Third of a Series

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MAY 6, 2019) — On the Pittsfield School Department website, you’ll find the city’s fictional anti-bullying statement.


Lying words.

That Mean Nothing.

Verbal halitosis.

You’ve likely never actually read this document.

Now’s your chance to put the dipstick into the well of deceit and corruption that infects this department led by “JIV” McCandless and “Lady Boots” Yon and to appreciate its “deep depth.”

Every syllable forms an indictment of the department’s administration and school committee, a department that eats up $112,802,202 of the city’s annual budget — more than a tenth of a billion each year to run this monument of failure (42% supplied by city taxpayers, 52% by state taxpayers, 6% by federal taxes). This year, JIV and Yon will ask for and receive millions more in dollars and dozens more in added positions. The mayor, school committee, and city council will comply. It’s politics, baby!

———- ooo ———-

In the late 1960s at the height of double sessions in the high school, the department had 12,263 students and 351 teachers (a 35:1 ratio). Today, 5,608 children are enrolled taught by 444 teachers (a 12:1 ratio, average salary of $76,981 plus bennies).

Back then, there were few problems with discipline. If we had sideburns below the earlobes, they bounced us home. Today, violence and classroom chaos reign among kids dressed like its Halloween. The administration is bloated and sealed off from its own problems by six-figure salaries, exemplified by the PSD’s business office. Back then, there was one business manager and a secretary. Today, we have:

  • Kristen Behnke, assistant superintendent of business and finance
  • Jeanne Birros, senior account clerk
  • Patricia Brown, senior account clerk
  • Kim Dascani, senior account clerk
  • Cynthia Ray, senior account clerk
  • Pam Delmolino, senior account clerk
  • Patricia Miller, secretary
  • Kathleen Roche, accountant
  • Jim Sanderson, assistant business manager.

One position remains open and might be filled in the new fiscal year.

Speaks for itself.

Here now is the department’s bold anti-bullying statement:

———- 000 ———-

Parent Information Regarding Anti-Bullying Efforts in the Pittsfield Public Schools
Children learn best when they feel safe, respected and cared for. Pittsfield Public Schools strives to create a safe positive learning environment that prevents bullying and promotes responsible, respectful student behavior. The roots of bullying, taunting, teasing, and other uncaring behaviors in children are complex. Bullying is defined as unfair and one-sided. It happens when someone keeps hurting, frightening, threatening, or leaving someone out on purpose.

The Pittsfield Public Schools is in the process of adding to its violence prevention programming. Over the next year, we will be working on implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in your child(ren)’s school. The goal of this research-based program is to reduce bullying in schools and make school a safer, more positive place where students can learn. This program addresses bullying at the school-wide, classroom, individual, and community levels. Feel free to contact Ann Marie Carpenter, the Unit Leader for School Adjustment Counselors/School Psychologists, or Jennifer Stokes, Violence Prevention SAC, for more information. Further, Kim Blair from the District Attorney’s Office is working collaboratively with us and is a further resource for you. If you would like to view more information about the Olweus program, you can visit their website,

As part of the implementation process, each School Building has created a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee as an arm of its School Climate/PBS Committee. In addition, the district has developed an anti-bullying policy and specific procedures for responding to bullying reports that is in the process of review by the School Committee. This draft is also included on the website.

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, tell him/her what you have noticed. Make sure you explain that it is not his/her fault if other children are picking on or excluding him/her. Encourage your child to tell you and other adults at school what is happening and how he/she is feeling. Make sure your child knows to tell you if the bullying happens again.

If you think your child is bullying others, describe what you have seen. Let him/her know that you care and want to help him/her learn how to treat other children in a kind and caring manner. Explain and enforce the consequences. A great interactive website for children is

We encourage you to communicate your concerns to school personnel. Remember that bullying can take place over a period of time, so you may need to talk with school personnel more than once. Your child may be fearful of your contacting the school, but it is always better to include us in solving the problem. Please contact the many resources at your child’s school. They include:

•The School Principal
•The Vice Principal/Dean of Students/Community Coordinator
•The School Adjustment Counselor
•Your Child’s Teachers
•Your Child’s Guidance Counselor (middle and high schools)
•The School Psychologist

Family Involvement is an important part of creating and maintaining a safe, cooperative and compassionate school environment. We look forward to working together with you to establish school communities that have zero tolerance for bullying behavior. There will be more information for parents in the future.

