Students support Dartmouth High teacher at School Committee meeting
Dartmouth’s most contentious School Committee meeting topic stemmed from an issue not even on the evening’s agenda.
On Monday, June 6, over 100 students, parents, and faculty members packed in to show their support for Dartmouth High School’s Media Club and video teacher Joshua Moulding.
Moulding has been a teacher at Dartmouth High for three years. His contract was not renewed for the coming school year, though neither the class nor the position are being cut, according to Superintendent Bonny Gifford. Student representative Stacie Hartman described Moulding as an “integral” part of Dartmouth High School who “fostered a lot of passion in students.”
Attendees began chiming in to speak during the meeting and after several disruptions, Chairman Chris Oliver agreed to allot attendees some time to air their grievances. However, the School Committee could not weigh in as its jurisdiction is only with “business and budget,” Oliver said.
Several students stood up to share how Moulding had impacted their lives.
Victoria Cornell was a student at Dartmouth High who switched to home schooling due to personal reasons. Unable to walk at graduation on June 5, she instead attended the ceremony to support her friends, said Cornell.
“Mr. Moulding is the kind of guy that puts others first, and on Sunday he did no different,” Cornell said. “He wondered around a hot, sweaty gym in one of the gowns that teachers have to wear for about half an hour before he found me after the ceremony. He did that so that I could wear his gown with the graduation cap I had in my online school’s colors.”
Austin Vincent, a graduate of the class of 2016, said, “Dartmouth High School will be at a loss if this continues through.”
He presented the committee with a petition signed by 400 students across all four grades.
“We all feel the same way about this decision,” Vincent said. “Please listen to us.”
“Not a single teacher has made me feel as welcomed as Mr. Moulding,” said Benjamin Ventura, a student who transferred in after moving from New Bedford.
A frustrated parent was barred from speaking in the interest of having time and addressing other issues. She said that the School Committee’s agenda system was ”not very democratic.”
“This isn’t about democracy right now,” Oliver said.
Moulding, who works with the Media Club and DCTV to televise the School Committee meetings, was present for the meeting. He had heard rumors that students would petition to have him stay at Dartmouth High, but had no idea that they would go to such great lengths for him, he said.
“It feels extremely gratifying,” Moulding said of the huge number of students who came out to support him. “I feel like even knowing I’ve affected this many students, that I’ve done something good in my life.”
Dartmouth High Principal John Gould was in attendance regarding a different agenda item. “[Students] have the right to attend forums and I respect that,” he said when asked about the students’ passion.
Despite the rest of the meeting proceeding in an organized manner, students were still concerned that their grievances were being tamped down.
“They always say they’re for the students, but we stand up to speak, they shut us down,” Vincent said. He added that after speaking with Gifford to ascertain what the “right” time and place to bring up this issue is, she allegedly said “There is no right time.”
This mirrors an incident earlier this year where students felt that there wasn’t an appropriate or accessible venue for them to discuss issues.
Even after the meeting adjourned, students hung around to lend their support to Moulding.