Group of Stamford administrators sign letter in support of Schools Superintendent Tamu Lucero

Photo of Ignacio Laguarda
Students enter school at Westover Elementary School in Stamford, Conn. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.

Students enter school at Westover Elementary School in Stamford, Conn. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

STAMFORD — A group of 27 Stamford school administrators, including nine principals and nine assistant principals, signed a letter in support of Superintendent Tamu Lucero in response to a rash of schools issuing votes of no confidence in her.

The statement was led by Lisa Saba-Price, the principal at Westover Magnet Elementary School.

“I felt that only one side of this issue was being portrayed for the public,” wrote Saba-Price in an emailed message. “I have worked for (five) superintendents as an administrator and never has one been more collaborative or supportive than Tamu.”

Saba-Price said Lucero has embedded herself in the Stamford community.

“She has made lasting connections with the community and when she walks into buildings, she knows the staff, the students and their families,” she wrote.

About 75 people are part of the Stamford Administrative Unit union.

The signed letter ends with the sentence, “While this is by no means a comprehensive list of the administrators who support our leadership, the undersigned wanted to publicly state that we could not have been successful without the leadership of Dr. Lucero and the associate superintendents.”

Absent from the list of supporters are the names of the principals and assistant principals at all three high schools. Among school principals in the district, 11 did not sign. More than 20 assistant principals also did not add their names to the statement.

Diane Phanos, president of the Stamford Education Association teachers union, noted that many of the signees were appointed to their current positions by Lucero.

The statement from administrators comes after the majority of tenured staff at five of the district’s 21 schools issued votes of no confidence in Lucero. Staff at two high schools — Westhill and the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering — also included Associate Superintendent Amy Beldotti in their vote of no confidence, which was mostly pegged to the ongoing block schedule debate.

While the five votes of no confidence were organized by staff in each of those schools, and were not organized by the SEA, Phanos has supported teachers who have participated in the votes.

The letter backed by 27 administrators, which was sent to the Stamford Board of Education, recognized the hardships of the past two years.

“While we can understand the frustrations of being an educator in 2022, we cannot support the notion of a vote of no confidence in Dr. Lucero and Mrs. Beldotti,” it reads. “On the contrary, we would like to express our support in the work and dedication of the superintendent and her leadership team in guiding the Stamford Public Schools these past few years.”

The letter states that Lucero and her team “put students first” and “listen to constituents.”

In the statement, administrators commended Lucero for her work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were no directions for how to respond during a pandemic,” the letter reads. “However, Dr. Lucero and the leadership team were methodical and never met a problem that they weren’t willing to tackle. Their willingness to include multiple viewpoints from building and central office administrators, teachers, staff, families and community partners has been a strength that we admire, respect and appreciate.”

Toward the end, the letter addresses a common complaint from teachers that their opinions are not being taken into consideration when important decisions are made.

“Our district leadership has established processes and multiple opportunities for stakeholder feedback across a range of issues, but just because a decision is not popular with all groups, doesn’t mean all stakeholder voices were not considered,” it reads. “There is a difference between listening and agreeing.”