Middle School Video: Statements from Teacher, School Officials & Police Union

Watertown Middle School

The showing of a video to a group of Watertown Middle School students caused an uproar in Town. The video is being called anti-police and misleading, with some calling for the teacher who showed it to be disciplined or fired. The video, which was created by MTV, was not sanctioned by Watertown School officials before it was shown during Community Meeting at WMS in February. Superintendent Dede Galdston said that she cannot share details of a personnel matter, that the Watertown Public School officials are looking into the incident. “While personnel matters cannot be shared publicly, please know that District leadership will address this incident directly in a way that is consistent with School Committee policies and procedures,” Galdston wrote in a statement released Saturday.

LETTER: Resident Calls for Stronger Response to Showing of Anti-Police Video at Middle School

Dear Dr. Galdston,

Let me preface my comments by expressing my admiration for the vast majority of wonderful teachers that have answered a “calling” to educate children, especially those in the Watertown Public Schools. As I noted, being a teacher is far more than a job, it’s a vocation and calling. My older sister was foreign language teacher and reading specialist, before she retired. I personally saw all the hours she put into the lesson planning and correcting papers. People don’t see all the work teachers do. Nor do they see that they often buy supplies with their own money. But the most important thing many folks don’t see or understand is the emotional commitment teachers make to their students. Having said that; I must express my dismay at your weak response to the situation at the Middle School. In your statement you rightly noted that the video shown to the students was Anti-Law Enforcement.

Superintendent Responds to Anti-Police Video Shown at Middle School

Watertown Middle School

Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston sent a letter on Saturday about the showing of a video with an anti-police bias to a class at Watertown Middle School in February. The video came to light last week on the Turtle Boy website. Follow Watertown News this week for more coverage. The following is the text of Galdston’s letter:

Good evening, WPS Parents, Guardians, Faculty, and Staff:

I recently became aware of an incident that occurred in a Watertown Middle School Community Meeting in which students were shown a video with a strong anti-police sentiment. The video, along with the follow-up discussion, did damage to our school and community, was hurtful to students and families; for that, we are deeply sorry.

Schools Rolling Out Student COVID-19 Testing Week After Thanksgiving

Watertown students will be able to be tested for COVID-19 for free starting the week after Thanksgiving, in an effort to keep schools open for in-person learning and to stop the spread of the virus in the school and broader community. Galdston told the School Committee about the district’s testing program on Monday, the same night that a piece on the Watertown Public Schools’ COVID-19 testing program (for which she was interviewed) aired on the NBC Nightly News. “In the 45 minute interview, that was cut to 30 seconds, we spent a lot of time talking about how Watertown has really gone above and beyond to keep our students and our staff safe,” Galdston said. “Here is just another safety net we have for all of our people within our community.” School Committee member Lily Rayman-Read, who teaches in the Cambridge Public Schools, said the NBC story caught the interest of educators in other communities.

Forum Planned After Racist Incidents Reported by Watertown Middle School Student

A Watertown Middle School student reported being harassed online and by phone after putting up posts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The incidents were reported by a Boston news station, and the Watertown Public Schools response includes a virtual public forum to address the issue. A 13-year-old African-American girl told her experiences to Boston Fox 25 last week, including being harassed online and receiving threatening phone calls after she put up some BLM messages on her social media accounts. She also reported being called the “N-word” by another student at school after giving a speech about racism in February. The student reported the incidents to Watertown Middle School officials, but said that she is not aware of anything being done about it.

Watertown Students Can Get COVID-19 Tests as Schools Move into Hybrid

Watertown Middle School

With Watertown elementary school students already attending hybrid, and the middle school starting some in person learning this week, the Watertown Public Schools are offering COVID-19 testing for students. Watertown School staff have already had access to the testing, but Superintendent Dede Galdston told the School Committee that she just recently learned the student testing could begin. “It is a very late thing. … Last week didn’t know we would be able to start student testing,” Galston said.

LETTER: Watertown Schools Have Asbestos, Air Flow Problems

Letter to Editor,

This past week, the Massachusetts Department of Education & Secondary Education (DESE) conducted an audit on the Watertown Public Schools and the District’s decision to delay opening the buildings for in-school/hybrid learning. At this moment, no details have been provided to Town residents as to what the audit yielded. Information requests to the DESE have been unanswered. All the details residents know (via a ZOOM call), is that Superintendent Galdston spoke to DESE Commissioner Riley (or an associate) and that the conversation was short with few questions (according to Galdston). So what were the DESE findings and why haven’t the Middle School and High School opened yet?