NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Many New Fairfield residents have been engaged in a long battle to remove Alicia Roy from her position as New Fairfield's superintendent of schools, including launching a petition in March to act as a collective Vote of No Confidence.
As the school year begins Aug. 31, some of these individuals say they are frustrated by the situation, which has not changed.
One of these parents is New Fairfield mother of four Patricia Gasparino, who said there has been a year-and-a-half of upheaval in the district. Six months have passed since the Vote of No Confidence petition from parents -- and a second from teachers -- in regard to Roy, she said.
"The embattled district has lost staff -- some through attrition, but mostly due to upheavals caused during Roy's tenure: Four para-professionals, 24 teachers, two social workers, three administrators and one school psychologist," Gasparino said.
The petition , presented by parents in March, has 536 supporters and cites poor performance, disintegration of teacher morale, school-related lawsuits and poor judgment as the thrust of parental complaints, according to Gasparino.
"Teachers voiced concerns in their own petition in April, including low morale, the lack of teacher input, poor implementation of programs, poor curriculum choices and a severe lack of professional development. Seventy percent of teachers who voted, voted in favor of No Confidence in Dr. Roy," she said.
When contacted by the Daily Voice, Roy chose not to comment.
According to Gasparino, New Fairfield will see large changes this school year. "The district has hired a new high school principal, Dr. Richard Sanzo; a new pupil personnel services director, Andrea Einhorn; and a PPS supervisor, Dean Catalano."
But the district still needs to hire two behavioral specialists, she said. And a new math curriculum will roll out.
New Fairfield parent Patrick Bower agreed with Gasparino and said teachers, parents and taxpayers are adamant that Roy must go.
"Unfortunately, it seems like we are stuck with her because there is not enough political courage in town to ask the taxpayers to buy her out. This is despite ample reserves and a surplus," he said.
Bower said the students will suffer due to Roy's lack of leadership and communication skills.
"If there was a chance to reclaim her status – Dr. Roy destroyed that when she retaliated against a teacher who called her out as a bully at a public meeting. Not more than a week after waving her juvenile magic stick, she bullied Mrs. Dawson, taking away her AP classes.
"In doing so, she lived up, or down as it were, to her mean-spirited reputation. This was after forcing a young teen girl to be re-victimized by attorneys during a deposition. Her heart is smaller than the Grinch’s," he said.
Bower said New Fairfield residents are left with no choice but to continue fighting.
"It makes no sense for her to stay," Bower said. "She does not have the trust of the teaching or parent community, and with another two years of negative press, protests and additional votes of no confidence, she will have achieved only one thing -- she will have permanently destroyed her career."
A college student created a documentary on the situation in New Fairfield. It garnered over 1,500 views in its first five days of release, Gasparino said.
In the video, parents, students and New Fairfield Teachers Association President Keith Conway discuss some of the issues in the town.
"New Fairfield residents want to start school with their feet on the ground and change in the air," Gasparino said.