New Bedford Public Schools Launches Family and Community Engagement Survey

New Bedford Public Schools is asking all staff, parents and community members to participate in a Family and Community Engagement Survey active from May 5 to June 6. District leadership will use the survey to communicate successes and measure community perceptions about their ongoing efforts to improve student achievement.

Designed and administered by independent technology and communications firm K12 Insight, the survey asks participants to share their thoughts on key issues such as leadership and governance, core values and information sources, among others. This survey is part of the district’s long-term communication strategy, which is intended to mobilize the entire community around an agenda of continuous improvement and consistent progress.

“A culture of achievement is only sustainable through school, community and family partnerships,” said Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools Dr. Pia Durkin. “The feedback from this survey will facilitate school and community communication and foster a culture of accountability and success.”

The survey will be accessible to all staff, parents, students and community members via a public link on the district’s website, a public link shared with New Bedford community groups and a QR code located on posters displayed at district and community facilities.

As candor and widespread participation are essential to the district’s engagement efforts, results will not be tied to individual participants. In addition, the survey will be available in Portuguese and Spanish.

Once the survey has closed on June 6, district leadership will share results with the community, along with an explanation of how they will use the data to meet critical district goals.

“It’s essential that we unite around a common understanding of what is in the best interests of our students,” Durkin said. “Together, we’ll create an education environment that provides opportunities for every student to excel.”

New Bedford Public Schools wants to hear your voice!

Your voice plays a vital role in helping us mobilize the entire community around our shared goal of increasing student achievement. Please take a few minutes to complete our Family and Community Engagement Survey.


¡Las Escuelas Públicas de New Bedford desean escuchar su voz!

Su voz juega un papel vital en ayudarnos a movilizar a toda la comunidad en torno al objetivo que compartimos de incrementar el rendimiento de los estudiantes. Por favor, tómese unos minutos para completar nuestra Encuesta sobre la Participación de la Familia y la Comunidad.


New Bedford Public Schools quer ouvir sua voz!

Sua voz tem um papel importante para nos ajudar a mobilizar toda a comunidade no que diz respeito a nosso objetivo comum de aumentar o aproveitamento escolar dos alunos. Por favor, dedique alguns minutos para preencher nosso Questionário de Envolvimento Familiar e da Comunidade.


Black Bear Express Arrives Buttonwood Park Zoo

Mayor Jon Mitchell takes a ride on the Black Bear Express at the Buttonwood Park Zoo - photo by Josh St Germain.
Mayor Jon Mitchell takes a ride on the Black Bear Express at the Buttonwood Park Zoo – photo by Josh St Germain.

On Saturday, May 10th, the Black Bear Express was officially open for train rides at New Bedford’s Buttonwood Park Zoo. The new train also has a working smokestack that kids will love.

The train runs daily from 9:00am-5:00pm. Train rides are $2 per ride (1 ticket) and all proceeds from the Black Bear Express and Wildlife Carousel go to support educational programming and family events funded by the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society. Please call (508) 991-4556 x 14 for more information. All tickets are sold in the North Woods Gift Store. Please Note: all rides are weather permitting.

Photos by Josh St Germain.

HOV Lane Violator Cited For “Fake” Passenger While Driving to Boston

Source: Mass State Police Twitter page @MassStatePolice
Source: Mass State Police Twitter page @MassStatePolice

This morning, at approximately 6:35 a.m., Trooper John Carnell assigned to the Motorcycle Unit was working a paid detail in Quincy when he observed a vehicle enter the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane with what appeared to be a counterfeit passenger. Trooper Carnell stopped the vehicle on Route 93 northbound.

After further investigation, Trooper Carnell discovered the operator had propped up a work jacket with a mannequin head affixed to the top of the jacket in an attempt to create the illusion of a true passenger. The operator of the vehicle was issued a citation for operating on an excluded way.

In order to utilize the HOV lane, a driver must be operating a vehicle that is occupied by at least two persons. The purpose of the HOV lane is to alleviate the number of cars on the roadway during the morning and evening commute times. This is accomplished by encouraging carpooling.

This is not the first time that Trooper Carnell has stopped an operator for exhibiting a false passenger. In April of 2013, Trooper Carnell stopped a vehicle and discovered that a woman had placed a full size doll in a car seat in an attempt to pass the doll off as a legitimate passenger. That operator was also cited.

New Bedford Educators Vote “No Confidence ” in Superintendent Durkin

Lou St. John, president of the New Bedford Educators Association

Members of the New Bedford Educators Association have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a motion expressing “no confidence” in the leadership of School Superintendent Pia Durkin. Durkin’s tenure as superintendent since last July has been marred by controversy, most recently when she sought to discipline teacher Joanne Maura after a video of a student throwing a chair at Maura went viral.

“New Bedford educators believe that Dr. Durkin has created a climate of fear and a lack of trust that aren’t good for teachers or students,” said Lou St. John, president of the New Bedford Educators Association. “We are urging her to resign so that a new superintendent can be appointed who is willing and able to work collaboratively with staff and members of the community to make our schools great places to teach and learn.”

