June 18, 2013
Written by Greenwich Post staff
Friday, 20 May 2011 09:15
Like a shock wave, the news spread through Greenwich that the seemingly unthinkable had happened.
Sid Freund was leaving.One of the most visible figures in town as the superintendent of schools, Dr. Freund was entrusted as the captain of the ship that is our children’s public school education. The importance of this job cannot be overestimated, and to say that people were left dumbfounded by his sudden resignation is putting it mildly. The announcement seemed to come out of nowhere and the immediate aftermath has been troubling.
We don’t know exactly why Dr. Freund is leaving. In his resignation letter he cited “personal and professional” reasons and left it at that. As of Wednesday he had made no further public comment and offered no additional explanation. It was up to others to try and make sense of what happened, and that’s when the finger pointing began.
Blame was laid at the doorsteps of Board of Education members Marianna Ponns Cohen and Peter Sherr. Their crime? They weren’t on board with the plan to expand the International Baccalaureate (IB) teaching method in the district. Ms. Ponns Cohen has been a vocal critic of Dr. Freund’s expansion plan and Mr. Sherr has raised questions about whether all the facts are known. Now they are being blamed by colleagues for supposedly forcing out Dr. Freund by making the board so dysfunctional he could no longer tolerate it.
The criticism reached a point on Tuesday where it seemed torch-wielding mobs were ready to spring forth. To put this on either Ms. Ponns Cohen or Mr. Sherr is unfair. As board members they are supposed to ask questions and have full public debate, especially on major initiatives like IB. We are not privy to internal board communications so we only know what we see publicly, and there was nothing outlandish about the public conduct of either board member.
It’s hard to believe they made the board too dysfunctional to move forward, when Dr. Freund has gotten everything he wants. His proposed budget sailed through as has the expansion of IB. He enjoys great public support and is earning a high salary from this town. Did the conduct of two board members make it so untenable that he gave all that up?
Dr. Freund could end this right now by speaking out publicly about why he’s leaving. People don’t want him to go. The Post wishes he would stay. We think Dr. Freund has done a great job. He was recently honored as Superintendent of the Year and it was well deserved. But his silence now is not productive.
If there is a personal reason why he is leaving then it is absolutely his right to keep that personal, but to let public speculation place the blame entirely on Ms. Ponns Cohen and Mr. Sherr is unfair.
Dr. Freund should absolve them of blame if they weren’t the contributing factor. And if they really were the reason and Dr. Freund gave it all up because he was annoyed at the board, then we really have to wonder if he ever was the right choice for Greenwich.
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