SALEM — A day after students and parents demanded better communication in an emotional meeting at Salem High School, administrators have responded.
Superintendent Margarita Ruiz and new Salem High Principal Vittoria Pacifico announced Friday that Pacifico will hold a series of monthly forums for parents and community members starting April 4.
In a letter posted on the school's website, administrators also announced that the current schedule at the high school will remain in place for the 2019-20 school year, putting off potential changes that had drawn sharp criticism from some parents and students.
The letter also said an effort will be made to establish directed study periods for all students and to address the use of long-term substitute teachers, two other issues that were raised at the public meeting.
"We hope this communication provides needed clarification and demonstrates our commitment to move forward in partnership with students, staff and families," said the letter, signed by Ruiz and Pacifico.
The letter came at the end of a week of turmoil at Salem High School. Ruiz announced on Wednesday that Principal Jennifer DeStefano had resigned for "personal reasons" effective immediately, and that Ruiz had hired Pacifico the same day.
Ruiz called a meeting for Thursday night for the public to ask questions, and parents and students responded by lashing out at Ruiz for what they called a lack of trust in the administration and a failure to communicate.
Parents and students were particularly upset about a potential change in the high school schedule that would have reduced the number of credits students can take at one time. Ruiz said the change would free up time for students to go out on internships. But several parents and students said it could make it difficult for students to fulfill graduation requirements or choose certain courses.
Friday's letter said the schedule review process will continue, but the current schedule will remain in 2019-20.
The letter also said that concerns about the removal of AP Enhancement, a directed study period for Advanced Placement students, "have been heard." The letter said a recommendation will be made to the School Committee on March 25 to "establish greater access to directed study periods for all students."
Ruiz said on Thursday that the high school's course offerings, or program of study, must be approved by the School Committee.
The letter also said that families of students in courses with long-term substitute teachers will receive a "communication" no later than March 22.
The letter also announced a community forum at Salem High School on April 23 to discuss strategies for "redesigning the high school experience."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.