The no confidence vote was proposed by Maura at a general membership meeting held Friday afternoon, May 2, at the Keith Middle School. All but one of the members present voted in favor of the motion. Since many members were not able to make it to the meeting, a motion was adopted to extend the voting by secret ballot at the NBEA office through Wednesday afternoon.

St. John said that the extended voting mirrored the vote at the Friday meeting, with all but 5 of those casting ballots supporting the “no confidence” motion.

St. John had convened the general membership meeting to seek feedback from members about whether concerns they had raised in a District Climate Task Force had been addressed. At that point, Maura went to the microphone and said:

“I would like to make a motion that the membership take a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Durkin for the following reasons:

  • She has created a climate of fear within our schools.
  • Her polices, methods and tactics are harming our students.
  • Her policies created the conditions that have resulted in the increase of violence in our schools.
  • Her actions and inactions are harming the reputation of our schools and they are scaring parents and students away from our district.
  • Her actions do not support our educators and students.
  • She micromanages every aspect of our jobs.
  • She violates our contract and allows other administrators to do the same with impunity.
  • She has inserted herself into every level of the grievance process and denies our grievances.
  • She has fired, suspended and disciplined educators without just cause.
  • She has allowed the educator evaluation tool to be used as a weapon against our educators.
  • Her actions have created emotional distress among our members, which has resulted in many of our members seeking medical and psychological assistance.
  • Because of her actions, many of our members have resigned or retired or are in the process of doing so.”

The members present discussed the motion and described their own experiences.

St. John said that members are concerned about staff and student safety as a result of policies to reduce student suspensions without implementing supports for dealing with behavior issues. A prime example was that Durkin threatened Maura with disciplinary action after the video showing a student throwing a chair at her went public.

“Most of our students are wonderful,” St. John said. “But we do have some who act out and can pose a danger to both teachers and other students. We do not feel that the administration has taken this concern seriously and guaranteed us all a safe, supportive and productive work environment.”

St. John said many educators believe that the evaluation system is being misused. He said he is hearing from more and more teachers who formerly had excellent evaluations but who are now receiving negative evaluations for no legitimate reason.

He added that Durkin’s student test-score goals are “laudable” but not achievable. He called the goals “a recipe for failure that does nothing to actually help students reach their potential in our schools.

“Teachers in New Bedford do not feel supported by the superintendent,” St. John concluded. “She has created a climate of fear that is not healthy for staff. And if it’s not good for staff, it’s not good for the students.”

New Bedford Public Schools Celebrate Walk & Bike to School Day

Ashley School Students on Walk & Bike to School Day

Today, Wednesday, May 7, 2014, students at elementary schools throughout New Bedford including the Charles Ashley, Ellen R. Hathaway, Carlos Pacheco, John Avery Parker, Betsy B. Winslow Elementary Schools and others, celebrated the annual “Massachusetts Walk/Bike to School Day.” The celebration is aimed at encouraging students across Massachusetts to walk or bike to school as well as to raise public awareness about the importance of safe roads and environments that allow students to travel to and from school safely.

Students at several New Bedford Elementary Schools walked and biked to school today along with parents, teachers and community leaders. The spotlight school for the 2014 Annual Walk/Bike to School was the Charles Ashley Elementary School, located on Ashley Boulevard in New Bedford’s north end, across from Brooklawn Park.

Mayor Mitchell and Ashley School  students exercise before the school day begins.
Mayor Mitchell and Ashley School students exercise before the school day begins.

Beginning at 7:30 A.M. with kids, parents and community leaders including Mayor Jon Mitchell, Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin, Principal Karen Meyer, Safe Routes to School State-wide Coordinator, Erin Reed and the Mass in Motion New Bedford Team gathered at the intersection of Brooklawn and Sowle Street near the softball fields.  They walked and biked together to the Ashley School at approximately 7:45 A.M. 

Today was the kick-off for Ashley’s “walking school” which included over 30 children and a handful of parents walking to school. A walking school bus is simply a group of children walking to school with one or more adults.  The goal is to increase the number of kids walking to school by providing a safe and supervised manner. Ashley School plans to convene their walking school bus daily until the end of the school so any interested child is encouraged to join the group and walk!

In addition to the walking school bus, Ashley students have opportunities for physical activity each morning before school, including walking and dancing.  Also, every Wednesday all students participate in 10 minutes of guided exercises like jumping jacks and stretches.  Today, Mayor Mitchell enthusiastically joined in as the entire school participated in this activity outside by the playground.

“Walk and Bike to School Day events like the one held today raise awareness of the need to support safer routes for walking and bicycling in our community,” said Mayor Mitchell.  “Walk and Bike to School Day also emphasizes the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concern for the environment. These events help build connections between families, schools and the broader community,” he continued.

