A letter to the editor of The Region One Report 4

I too hoped that former Principal Matt Harnett had potential.  I admired that he respected Gale Toensing and that their relationship was about improving education.  Last year Matt and I traded calls going into one of his Steve Hurley testimonials.  Diane Goncalves and Patricia wanted Steve Hurley out but he had a clean file.  I think he was too popular and Diane and Patricia do not like to compete with that.  Diane Goncalves was responsible to evaluate Steve that year.  She failed to do her job yet needed a negative written evaluation to pad Steve Hurley’s file.  So – I am told that Diane directed Matt to create one and Patricia kept the money (our money) flowing so the attorney could polish this fabricated evaluation.  I called Matt and pleaded with him to be a leader – and to not take directives from Superintendent Chamberlain or Diane Goncalves that include non-truth.  But he would not budge. He also did not deny it.  I know of others who tried as well.  Allegedly – some that worked for him refused to speak with him for months afterward.  A group of Steve Hurley’s co-workers stepped forward and wanted to testify on his behalf.  Patricia and  Diane had Scott Fellows (as a union rep) call each one of these teachers to his office where he gave them a talking to.  Diane stood in the doorway for each one.  Intimidation?  In conclusion – Matt Harnett was a tool.  Our students deserve better.
I shared the Becky Hurlburt letter with you a couple of months ago.  The one where she violates important by-laws and bullies Principal Croft regarding CCS Boys Basketball Coach – Michael Pierce.  (The prominent by-law being that Board Members may not, can not – manage the school or staff – even if they have kids at the school.)  The story did not end there.  Becky wanted Michael Pierce out and went after him.  CCS Principal Mike Croft and Athletic Director Dan Carroll created a horribly insulting evaluation that should be the beacon of low points for our CCSPrincipal’s career and Mike Croft can wear that and show up and take our tax dollars – but buddy – you should start apologizing.  When Mike Pierce went to his friends who are Coaches and teachers at CCS for a letter of recommendation to help him fight back – each one said the same thing to him as if scripted:  “I wish I could but I can’t afford to lose my job”.  Retribution.  Did Michael Pierce deserve the negative eval – absolutely not.  I have it.  They gave him zero points for emergency medical training and CPR etc…  He has all those certifications and more as the State requires.  You have to see this document.  Dr. Fitz wrote him a lovely letter of recommendation – as did many of the boys he coached.
I am voting “No” again.  70% of our property tax dollar is this budget.  We want a High School that reflects the great teachers and students and citizens of Region One.  We vote “No” to end this Correctional Facility under this Superintendent and Warden.  Do not buy them out – insist that they go by voting “No”.
Next we should be discussing thorough and acceptable annual financial audit procedures.
Lawrence Van Valkenburgh


  1. While I totally can believe the intimidation that was used to force people to do something they do not want to do or in the case you reference, not do what they feel is right, I personally believe there was a legitimate cause for having this guidance counselor you speak of leave. I knew many students who had him, and I briefly had him myself, and while he was incredibly nice, the fact that a few kids almost did not get into their choice colleges because he had failed to send over his letter to the school and the school files over, despite the fact that the request for all of this was made months in advance, reminders were sent and the colleges actually tried contacting him themselves and did not get anything. However, with that being said, I do know there have been other similar instances with the intimidation from administrators to other teachers, students etc and this can not be allowed to continue. I understand people feel that not passing the budget will hurt the students more, but in all honesty, allowing these people to get away with all of this is what will hurt the students and the school even more. We are this far into it and need to continue to send the same message.

    • This statement is not true. Almost everyone I know who had Mr Hurley was satisfied with how he handled the college process. In fact, I know a couple of others who got into their first choice schools as a result of his recommendation. In my own experience, he completed recommendations promptly, was far more tolerable than his peers about last minute changes, and even helped students of other counselors when they were busy or unavailable. Although there were times he may have come close to missing deadlines, I never heard of a time when whe actually missed one, even in situations when he was asked at the last minute to do something. I have heard of numerous times when other counselors missed deadlines, however. Another point to make is that the secretary often sent out college materials, and some times, grades were not ready to be sent, which I suspect was not any counselor’s fault. Also, most people he wrote recommendations for that I know were given copies. Maybe you should have been more responsible and mailed it yourself, instead of expecting someone else to know your deadlines and requirements.

  2. Hmmm that is a bit rude, but I did mail copies of all of my stuff to every schools months ahead but most schools require having the counselor directly send the rec. He did write a nice rec but it was 5 days past the deadline and the college had my copy of it but they needed it from him and he assured the school directly that he was getting to it, but I called everyday leading up to the deadline and they still did not have it. Others may have had a different experience, and I respect that, but I was only stating what happened to me and people that I knew. He was incredibly nice but I personally had a hard time with getting stuff from him which was very stressful especially since I am so organized and was applying via early action to most schools and had asked for the stuff he personally had to send in July of that year with reminders constantly. I understand things come up and its a lot to do but it was stressful for me and my colleges were also very frustrated with him because I had already interviewed and they all knew how focused I was, so they did not want my application to be denied because it was incomplete. I am happy you had a different experience. I was simply stating my experience as well as some others experience.

    • There were a lot of problems in guidance a couple of years ago, but they were with all counselors. I know there were some problems with sending records electronically, and I recall one time when a counselor sent records and even though the school received them, they had to be re-faxed anyway. It didn’t appear to be anyone’s fault, but rather a glitch. I doubt there were many students whose materials were sent late, and if there were, it would have been noted as a reason to let Mr. Hurly or any other counselor go, rather than have Mr. Harnett lie. Besides, for it to be a reason for someone’s dismissal, it should at least affect a decision – cause someone not to get admitted to a school, when they otherwise would have. You admit yourself that it didn’t affect the decision. Also, if you recall discussions with counselors they always warned how colleges would often state they were missing materials and either need to have them resent, or in many cases, they had them already but just didn’t note it. I suspect counselors sent about 1000 applications out, however, many schools received 10 or 20 times as many applications. Most likely, if there was a mistake, it was on the colleges end – just saying based on probability.

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