Editor’s note: This letter is in response to the allegations that are detailed in a story on the front page of this week’s Journal.
Dear Long Trail School Family,
We understand that an unsigned letter recently raised questions around the direction of Long Trail School (LTS). We want to address these questions openly and transparently and assure everyone in the LTS community that the school is thriving under Seth Linfield’s strong leadership.
We want to be exceedingly clear that we are proud and pleased with the record of our school under our Head of School Seth Linfield’s leadership, including:
A solid track record of sending students to colleges that match and fit. Indeed, last year, 100% of IB candidates attained their Diploma and 90% of Seniors were admitted to their first or second choice colleges and universities.
The completion of a strategic plan that included: teachers, students, parents, board members, administrators, and community members.
A steady climb of enrollment even before the Covid-19 influx.
A beautiful fieldhouse that was completed under budget and on time.
A financial turnaround from a large deficit four years ago to a sound and stable financial school that is in the black. Our monthly financial operations and statements are reviewed and prepared by outside accountants and the annual results are audited.
One of the few schools in Vermont that stayed open five days a week all year during COVID.
Last spring, as part of our strategic plan, the board hired an outside consultant with over 25 years of independent school leadership to assess our school’s performance and our Head of School. Evaluating the Head of School is a normal course of board business and is done for the benefit of the Head and the school. All discussions pertaining to the evaluation remain confidential; however, our board has been open about the process. The assessment was comprehensive and independent and the review included:
Interviews with over 20 teachers and administrators
A net promoter survey of parents, teachers, and students at the end of the 20/21 school year
Over 50 hours of discussions with the Head of School and the Board
Suggestions for the Head of School in areas that needed improvement
We are confident we have the right Head of School to lead LTS today and into the future.
The spokesperson of the small group that has raised concerns has made it clear in their voluminous notes and emails to the school and our teachers that they do not share many of our Core Values and reject several of our school’s operating principles. They reject recommended medical best practices to prevent COVID, actions which clearly helped us remain open all of last year. They demand that we stop teaching about race and racism and allege that we are “indoctrinating” our students about race. We are committed to social justice inside and outside our classrooms. They assail our evidence-based sexual health education. This curriculum helps our students develop healthier relationships, prevents dating violence, delays sexual initiation, and reduces unplanned pregnancy, HIV, and other STIs.
Their letter implies that our Board Chair and Head of School refused to meet about issues. This is false.
In fact, over the summer, there were three separate meetings with the spokesperson.
LTS thrives as a community because of our social commitments to one another grounded in our Core Values such as Kindness of Spirit and our Honor Code. We cherish free and open expression within our community. We develop the voice and agency of our students and readily encourage feedback from our constituents. That is how we improve. Equally important to free and open expression is civility, courtesy and respect. We teach and model civility, courtesy and respect to our students and would hope to see the same from all members of our community.