Matt Lebretton Responses to Supplemental Questions

The Hingham Public Schools Equity & Inclusion Working Group was formed in 2019 and has been charged with conducting an Equity Audit of the district’s operations, programs, and services. The Working Group pledges to “challenge ourselves to regularly evaluate and refine curricula, policies, practices and procedures and commit to providing the appropriate services and resources to ensure every student has what they need to perform at their optimal level.” What is one specific policy, practice, or procedure that you would modify to ensure students are able to reach their full potential?

Horace Mann once said that “Education, then, beyond all other divides of human origin, is the great equalizer of conditions of man”. The education offered in Hingham is the number one reason my family (and many other families I have talked to) chose this town. We are doing a good job in Hingham supporting our students, teachers and staff but we can do better particularly as it relates to special education.

Equity means understanding each person has a different situation, a unique set of circumstances, and as a school system we need to allocate the resources needed to allow every student to succeed. This isn’t a cookie cutter solution. It is one that requires a great deal of trust, communication, and accountability.

In order for students to be able to reach their full potential, there are a few policies I’d like the School Committee to look at:

I believe we have a crisis in special education and that the new Superintendent needs to make special education programming a top priority.

I think in Hingham we need to make sure we are offering Professional Development that focuses more on special education.

I also believe we need to make sure IEPs are being implemented with fidelity and if they are not we, as a district, need to do whatever necessary to make sure we are following the law.

I believe the district should start evaluating how we level not only in policy but in practice. Many parents are confused by the practice and don’t have a clear understanding what criteria is used by staff when they make recommendations. I have been told by many parents that special education students are often tracked out of AP classes. Are we looking at a12-year-old child and limiting their potential based on how they present as a middle schooler? As we know changes come quickly in children and young adults. Moreover, we need to celebrate a child’s strength while working with them to tackle challenges.

Lasty, I want to HEAR from parents’ teachers and students about SPED. As a school we must NEVER be satisfied with baby steps. Our kids don’t have time to wait for a 3–5-year plan. They need accountability NOW! We need a clear plan to increase reading scores, MCAS scores, have more students with disabilities in AP classes NOW.

There is a significant shortage of paraeducators in the district. Feedback we have received is that paraeducators feel undervalued by administrators’ unwillingness to negotiate a higher living wage. Hiring has been difficult as well, primarily for this reason. How would you address this ongoing issue and ensure paraeducators feel valued in our district?

We need to look at our compensation models for paraeducators. A barista, as hard working as one is, should not out earn an educator in a classroom. Paraeducators need to feel appreciated, welcomed as an integral part of the educational framework.

What are your thoughts on HPS developing its own vocational-technical programming?

I would encourage a discussion of the School Committee, to consider setting up a vocational studies sub-committee in the fall. We will need to work diligently to explore the best options on how to offer opportunities to our students. I think this work is critical to having meaningful DEI work. Students need to be able to pursue their passion in a supportive environment that prepares them for an independent future. There are many things happening nationally, statewide, and regionally on workforce development issues and a number of them are geared towards vocational/technical training. Our kids that want to go down that path should be applauded and encouraged just as we do those that pursue a dream in the arts or teaching.