Whether deliberate or not, Mayor Jon Mitchell's recent State Of The City Address clearly disrespected Superintendent of Schools Dr. Pia Durkin.

New Bedford's public school system has certainly experienced dramatic improvement on Mitchell's watch, but most of the credit needs to go to the outgoing Superintendent. For the Mayor to completely ignore Durkin's contributions during his address was shortsighted and wrong.

In 2011, the local district was placed on the state's watch list and some, if not all of the district was facing the threat of a state takeover. Durkin was hired in 2013 to right a sinking ship and has made great strides since then. The district no longer faces a state takeover. Test scores are up. The drop out rate has declined and the graduation rate continues to improve significantly. None of those things happened by themselves. And with all due respect to the Mayor, it was she and not he who made it happen.

Dr. Durkin decided to resign her position and a new Superintendent is being sought. That seems to be okay with most, including Mitchell. Whatever. But, for the Mayor to completely ignore Durkin's contributions during his address was unfair.

Dr. Durkin will land on her feet and the New Bedford School System will continue to make progress under new leadership. I for one appreciate the job that Durkin has done and wish to thank her for her many contributions to our schools. We are better for having had her here.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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