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Write-in campaign launched days before election for Dedham school committee

Posted by Natalie Feulner  April 12, 2012 10:00 AM

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A grassroots effort to bring a new face to the Dedham School Committee has sprung up this week despite the town election being days away.

With the help of other parents and friends, community advocate and Avery Elementary School parent of three, Jennifer Barsamian, has launched a write-in campaign for the previously uncontested race.

Barsamian says on her Facebook page, “Write in Jennifer Barsamian,” that she is “honored and humbled that the community trusts in my ability and commitment to education.” She goes on to ask that Dedham voters tell 20 friends to write-in her name on April 14, but that even if she doesn’t win, she’ll continue to advocate for schools.

Barsamian’s friend and campaign leader, Jessica Porter said Wednesday the campaign grew out of frustration expressed by parents about a lack of communication between the school committee and parents.

At a meeting last week regarding elementary school redistricting, several parents including Barsamian and Porter said many of the concerns about the proposed boundaries could have been avoided if the committee informed parents earlier than the night before.

“Over the past three and a half weeks people have become disillusioned with the school committee and realized that there has been a real breakdown in their process,” Porter said.

She added that between the April 5 meeting and Monday of this week, several residents individually contacted Barsamian asking her if she would consider a write-in campaign. Porter said that as soon as Barsamian said “yes” to requests, the planning, emails, phone trees, and sign making began.

“We all know it’s a very uphill battle to think you can organize in six days what would usually take six months … there’s only so much you can do last minute but I’m hopeful that this has wo impacts - an increase in dialogue and community engagement for our schools,” Porter said.

Barsamian is the co-founder of Dedham Open Studios, Dedham Artist Guild, Dedham Shines, a returned Peace Corps volunteer, and a former middle school teacher. She is up against incumbents Joe Heisler, Kevin Coughlin, and David Roberts all seeking three open seats.

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@gmail.com.

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