———- 000 ———-

Official Pittsfield, meanwhile, will continue to fund this disgrace.

THE PLANET will watch with unaffected glee as the city reap the (un)just rewards.


When there is no alternative, there is no problemJames Burnham.



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  1. Johnny99
    May 5, 2019 at 7:51 pm #

    Yup. Restorative Justice is a HUGE contributing factor in all this school violence. Google it. And Tyer and MicCandles brag about it.

  2. dusty
    May 6, 2019 at 2:16 am #

    So what is the cost per pupil per year? Can you divide the number of students into the total budget? And if so is that like $20,000 per student? Does this include the school bus monster budget? Does it include police presents at the schools? Does it include maintenance and snow plowing?

    Might be very interesting to get an actual figure as it might be a real WTF number.

  3. The school committee
    May 6, 2019 at 3:55 am #

    Your right Dan,there is a dog and pony show here run by Yon.The number 1 issue in this city is the shrinking of student population because of verbal violence and behavior in physical intimidation and posturing in the middle schools.They continue to adhere to the mainstreaming of disruptive students.Not one school adjustment councilor has ever taught a class of behavior students. The special ed department and McCandless mock teachers who seek to remove kids saying its the teachers fault.

  4. Brian C. Marquis
    May 6, 2019 at 5:01 am #

    The idea to so many underlings is to shield the smuck at the top of the food chain. I’m not accountable for any screwups; that (and all heretofore) screwups belong solely to my assistant to the assistant deputy assistant to the superintendent, or his or her subordinate.

    Get the picture.

    One trait to top-down management is the ability to shift blame and accountability downwards at Mach speeds.

    And that’s the bottom-line!!

    • Sojourner Truth
      May 6, 2019 at 5:47 am #

      Paraphrasing; In the service we simply said shit runs downhill.

  5. The school committee
    May 6, 2019 at 5:07 am #

    The mayor needs to become aware of gang related attitudes in children at the middle svhools.Moon,Caccamo ah forget Caccamo he does not care and his Ward does not care.

    • LoneGunMan
      May 6, 2019 at 6:52 am #

      We care, we just know that he’s an elitist hipster who caters to his little clique of ultra-left leaning liberals and it’s pointless to try.

      I recall one time Marchetti had to DRAG HIM to address an constituents concerns that he was ignoring.

      He lays low, collects his check and health insurance and toes the party line. He’s also going to get his masters in public policy. Essentially another do nothing Bernie Sanders who will make a career as a politician

      Hoepfully someone else runs this time around. I’d do it, but I want to die with friends

      • Spagirl
        May 6, 2019 at 4:25 pm #

        Ward 3 needs someone to run against Caccamo. He is non responsive and does nothing for the Citizens in Ward 3.

  6. Shaun
    May 6, 2019 at 5:59 am #

    Hinds, Farley-Bouvier, Mark, and Pignitelli all voted for the CJ reform bill. This is what happens when politicians attempt to make careers out of their respective offices instead of keeping the constituents best interest in mind. Where is their accountability in all of this? The CJ reform bill is terrible, shame on them for voting for it!

    • Mr. Fritz
      May 6, 2019 at 8:35 am #

      I couldn’t agree more, Shaun!

      • James
        May 7, 2019 at 6:40 am #

        These dems also stood by while TFB tried to bully Judy Knight out of running for DA. They supported Harrington, a total incompetent who never tried a case or did anything for the public and wants to mollycoddle criminals. Does any one of them even believe in this crap or is it all in the name of party politics? Where’s the accountability there?

