Ukulele Songster Leads To Walkout by School Committee Members

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A ukulele-wielding critic of the Natick School Committee got shot down during a meeting recently when he tried to make remarks about the recently resigned superintendent and a potential replacement for him.

Ronald Alexander, of Wellesley, who said he had already filed three Open Meeting Law violation complaints against the School Committee, began his public comment with a song accompanied by a ukulele.

A video of the March 12 meeting made by the local cable access television station shows Alexander singing a rhyming song that begins:

“O where, o where has the superintendent gone
O whatever happened to he?”

The former superintendent, Peter Sanchioni, resigned abruptly after a closed session with the School Committee on February 28. The School Committee chairman, Lisa Tabenkin, later said Sanchioni resigned “for personal, family, and medical reasons,” without saying what they were, according to The MetroWest Daily News, which also reported Saturday morning Alexander’s ukulele appearance before the School Committee last week. (The video was first reported earlier this month by Turtleboy Sports.)

Sanchioni’s sudden departure after 10 years on the job has fed rumors in the town of 32,000.

Alexander had gotten through three lines of his song March 12 when the School Committee chairman tried to interrupt him, saying that he was violating committee policy by being disruptive and discussing school personnel in a defamatory manner during the public comment period. She allowed Alexander to continue his remarks, but when he started to talk about concerns he has about a potential candidate to fill the vacancy, Tabenkin ordered him to sit down.

Alexander refused, saying he rightfully had the floor and that she was violating his free speech rights. But Tabenkin noted that a school committee chairman has the right to determine who can and can’t speak during a committee meeting.

“Call the police if you don’t like that I violated your policies,” Alexander replied.

At that point, Tabenkin suspended the meeting and members left the room.

According to The MetroWest Daily News, two Natick police officers later came to the meeting room, which has a rainbow flag with the word “PEACE” on it hanging from a wall, and spoke to Alexander, after which the meeting resumed. Alexander was not arrested, according to the Daily News.

Natick School Committee members get up to leave the room after the chairman suspends the meeting Monday, March 12. A rainbow flag with the word “PEACE” on it is hanging from the wall at right.