School Committee Rescinds Job Offer Over The Word “Ladies”

School Committee Rescinds Job Offer Over The Word Ladies

The Easthampton School Committee is facing backlash for rescinding a job offer for a Superintendent candidate who used the word “ladies” in an email, claiming that the term was offensive.
Superintendent candidate Dr. Vito Perrone has received an outpouring of support in recent days after he learned that his job offer to be Easthampton Superintendent had been abruptly rescinded. Soon after he lost the offer, Perrone learned that the School Committee’s reason was a perceived microaggression made by Perrone in an email, in which he referred to several women as “ladies.”
Perrone, who currently serves as Interim Superintendent in West Springfield and previously served as the principal of Easthampton High School, applied to fill the role of Superintendent for Easthampton when the position became open in 2022. Perrone received an offer for the position, and entered negotiations with the School Committee after learning that the salary for the job was smaller than that of his position in West Springfield. Although he would be earning less than he had been in his position at the time, he still maintained an interest in the job.
“This job was not about the money for me,” Perrone told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “I honestly felt like I was coming home to Easthampton. I have such wonderful memories … I was excited to come back,” Perrone, alluding to his experiences in Easthampton as the city’s high school principal, explained.
According to Perrone, members of the School Committee took issue with one email Perrone sent while negotiating for higher pay in which Perrone used the word “ladies” to address Cynthia Kwiecinski and Suzanne Colby, who currently serve as Chairperson and Executive Assistant of the Committee, respectively.
The Willistonian reached out to both Committee members, but neither responded with a comment.
Perrone alleges that members of the Committee told him that the term “ladies” was a microaggression and had offensive connotations, citing the term as the reason for the offer being withdrawn.
“[They] explained to me that they were insulted by the address, and I [told them that] I grew up in a time the sixties seventies when ladies and gentlemen was a term of respect,” Perrone told Western Mass News on Sunday, April 2.
Perrone says he attempted to make amends after the alleged incident, but his apology was not accepted by the committee.
“I didn’t mean to insult [them but] I was basically told my apology didn’t mean anything and they were going to rescind the offer,” Perrone said.
Since the incident was first reported, many in the Easthampton community have reacted with outrage, with some seeing the School Committee’s reversal as an example of cancel culture.
In response to the incident many Easthampton residents have turned to protesting to show their support for Perrone and outrage at the School Committee, with many signs of support showing up throughout Easthampton.
On April 2, more than 150 people, among them community members, teachers, and even strangers from as far away as the United Kingdom, gathered in front of the Easthampton Municipal Building, some holding signs that read “Don’t Veto Vito” and “Education not Cancellation.”
In recent days, the story and claims of cancel culture linked to it have also reached an international audience, with articles about the incident appearing in the UK’s Daily Mail, as well as Fox News and the New York Post.
Soon after the School Committee’s decision sparked outrage, the search for a superintendent has continued, as members of the Committee voted not to continue negotiations with Perrone.
On April 9, after continued discussions, the Committee made the decision to offer the position of superintendent to Erica Faginszki-Stark, who is the current director of curriculum and instruction in Ludlow, according to Faginszki-Stark is expected to accept the offer pending negotiations.
After the Committee’s final decision to extend the offer to Faginski-Stark, some in the Easthampton community have questioned whether this was the best option, with some calling the offer the second-best option.
One member of the Easthampton School Committee who requested to remain anonymous believes that this decision the city came to was the right one.
“I don’t necessarily see this as us choosing the second best person. I think for better or worse, messy definitely, this process has been at this point, we have three candidates in front of us and we are trying to find in this moment, … who is the right candidate,” the committee member said.