The husband of embattled high school teacher Deb Cassidy told the Board of Education this week that his wife is a devoted, caring educator, one the school system should keep on staff.
"The first line in the (district's) Code of Ethics says 'I will think of the children first.' That's all my wife has done since she started teaching 30 years ago and all she cares about are her kids at Berlin High School," Kevin Cassidy told the board at its meeting Monday.
The district's recent decision not to rehire Cassidy touched off a sit-in protest by some 100 students about two weeks ago. A day after that protest Cassidy was suspended and is being investigated by the school system, whose administrators are calling her a "disturbance to the learning process at the high school," her husband said.
He was one of two people to address the board Monday to air his concerns about how administrators are treating Cassidy.
"I just don't understand how you can not keep a great teacher like Mrs. Cassidy when there are so many horrible teachers at the high school," Berlin High School student Patrick Veley told the board. "I went through some serious problems and she was the only person in the school who took the time to listen to me. She helped me so much and now to hear she doesn't fit the vision of the school according to Mr. Kennedy doesn't make any sense."
Board President Gary Brochu thanked Veley for his comments but Veley pushed further.
"Is anybody going to respond to what I just said or is it going to be like I thought, no one wants to listen?"
"First I want to tell you that we, as a board, cannot comment on the situation because it may come to us at some time for us to rule on," he said. "I will tell you this. There is nothing in front of this board to act on as far as that teacher goes."
Cassidy's husband then addressed the Board.
"She was one of 26 teachers in the country to be asked to make a video on how to teach teachers when she was teaching in Massachusetts. She doesn't want to leave because she cares so much about those kids at Berlin High School. She is involved in UpBeat and goes to athletic games and plays because she considers them like her own kids."
He gave the board a handout - you can view a PDF file of it above. It includes some of Cassidy's teaching accomplishments and performance reviews that were conducted by the high school's principal, Francis Kennedy.
He said school administrators, particularly Kennedy, has robbed his wife of the joy of her life and done so without telling her why, "other than saying she doesn't fit the vision of the school.
"They walked her out of the school like a criminal. They took her keys and walked her out. She talked to her union rep because she wanted to put in the grades for the kids in her class so she needed access to the school computer but they locked her out. When she talked to the state union rep, he said he knew Kennedy because he did the same thing when he went to Stafford. He went in and laid a bunch of teachers off. Why? Was she too popular? We have no answers."
Kennedy and the school system asked three non-tenured teachers to resign and two of them have done so. Cassidy is the only one who refuses to resign.
"She doesn't feel like there is any reason for her to resign," Kevin Cassidy said.
When asked what her next action would be, Cassidy said his wife is ready for the events to be behind her.
"She could file a grievance but she won't do that," he said. "She misses the kids awfully and I see it. But she won't drag this out because she doesn't believe it will go her way. All she wants to do is teach at Berlin High School.
"Kennedy told the union rep at the high school that if my wife would hand in her resignation, that he would write her a 'factual' recommendation letter. As opposed to a non-factual? My wife doesn’t need a letter from him. She already has former staff and principals that are willing to do that.
"This is just crazy. Ask them about the so-called investigation. Ask them how she would be a disturbance to the school. Ask about the band director being disciplined because on a very rainy night at a football game, he chose not to have his kids perform thinking not only of them but what would happen to the instruments."