Lana Dever of Brattleboro, shown here campaigning on Election Day, will step down from the Windham Southeast School District Board.
Randolph T. Holhut/Commons file photo
Lana Dever of Brattleboro, shown here campaigning on Election Day, will step down from the Windham Southeast School District Board.

Dever to step down from WSESD board

Cites ‘heavy load’ and time to do the work ‘the way it deserves to be done’

BRATTLEBORO — Lana Dever is stepping down from the Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) school board, effective June 16.

“The merged board with 10 schools is new and it is a heavy load,” the board's Brattleboro representative told The Commons of her decision to resign.

“This is a job with a ton of work and minimal support done by people who care deeply,” Dever continued. “This new iteration of the board requires a massive amount of work and it isn't sustainable for myself, who is also a working mother and in grad school. To do it the way it deserves to be done requires countless hours of work.”

Dever noted, for instance, that recent issues requiring grievances or contracts required six executive sessions - after regular school board meetings - and some ended at 10 p.m.

“The people who are doing it are doing us an amazing, amazing public service,” she said. “Every single person - even when I didn't agree with them - cares deeply and is working incredibly hard to understand the issues.

“You do want a board with different opinions and perspectives, and you want healthy discord, and I think we do that well,” Dever said. “I'm really deeply sad to be leaving.”

Dever won the seat in the March 2022 election, besting contender Peter Case for a three-year term. In that election, she and current board Vice Chair Deborah Stanford became the first directors of color on the board, which now has three with this year's election of Eva Nolan.

When running for the office, she said that as a board member, she would “listen to all members of our combined communities and work towards mutual agreements that acknowledge our shared interests and unique circumstances,” said Dever, the transitions and empowerment coordinator and youth-in-transition case manager for Youth Services.

“The broader scope of the current board allows us to reach across town lines and become a stronger community,” she said. “I look forward to the opportunity to work towards compassionate and equitable solutions to the problems we currently face.”

“I can't say enough what a pleasure and a privilege it has been to work with Lana,” said board colleague Tim Maciel. “At times, she was the spokesperson for the board, voicing opinions on crucially important issues that made us a better district, that resulted in a better learning environment for our students - all of our students.”

Maciel said he believes “the last time we saw this was when she spoke out so eloquently on the mascot issue.”

“We heard the strong voice of a person with not only the passion that comes out of her own lived experiences, but also a person who was well informed and intelligent in her analysis of a sensitive issue,” Maciel said. “Lana was a champion of social issues long before she joined the board, and I have no doubt she will continue to be a devoted member of our community for many years to come.”

On a personal note, Maciel said he would also miss “her kindness, her humor, and her deep compassion for others, but I'll also be thankful for what I trust will be a lasting friendship.”

A longtime activist, Dever has volunteered in numerous ways, including delivering Meals on Wheels, and she has served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont, where she continues to volunteer as a Big Sister.

She has assisted volunteer dentistry both abroad and in the local walk-in clinic, served on the allocations committee for United Way of Windham County, and worked in multiple capacities with The Root Social Justice Center.

Dever also served on the town Community Safety Review Committee to collaboratively work to find a safe and equitable solution to over-policing and harm reduction.

She plans to stay active, retaining her seat on the WSESD Social Justice Committee.

“I will be involved,” she said. “Paying attention, supporting the current board, and attending meetings when I can, and being an advocating voice on the other side.”

Dever is most proud, she said, of the inclusion of student representatives to the board and the advisory group, and of the input students have brought to light.

“To see those powerful voices - these kids are fantastic,” she said. “They really step up. We have some amazing schools in the districts we serve, and the caliber of students I've met, we're doing such a great job.”

Still, “we can do better,” Dever said.

“But overall, I really think we're doing a great job,” she said, noting that she works with “a lot of administrators and educators and parents who show up every day and put their all in the work, and I don't think we celebrate that enough,” she continued.

She noted the district has gone through much “upheaval” this year.

The WSESD has not only faced post-pandemic educational and social/emotional challenges for students but also the stress of dismissing the former principal and the ongoing sexual abuse investigation district-wide and working to address the issue of the Colonels name once and for all.

“And we're still making gains,” Dever said, urging people to “show up.”

“The board listens to all voices, and they respond in real time,” she said. “We're human beings in our community. I have a child in elementary school. We care. We care.”

Her last official day will be on graduation day for Brattleboro Union High School. She plans to attend the ceremony.

“I want to cheer this group of students on their journey and end on a high note,” she said.

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