Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another New Job for Tom Gavin

Once upon a time, the Hudson City School District had an alternative learning program that was housed in trailers behind the Greenport School, and Thomas Gavin was the program's principal. By all accounts, he was good at his job, and students in the program did well under his leadership. 

Then long about 2009, HCSD discontinued the alternative learning program, for budgetary reasons, and Gavin was out of a job. He had the rank of principal, and there was no going back. He was tenured, but there was no building or program in HCSD that needed a principal. So, Jack Howe, then superintendent of HCSD, came up with the idea, which the Board of Education approved, of making Gavin co-principal of Hudson High School, sharing the position with Steven Spicer who had recently been promoted into that position. It should have been obvious that this solution was a recipe for disaster, but it wasn't. Gavin and Spicer didn't get along. In November 2010, the two of them had an altercation during a BOE meeting, and Spicer filed charges against Gavin for second-degree aggravated harassment and petitioned the court for an order of protection.

After a few weeks, that problem was resolved. Spicer would be principal of John L. Edwards Primary School (Carol Gans had officially resigned as principal of JLE but was still working in that job and being paid $1,000 a week--in addition to her pension--to do so), and Gavin would be sole principal of Hudson High. 

All seemed well until the fall of 2012, when Gavin was charged with sexual harassment, and it turned out his accuser was HSCD superintendent Maria Suttmeier. Gavin was suspended and spent several months on paid leave from HCSD before he was reassigned to Questar III BOCES.

When the new alternative learning program known as "The Bridge" opened at the beginning of February 2014 in at 364 Warren Street, Gavin was building principal. Now, as reported in the Register-Star today, the New York State Department of Education has determined that Gavin cannot keep that job because he is not an employee of the Berkshire Union Free School District, which actually runs and staffs the program: "Gavin out as Bridge school principal." 

According to the article, Gavin was offered a job as principal with the Berkshire Union Free School District, which would have allowed him to continue as principal of The Bridge, but he refused. Instead, it is reported that "Gavin will serve as a secondary school principal on special assignment to focus on district dropout-rate reduction and prevention." Suttmeier indicated that Gavin will be expected to "bring students back into the district that would have graduated in 2014, who would be able to earn credits through the district's Apex Learning online credit recovery courses" and "to ensure that necessary Regents Review courses are in place for students who have returned to school or are in danger of dropping out."

According to the website SeeThroughNY, Gavin was paid $127,658 in 2013.


  1. The 4 year graduation rate for ALP was 88%. That's over 30 points higher than Hudson High School. The district cut ALP by taking the $400,000 appropriated by the State to fund the program and put it into the general fund to make sure athletics and college level classes remained for the high school population of students. The students who were at ALP were thrown back into the regular population. As a result over 95% of them dropped out. So we went from an 88% graduation rate to a 95% drop out rate.
    The students were promised that certain "safety nets" would be in place but that NEVER was even attempted.

    At some point the "at risk" students will be given an equal chance to succeed. Unfortunately that's not that case at this time.

  2. Tom and I have had many disagreements over the years, but the termination of the Alternative Learning Program at Greenport (yes, in trailers) was one of this district's most egregious mistakes (and we have made many). I was on the school board at the time and watched -- outvoted at every turn -- as school leaders made one bad decision after another, resulting in high school anarchy that lead to a board meeting at which two principals engaged in shoving match.... Why this district keeps shooting itself in the foot -- hurting kids and wasting taxpayer money in the process -- is the $43 million question. --peter meyer