  7. Kermit Frog
    May 6, 2019 at 6:05 am #

    This is about as ineffective and ill informed as I would expect coming from this office. You only have to be a parent to know that the one you catch being bad may not be the one to instigate. Also, in a bad system kids are both bullies and victims and PSD is so far gone I think we are there. Look at Columbine – the kids committing violence were the ones claiming to be bullied.
    I see this as a get out of responsibility card which is the only card I would expect the school to pull.
    How many social workers work for PSD? Can we fire them all?

  8. Flogging Molly
    May 6, 2019 at 7:39 am #

    Why is it the Superintendent and School Committees fault that people are out of control. Look no farther than the media and you will see that bullying is at a all time high in this country by adults as well as children. People shooting people because they took the traffic lane they wanted to take, ghetto rats beating the crap out of McDonald’s staff because their order wasn’t to their liking and on and on it goes. Oh and the school system gets penalized and scolded if their suspension rate is too high.
    The real problem is the whole nation.

    • Mr. Fritz
      May 6, 2019 at 8:34 am #

      No I disagree Molly – much of the blame falls on the schools as teachers are not supported by the administrators ( the kids are never to blame for their behavior) and discipline is not enforced. The kid who spit on a teacher this morning will be back in the classroom same day.
      Dan is spot on with his column.

      • LoneGunMan
        May 7, 2019 at 4:24 am #

        Teachers are regularly assaulted at PHS.

    • Johnny99
      May 6, 2019 at 11:16 am #

      Correct. Obamas justice department threatened schools because too many black males were getting suspended – didn’t matter if they deserved it – and that bs led to restorative justice that miccandles and Tyer brag of. Google “restorative justice school failure”. Even though Trump put and end to the threats, stupid policy still exists. Behave or Begone.

  9. Truthsayer
    May 6, 2019 at 8:20 am #

    Reform essentially eliminated any real consequences for criminal/bad acts. Without consequences, there’s no incentive to walk a straight line.

    Whether it’s school or criminal justice, reform never seems to end up with better results. As Andy Rooney once said, “In my experience, new and improved usually isn’t.”

  10. Kermit Frog
    May 6, 2019 at 9:16 am #

    Molly – I agree but it is the Supers fault the kids can’t read/write do the math. If the social workers are ineffective to help the behavior issues – let’s stop paying for them. The teachers work 7 months a year and are always crying about money. Other societies pay less and get much more, even with children beginning school not knowing English as a first language. American schools are 35 or something in the world and we pay the most per pupil. There is something going on.
    I agree society is a mess. My point is that elementary schools are failing so it’s not suprise middle schools are failing.
    And indeed, we live in a blue state and blue district and even if we took our crummy president away everything would still be bad here in Berkshire Co. Except if you are a teacher and everything is everyone else’s fault and you can only wait to get to the summer.

    • Thomas More
      May 6, 2019 at 5:07 pm #

      and your point is?

      • Kermit Frog
        May 6, 2019 at 7:34 pm #

        My point is, I guess, that no one is coming to ‘save’ the schools. There is no reason with the money and resources that combined with some good leadership they can’t fix themselves.
        I have a lot of sympathy for the kids, especially the little ones and struggling families. Did it take years to get this bad? With all our problems locally with employment, crime, gangs and drugs It might take years to fix this and they need to own it first to fix it

  11. Jonathan Melle
    May 6, 2019 at 10:56 am #

    I don’t care who you are or where you come from, everyone has experienced bullying! Moreover, everyone has been a bully, and everyone has been bullied. It is a right of passage.

    I think one of the answers to bullying is to be an emotionally supportive person to your friends and loved ones. Also, you eventually learn who not to be in your life. If a bully hurt you, then you learn not to be like them.

    When confronting a bully, not only stand up to their repugnant behavior, but also let them know they can and should change their ways.

    If you are feeling depressed or suicidal from someone’s abuse, then seek help and take care of yourself and others being victimized.

    – Jonathan Melle

    • Brian C. Marquis
      May 7, 2019 at 5:03 am #

      You’re way off base, Johnathan Melle, bullying is not – and never has been “a right [sic’ of passage”.

      Your attitude is one reason why kids bully or are targets of bullying.

