EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Another wrinkle in Easthampton’s search for a new superintendent of Schools.

A candidate who withdrew was accused of being transphobic by some Easthampton students. That candidate, Dr. Erica Faginski-Stark, accepted an offer only to withdraw a few days later.

Email correspondence between Easthampton Students and Mayor Nicole Lachapelle show that the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance expressed concerns over what they call “conservative transphobic rhetoric” that Faginski-Stark posted to her personal Facebook account.

Screenshots show she posted a video from a right-wing outlet, commenting on transgender athletes in women’s sports, along with a separate post about Title IX protections for women’s sports.

The mayor responded to students on Thursday, April 13, saying she would follow up on their concerns. One day later, Faginski-Stark withdrew.

“The candidate withdrew, let our chair know, and we go into our regular school committee meeting on April 25, and discuss the options,” says Mayor LaChapelle.

The mayor communicated the withdrawal to those students through email on April 14, saying she was grateful that they voiced their concerns. 22News has reached out to Dr. Faginski-Stark about those concerns, she is currently out of the office.

Grace Moreno, Executive Director for the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, highlights how important it was for these students to come forward with their concerns. “Students took the time to write to the mayor and say ‘hey we hear this, this is not ok’,” says Moreno. “In this little town, in the western part of Massachusetts, there are students actually taking control of their peers, they are protecting their peers, they are protecting each other.”

Moreno says the city of Easthampton should be proud of their young people for using their voice, “Kids are really holding adults accountable, to the point where these students are reaching out to the mayor? That’s true accountability and exercising empowerment.”

“People are stepping up, young people are stepping up. I think a true oasis of inclusion is on its way, and I think it’s beautiful that it’s happening here in Easthampton,” Moreno added.

According to the Ludlow Public Schools website, Dr. Faginiski-Stark is the current Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the district.

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