Walk and Bike to School Day is a collaboration of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion Program and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program, which is federally funded by the Federal Highway Division. The program is designed to create safer streets, promote physical activity, and build sustainable environments in over 170 communities throughout Massachusetts. Mass in Motion works with communities across the Commonwealth to promote healthy eating and active living for youth and adults.

“When children walk or bike to school they get a great form of exercise first thing in the morning, so they arrive energetic and ready to learn,” says Mass in Motion New Bedford’s Coordinator, Kim Ferreira. “It’s best if kids can get at least an hour of physical activity a day, so walking to school starts them out on the right foot .”

“Even if you’re not participating in the event today, if you drive by any school on your way to work in the morning, it’s important to remember to slow down and be vigilant. The other half of the equation is promoting safe driving, as well,” says Ferreira.

The Safe Routes to School campaign works with cities and other organizations to build infrastructure such as bike paths and sidewalks, and to deliver education and awareness to drivers about driving without distractions, slowing down, and respecting pedestrians and cyclists.

For additional local information, please contact Kim Ferreira at (508) 789-4969. 

For additional information, please visit these websites:

New Bedford Airport Playground Dedication in Memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Rodriguez

image001The Atlantic Aviators Association, Mayor Jon Mitchell, and family, friends and colleagues of United States Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Rodriguez, of Fairhaven, Massachusetts will gather at the New Bedford Regional Airport on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 2:00 P.M. to dedicate an aviation themed playground at the airport in memory of the fallen marine.

Rodriguez was 19 years old when he died on December 11, 2013 while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Rodriguez has been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the NATO Medal-International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Rodriguez Returns Home

School Department Statement on Incident at New Bedford High School

Official statement from city officials.

On Friday, May 2, 2014, two female students at New Bedford High School were engaged in an altercation. A teacher who intervened fell to the ground while attempting to restrain the students. The teacher sustained no injuries, finished the school day on Friday, and was present yesterday. School Resource Officers and administrators also responded. Both students were dismissed and suspended.

New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin has continued to stress the importance of a cultivating positive learning environment where aggressive behavior is never acceptable under any circumstance. Last Wednesday, the Superintendent spoke directly to New Bedford High School students and staff at a series of three special assemblies for freshmen, sophomores, and junior/seniors. Dr. Durkin emphasized the obligations and responsibilities that students, teachers, and administrators have to one another. She praised the overwhelming majority of students who meet the high standards of personal conduct expected at New Bedford High School. And she praised the faculty and administrators who are working hard every day to foster a positive school culture.

Teacher Assaulted at New Bedford High School on May 2nd, 2014

This is the account of a person at New Bedford High School who witnessed a fight between two New Bedford High School students and saw a female teacher assaulted when she tried to break up the fight. The witness also alleges the School Resource Officer supervisor is covering up the incident. The fight occurred on Friday, May 2nd and has been confirmed by several reliable sources:

“On Friday, there was a fight between two female students in the hallway in Tan House on the third floor. Two female teachers were attempting to separate the girls and one of the teachers was dragged to the floor and then dragged at least a foot across the floor buy one of the students.

This fight happened in front of two special education students who were terrified. One of the teachers called for help FOUR TIMES and nobody came. The assistance of an administrator and School Resource Officers (SROs) were requested. The attendance person came upstairs at least 2 minutes later and by then the girls had successfully been separated by the teachers that were involved. By this time, at least five teachers were all over the third floor of the tan house were helping.

The attendance person took one of the girls away and was intercepted at least 200 feet away by the blue housemaster. She never came to check on the injured teacher. A few minutes later, the gold housemaster showed up and checked on the injured teacher. The SROs stood 100 feet away and never came up to the scene. Also, nobody bothered to check on the special education students who were in tears and scared. Statements have been submitted and now the SRO supervisor is telling people that the teacher that was hurt tripping and was never involved in a fight. In fact, there was no fight.”

Majority of NBEA teachers vote “no confidence” for Superintendent Durkin

On Friday, May 2nd, 2014, hundreds of New Bedford Educators Association (NBEA) members attended a general meeting to voice their concerns over what they perceive as an unhealthy climate that now exists within the New Bedford schools.

Earlier in the week Joanne Maura, the teacher and victim of the chair throwing incident at New Bedford High School, led the charge for a no confidence vote for Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools Dr. Pia Durkin. At the NBEA meeting on Friday, members called for a vote to determine whether or not the body had confidence in Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin. The vast majority of the members present voted that they did not. One member abstained from voting and no members voted having confidence in the superintendent.

Members that did not attend the meeting sill have the option to cast their votes until Wednesday, May 7th. NBEA President St. John will issue a press release on Thursday, May 8th.

The New Bedford Educators Association represents the New Bedford public school teachers and has approximately 1,000 members.


Woman victim of money order fraud in New Bedford

According to the New Bedford Police, a woman reported being scammed at local bank. She explained that she was approached by another female who told her she had a money order for $511 and couldn’t cash it because she’d left her bank card at home. Victim agreed to give her $286 for money order, only to learn later it was fraudulent. Police have suspect and are investigating.

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