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School Committee 'Lost Confidence in Dr. Buchanan’s Ability to Lead'

The performance evaluations of former School Superintendent Dr. Raleigh Buchanan shed light of the School Committee's concerns about Buchanan, who started on the job last July.

A majority of the School Committee expressed serious concerns about Dr. Raleigh Buchan’s job performance – ranging from his ability to meet deadlines to his communication with the Committee - in evaluations completed last month.

In more than 80 pages worth of evaluations paperwork released on Friday after a request from Hamilton-Wenham Patch – superintendent evaluations are a public document – Committee members used number rating from 1-4 and written comments to nearly uniformly express their dissatisfaction with the work he was doing.

The individual evaluations of all nine School Committee members are attached to this story as PDF files. (If you are having trouble reading the documents, there is a "fullscreen" mode and also a "+" magnifying glass button.)

The School Committee and Buchanan night after a nearly two hour long closed door executive session that ended Buchanan's tenure as superintendent after less than a year. He started on the job last July.

The School Committee released very few details about what led to the agreement and did not release any details about what is in the agreement. More details are expected to be released within 14 days.

But the evaluations, , shed light on some of the concerns School Committee members had, ranging from his public speaking skills to the lack of his involvement in the development in the 2012 school budget.

According to one evaluation, the committee had met with him as early as January “to address the flawed working relationship that Dr. Buchanan has with the School Committee.”

That comment came from the evaluation of School Committee member Dacia Rubel, who was the committee member most critical of Buchanan’s performance. She gave Buchanan 1s with a few 2s and two 3s. One is the lowest score – unsatisfactory – and 4 is the highest – consistently exceeds requirements.

“While Dr. Buchanan is clearly a caring and thoughtful man, I can honestly say that I have lost all confidence in his ability to perform the essential functions of his job,” Rubel wrote in summary. “I am deeply concerned about the district’s future.”

Buchanan was not in his office at the schools central office next to Buker Elementary School in Wenham on Friday and the door to his office was closed. He could not be reached for comment at his Haverhill home on Friday.

In an interview before Thursday's meeting - before his evalauation was publicly released - Buchanan said he received the composite review, as well as the individual reviews of all nine School Committee members, and characterized the composite review as “average.”

Initially, Buchanan’s review was scheduled to be read and discussed at the School Committee meeting on May 5. But at that meeting, Chairman Alexa McCloughan said she was bitten by a dog the week before and it meant that Buchanan didn’t get his composite review (a compilation of all nine School Committee members reviews) until 36 hours before the meeting.

“I am seeing a lot of surprised faces,” she said, later adding the process would be conducted on May 19, which lead to Thursday's developments.

The highest numbers on any of Buchanan's evaluations came from School Committee member Richard Boroff and, even with one page of his evaluation that appeared to be inadvertently missing when it was released, gave Buchanan the highest ratings.

Boroff gave Buchanan all 3s and 4s.

“As long as he is not micromanaged, he will function very well in this district,” Boroff said in summary.

McCloughan’s evaluation fell largely in the middle, with her top concerns being Buchanan’s financial management while saying she was satisfied with his community relations.

McCloughan said she felt Buchanan became too reliant on Assistant Superintendent Peter Gray for jobs that were not Gray’s responsibility.

“I have lost confidence in Dr. Buchanan’s ability to lead the (Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District),” McCloughan wrote.

Nancy P May 22, 2011 at 10:20 PM
We don't really know what happened with "the process" yet. The School committee was planning to review his performance at the meeting but then had to make a hasty change because of a phone call received. Perhaps it was not their choice to handle this as they did, but a legal requirement that resulted from whatever happened in that phone call. I think the community is rushing to judgment WAY too fast on this matter. And personally I was very disappointed with Dr Buchanan's performance this year. While he did a great job reaching out to the community, he clearly failed at leveraging this to get support for his budget. I wondered all year why Peter Gray became the voice of the schools and not Dr. Buchanan.
Concerned school employee May 23, 2011 at 05:11 PM
The next person to be let go should be the curriculum director. She was hired by Buchanan and has proven to not only to have questionable competence, but has been allowed to actually work from home (Providence, RI area) instead of coming to work each day!
KlassySalem May 23, 2011 at 07:02 PM
I'd be careful before taking the words written by a connected group of people in these reviews as gospel. Just because they wrote something doesn't necessarily mean it is true.
Robert Gates May 24, 2011 at 02:48 AM
If you look to the right of the story, under the photo of Dr. Buchanan, you will see all nine reviews, each posted as a separate PDF.
Robert Gates May 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Commenters: Please remember our Terms of Use, which under the Registration section says, among other things, "Patch believes in transparency, and we ask that all your registration information be truthful. You may not use any aliases or other means to mask your true identity."

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