Mashpee Tribal Council Takes Stand Against Superintendent Candidate Hyde
By: Brian Kehrl
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council released a blistering, personal attack on Mashpee High School history teacher and superintendent candidate Brian A. Hyde in a letter sent to the Mashpee School Committee yesterday.
The tribal council, in a two-page letter sent to school committee Chairman Jose Franco, school committee members, and the Mashpee Board of Selectmen, presses the committee not to hire Mr. Hyde as superintendent, accusing him of disrespecting tribal youth and parents.
“Mr. Hyde is opposed to any future charter schools, and has made it clear he would fight the approval of our pending Wampanoag Language Immersion Charter School,” according to the letter. “Most importantly he is opposed to Mashpee Wampanoag Indian students. According to numerous reports from parents, and leaders in our Wampanoag community he is a name dropper, constantly citing various tribal leaders and members, as if there is some formidable relationship with our tribe, when clearly there is not.”
Mr. Hyde, who is one of four finalists scheduled to be interviewed by the committee in public meetings next week, said in a telephone interview this morning that the letter came as a total surprise.
He said he has had positive relationships with hundreds of Mashpee Wampanoag whom he has had as students over the past two-plus decades, ticking off several by name with whom he has had particuarly strong ties.
A full copy of the letter is available here.
He noted his involvement in Mashpee and Wampanoag history, both by organizing a lecture series at the high school that included several Wampanoag speakers and his involvement on the board of directors for the Mashpee One-Room SchoolhousePreservation Council. The opening ceremony for the renovated schoolhouse included a variety of Wampanoags.
“I unequivocally disagree with the letter. I support the tribe. I always have. I just don’t know where this is coming from,” he said.
Mr. Hyde said he has not taken a public stance on charter schools. But in the preliminary interviews for the superintendent position, he said he explained his position that charter schools have a role in urban areas but are not beneficial in areas like Cape Cod where the public school districts already serve students well.
However, he said he would support a tribal language charter school in Mashpee, if that is the direction the tribe decides to go.
Further, he said he suggested bringing the Wampanoag language into the high school as a course option for tribal students, though he said he has not fully sorted out the logistics of the idea.
“I am supportive of the tribe and tribal education. I always have been,” he said. “I do not believe this letter is the feeling of the general population of the tribe.”
The letter criticizes Mr. Hyde’s relative lack of administrative experience compared to the other candidates. Mr. Hyde served as interim assistant principal at Mashpee High School for one year, and otherwise has been a history teacher highly regarded by many in the community. A separate message sent to tribe members mistakenly refers to Mr. Hyde as the current assistant principal.
Many community members rallied to Mr. Hyde's support he was not hired for the permanent assistant principal position.
The letter to the school committee is signed by tribal council Chairman Cedric Cromwell, but according to the separate message sent out by the tribe yesterday evening via social media, it was approved by the full tribal council.
The letter further calls for “tribal consultation” in the committee’s decision making, citing the tribe’s “government to government” relationship with federal agencies as a model it would like to see emulated with the school committee and all of town government.
“The need to engage in meaningful discussion around School Committee decisions that affect our youth is imperative, and the Mashpee Wampanoag will not sit by idle letting such critical choices go without tribal leadership input,” the letter states.
A representative of the tribal council was included on the search committee that selected the four finalists.
The council has called on tribe members to attend the public meetings next week in another effort to make their voices heard in the process.
Following the interviews next week, the full school committee is scheduled to vote on its choice for the next superintendent later this month.
See next week’s edition of The Mashpee Enterprise for coverage of the interviews and more on the tribal council’s position against Mr. Hyde.
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