JAY – Jay Education Association members have overwhelmingly given a no-confidence vote to the Jay school superintendent and School Committee.

The vote, taken after school Friday and Monday by secret ballot, was conducted on a school-by-school basis, JEA President Sherry Gilbert said.

She said the negative vote was by a “dramatic overwhelming” number. Ninety-eight of the 100 union members had voted as of Monday afternoon. Each member knew what he or she was voting on, she said.

According to a JEA press release, “Superintendent Stephen Cottrell and the Jay School Committee have presided over a school system that has shown a significant decline and deterioration in staff morale over the last three years.”

Clint Brooks, chairman of the School Committee, reached at work Monday night, said he would respond at an appropriate time. He said it was awful lot for him to take in at this time.

Cottrell said he had no comment at this time.

JEA believes Cottrell and the committee have failed to administrate and model a vision for the Jay schools that will result in the recruitment and retention of quality educators and support personnel, the release stated.

Several staff members have told her, Gilbert said, that they’re looking elsewhere for a job. They don’t feel supported by administration and the School Committee, she said.

“They’re not happy with the lack of leadership,” she said.

Gilbert presented resignations from nearly 100 staff members, mostly unpaid positions, from various committees and extracurricular activities, to School Committee members last Thursday.

“I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen,” Gilbert said. “We have dynamite teachers in our school system. Teachers coming to speak to me are part of those great teachers.”

JEA members also cite that the superintendent and School Committee have “shown no interest and have demonstrated no support and guidance in efforts of the teachers to reach a fair contract settlement so that educators can devote their complete and undivided attention to the business of serving students.”

JEA also believes Cottrell and the School Committee recently did not follow their adopted policies regarding “misuse of the district’s e-mail and Internet systems. They also believe officials “failed to properly investigate a matter of serious consequence regarding a communication of a threat of violence about a Jay staff member, failed to initiate appropriate sanctions and discipline to the sender of the inappropriate, threatening message about staff members, thus establishing a terrible example for the students and staff in our Jay school system,” according to the release.

School Committee member Robin Roberts sent an e-mail to High School Principal Peter Brown that included so-called “threatening remarks” about high school teacher Rob Taylor that eventually landed in JEA’s hands.

“It is the position of an overwhelming majority of the members of the Jay Education Association that we, as the professional association representing the Jay teaching staff, have no confidence in Superintendent Stephen Cottrell and the Jay School Committee to establish a K-12 educational system that adequately meets the educational needs of students, staff, and the Jay school community,” the release stated.

“We urge parents, voters, and taxpayers present in the Jay school community to make the necessary changes to restore the Jay school system back to the proud, high quality school system that was present just a few short years ago so that we, the professional educators of the Jay schools, can meet the ever increasing needs of our students and help prepare our young people to become productive, well-rounded citizens,” the release stated.

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