “Never did I ever imagine feeling the tension and sadness our Superintendent fosters; and that’s exactly what our students are being exposed to now.”
“Students are no longer at the center of decisions being made at the administrative level,” said a Placentino Elementary School educator who asked to remain anonymous. Their sentiments were echoed by another Placentino colleague, who said “Holliston Public Schools deserve a leader whose main priority is helping the kids, not their own agenda.”
Educators say that major issues with the Superintendent’s leadership include:   

  • Educator Voice: Dr. Kustka has demonstrated an unwillingness to value educator voice, by not addressing concerns brought forth by educators that directly impact students and by not including educator voice in decision making.
  • Collaboration & Communication: Dr. Kustka has demonstrated an inability to take responsibility for and effectively acknowledge and resolve work-related issues.
  • Professionalism: Dr. Kustka has demonstrated an inability to consistently maintain the professionalism that is expected by public school educators.
  • Retention Crisis: Dr. Kustka has demonstrated an inability to take responsibility for the high rate of loss of valuable educators within Holliston Public Schools, and has been unwilling to create a plan that addresses significant retention issues throughout the district that are leading to high turnover rates. In a school district with 375 staff positions, we have had 216 new staff members in the past 2 ½ years.
  • Equity: Dr. Kustka has demonstrated an unwillingness to create and uphold an equitable work environment by making decisions that promote deeper inequities.

"A leader's number one responsibility is to foster connection, trust, deep listening and empathy across their organization. Dr. Kustka not only falls short, but she openly denies these duties as her responsibility,” said a Holliston High School educator who wishes to remain anonymous. “Our students and our town deserve better.”
“I joined the Holliston Public Schools with enthusiasm, understanding that it is a collaborative and student-centered environment,” said an HPS educator who asked to remain anonymous. “I have seen staff morale plummet in the past two years as educators' voices have been stifled, their expertise questioned, and their creativity stripped away. Educators who work in fear of the administration are not able to teach effectively or innovatively; ultimately, student learning outcomes suffer.”

The feelings of the membership are summed up by Holliston Federation of Teachers Vice President Amanda Rivera, who said: “This is a difficult day for the Holliston community. No educator wanted to have to take this vote in order to get action on these leadership issues that are negatively impacting students and staff. The Holliston Federation of Teachers has been trying for the past two years to explain to Dr. Kustka and the School Committee our concerns with her leadership style, her opinions about our district and its educators, her educational priorities, and the direction she is taking our schools that have always been treasured for their creativity, innovative programming and long-standing expert staff. Our hope is that this vote gets the School Committee to take seriously the voices of the educators in Holliston who are deeply committed to the success and well-being of their students and colleagues.”