The Teachers Association of Newport (TAN) met late last week and took a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Colleen Burns Jermain and Ronilee Mooney, the director of multi-lingual learners (MLL). The vote was unanimous with about two-thirds of the local union membership present.

“We do not take a vote of no confidence lightly,” said TAN President Jennifer Hole. “We have exhausted efforts to compel the superintendent to act in the best interest of students, and with the projected budget cuts facing our district, we felt we had no other choice.”

The members’ concerns are the following:

  1. Mooney has failed to provide the training and professional development necessary to support MLLs, putting the school district’s most vulnerable students at a disadvantage. For our MLLs to be successful they require additional resources and enough trained and qualified educators to teach them.
  2. Burns Jermain has failed to accurately communicate her vision for the district to staff and the community. She restructured – which means eliminated – positions at Pell Elementary School and Thompson Middle School without adequate notice and input from the education professionals who know their students best. The superintendent continually insists that restructuring helps district students, but eliminating the very resources required for their success does not help them at all.
  3. Burns Jermain’s solution to the budget deficit is to eliminate critical supports for the district’s most vulnerable students. She has eliminated reading and math interventionists, behavioral support specialists, and cut critical tiered support for MLL students. These drastic and harmful cuts are a blatant disregard for the numerous post-pandemic studies indicating the high-level of need in all these categories.

“Burns Jermain and Mooney have demonstrated a lack of leadership at every turn. Worse, Burns Jermain has chosen to balance the budget on the backs of students and teachers. She erroneously describes restructuring as a help to our kids while maintaining a bloated Central Administration that is often permitted to work from the comforts of home,” said Hole.

“We have never lost faith in our students and look forward to finishing this school year strong. However, we have lost confidence in Ronilee Mooney and Colleen Burns Jermain. Additionally, TAN has no certainty that the superintendent is capable of properly allocating to student need the potential funding increase of $483,000 if the state budget passes. Currently, it is clear and deplorable that the burden of the superintendent’s proposed budget benefits adults and not students,” continued Hole.

As a show of solidarity on the issues facing their students and the loss of much needed leadership for the district, TAN members will be wearing black starting June 3 through June 7.