Upset by what they call a lack of communication by the School Committee and department, a group of parents on Tuesday began a write-in campaign for Jennifer Barsamian days before voters go to the polls.
The town election is Saturday, April 14.
Several parents told committee members at two meetings that there wasn't enough notification of the changes or inclusion of parents in the discussion.
"The public perception of the School Committee has really taken a beating," said Jessica Porter, who is leading the write-in campaign. "In large part that's because the leadership of the School Committee failed to engage the parents and the residents on some really important decisions."
The policy sub-committee, which worked years on formulating the plan, will meet Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at Dedham Middle School.
"As a mother to 3 young children, I’m honored and humbled that the community trusts in my ability and commitment to education," Barsamian posted on her Facebook page Tuesday.
She referred any further comments to Porter in a phone call Tuesday evening.
The School Committee has three seats open with incumbents Kevin Coughlin, Joe Heisler and David Roberts running for re-election. Coughlin chairs the School Committee and Roberts chairs the policy sub-committee.
"At the very least, it is a great way to show the School Committee that they are accountable to us," Porter said. "There are a lot of people that want to be engaged in the process."
"I think when [Barsamian] wants to do something, she gets results," Porter said. "We could have someone who is on the committee who is really committed to engagement in the community."
Porter said through Barsamian's civic efforts, she knows the ways others can help the committee improve the schools.
"The more we can get a broader range of expertise to the table, the better that education will be. I think that's where [the committee] is falling down now," Porter said.
For instance, the school department should've "marketed" the opening of the new Avery Elementary School and should already be developing programs that bring elementary and high school students together - and publicize those efforts, Porter said.
"There are a lot of very committed parents at [Avery]," Porter said. "The community could help the School Committee and help explain what a great place Avery is."
Success of the grassroots campaign certainly will be measured by the number of votes Barsamian receives on Saturday.
But Porter said the effort would be called a success, "If [school officials] decide to revisit their communication strategy and think about how to actively communicate with the public. [...] And looking to where the public can be helpful. I think that is a fundamental thing they are not doing now."
Editor's note: Jessica Porter is a former Dedham Patch columnist.
Jennifer Barsamian provided this comment, which was incidently deleted due to a site technical error:
Sid, Thanks for your comment. I certainly can and will speak for myself, but the reason that someone else spoke for me in this article is that this is a grassroots campaign that was started by a group of concerned parents who wanted to see a change on the School Committee. I've humbly agreed to accept this challenge of a write-in campaign to give parents a choice on Saturday. If you would like more information about me or would like to speak to me directly, I'd be happy to talk. My email is: email@example.com or call me at 617-733-4194. Thank you! Jen Barsamian