The saga over the mismanagement by the Boston Archdiocese of the closing of St. Paul school in Wellesley continues. Here is an article in The Swellesley Report, “With faith shaken, St. Paul School parents try to set record straight on closing.” Below you’ll see the letter that parents sent to all St. Paul parishioners:
Dear Parishioners of St. Paul Parish,
On Sunday, July 26, a letter from Fr. Sepe appeared in the St. Paul Parish bulletin announcing the closing of St. Paul School. This letter implied that a lack of commitment on the part of school families was the cause of the school’s failure. This implication could not be further from the truth, and the parents of St. Paul School once again find themselves deeply disturbed by decisions and communications with regard to our school. We write to you now to set the record straight and make you aware of the following:
- The school did not close due to a lack of commitment on the part of the parents, or because demand for the school did not exist. It was certainly not “clinging to only 32 students,” as you are being led to
- The closing of Paul School was completely preventable. In fact, great strides had been made over the course of the year to turn it around and set it up for a bright future.
It is true that over the past several years the school has experienced a decline in enrollment. The cause of this decline is welldocumented as due to the actions as well as inaction of our pastors under the advisement of the Boston Catholic Schools Office. However, the actions of the parents, under the leadership of their principal and the guidance of an independent consultant, were to engage in a series of initiatives to breathe new life into the school. To alleviate financial pressure on the parish, we undertook an ambitious Annual Fund campaign. The end result is the largest Annual Fund balance known to St. Paul School. Sixty thousand dollars of the reported $85,000 balance was raised only among the parents and teachers of St. Paul School. It is very likely that this fund would have exceeded $100,000 if the requests to speak at Masses were granted.
On two occasions in March from Fr. Rafferty and in June from Fr. Sepe parents received written commitments that the school would be open for the 20152016 year. These commitments had no other stipulations. The expectations were that our pastors’ written words would be their bond.
In the last week of April, school parents who had already submitted reenrollment deposits in March received a letter from the Parish office raising the initial $200 nonrefundable deposit to an unprecedented $1,500 due July 15th. This policy was described as coming directly from the Boston Catholic Schools Office. It was flawed, illconceived and poorly communicated, causing uncertainty relative to the commitment to St. Paul School’s continued mission. Countless requests to reconsider the deposit increase were ignored.
Adding to the fears and uncertainty of parents, on April 23rd our principal was terminated effective immediately, despite a clear upward trajectory and measurable achievements in fundraising and admissions. On the Thursday of Spring vacation, she was told to clean out her office by Saturday, and an interim principal was in her place the returning Monday with no explanation. The timing and manner of our principal’s forced exit demoralized our community, and in this mailing we share with you our collective communication responding to the event.
Following the termination of the principal, school parents pleaded with Fr. Sepe to reach out and engage the school community to assuage their fears and concerns. By ignoring these pleas, he cast further doubt about the longterm plan for St. Paul School, and previouslycommitted families started to pull their enrollment.
It wasn’t until the evening of the day he announced the school closing that Fr. Sepe finally afforded parents the opportunity to meet with him. It became clear at this meeting that more than 32 deposit increases had been paid; in fact, our polling after the meeting has shown that close to 50 deposit increases were paid. Additionally, there were a number of parents who did not pay for financial reasons or out of principle, but who indicated to the Parish office that their children would attend St. Paul School in the fall. At no point were parents notified that if they didn’t turn in this deposit increase, the school would close. The rushed nature of the closing and obvious disregard for due diligence regarding a decision with such resounding ramifications leaves us in utter disbelief.
Parishioners should be concerned about the closing of St. Paul School for many reasons. First and foremost, the manner and timing of the school’s closing has caused great distress and grief among children, families and dedicated teachers. Parents and teachers were told numerous times that the school would be available, and are now scrambling to find alternatives. For many, their faith is shaken. We believe that our parishioners and alumni would have risen to the occasion to prevent such a devastating event if they had only been given the opportunity to decide whether to come to the school’s aid.
Our children are the future of the Church and Catholic schools are the cornerstone of the church’s mission of evangelization. The children of St. Paul School have been the lifeblood of the parish for over 60 years. We ask you now to stand by St. Paul School by contacting the office of Cardinal Archbishop Sean O’Malley and voicing the following:
- Your objections that the school was closed a consequential and far-reaching decision for the parish with no consultation or outreach to you, and for the manner in which this closing was carried
- Your support in the return of all Paul School Annual Fund monies raised under the “Believe in Our Future: 60th Anniversary Fund” campaign.
- Your request for intercession on behalf of our principal, who was inexplicably terminated under conditions that leave us concerned for her
- Your insistence that a thorough investigation into the role of the Boston Catholic Schools Office be undertaken, and that individuals are held responsible for failing to carry out the mission of strengthening Catholic
Please help us shine the light on St. Paul School so that what happened here will not happen to another Catholic school in this Archdiocese.
# Parents of St. Paul School in Support of this Letter
To engage with the Parents of St Paul group on Facebook, click here.