      Your justification is twisted; it serves no social or academic redeeming value – whatsoever.

      And that’s the bottom-line!!

  12. The school committee
    May 6, 2019 at 11:33 am #

    We live in a country where Trump loves Russia and hates American Democrats

    • Edward R. Murrow
      May 7, 2019 at 6:41 am #

      Dems are going after Barr because the heavy guns have been repositioned and aimed back at them–Obama/Clinton.

      We have seen or heard almost no argument for the defense in this Stalinist how trial called the Russian Collusion Delusion.

      So if Dems are really, I mean really, concerned about Russian/foreign involvement in our electoral process, then they should welcome Barr’s investigation to the other campaign of 2016.

      And that $13 mil the king of Morocco gave tot he Clinton Crime Foundation?

      Or how Hillary as secretary of state looked the other way when the Swedes gave her foundation cash while they were violating US sanctions on Iran.

      What’s needed here is a full replay of the 2016 campaign–maybe one of those two-hour “Frontline” shows on PBS.

      Let’s review the Clintons’ careers, how she rigged the nomination process, the foundation funny business, how Hillary could barely stand up a lot of the time, took days off at a time, some of HER associates, play a montage of all her different phoney accents depending on her audience.

      And then you had the despicable behavior of Dem operatives–hiring mentally ill homeless to provoke violence at Trump rallies. Start there.

    • Trump Train
      May 7, 2019 at 1:54 pm #

      You too should hate and fight the philosophy of the current Democratic Party. Thank God for President Trump and his willingness to fight the sheer evil in the modern Democratic Party.

      The democrats have gone from social reform to hard line communist operatives. There can be no compromise with this evil.

  13. The school committee
    May 6, 2019 at 11:58 am #

    Don’t send kids to Herberg school until disruptive kids are sent home to Those responsible for them.I can tell you that Amuso,Yon,Eberwien, Massimiano screwed up 10 years ago and it has cost Pittsfield 10s of millions.We are in deep financial trouble ahead.Get 6 graders to other school not in Pittsfield

    • Johnny Absurd
      May 6, 2019 at 2:26 pm #

      With a mayor like Tyer McCandless knows he can just print money on the taxpayer dime. When you yourself are loaded you don’t worry to much about the effect your greed is having on others. It is all ME ME ME when it comes to McCandless school system. Eff everybody else.

      • Thomas More
        May 6, 2019 at 5:09 pm #


  14. The school committee
    May 6, 2019 at 12:06 pm #

    McCandless and Yon must remove their ego and admit to out of control classrooms where people are not being taught because of behaviors .Need a new philosophy.The DAunder Moons direction should get these soon to be jailed 11 year olds off sight to address their behaviors in a therapeutic room not in the schools.

  15. Lenny
    May 6, 2019 at 1:40 pm #

    Makes me think back to the days of my Catholic education – those nuns administered discipline with the smack of a long thick wooden ruler! Bring back the nuns!

    • Harrison
      May 6, 2019 at 1:49 pm #

      Yeah sure. Let’s also bring back the pedophile priests while we’re at it. Oh wait, they haven’t left.

  16. Jonathan Melle
    May 6, 2019 at 3:23 pm #

    Re: My answer to Celia Armstrong’s op-ed

    I grew up in Pittsfield and lived in the area until I was 28.5-years old until the winter/spring of 2004. I have read many stories about Pittsfield, too. There was a book written about Pittsfield’s high per capita teen pregnancy rate that doubles the statewide average. Also, there have been many studies about Pittsfield’s distressed local economy.

    Pittsfield has a negative attitude towards its youth. Over 600 students per academic year choice out of Pittsfield schools. Even some politicians have sent their children to other school districts or Miss Hall’s School. Many teachers don’t live in Pittsfield anymore.

    Since 1990, or nearly 30 years ago, GE cut its workforce in Pittsfield. For the past 3 decades, Pittsfield has done absolutely nothing to bring in even one new living wage private sector job. PEDA was created during the Summer of 1998 and will be 21 years old this Summer of 2019. Millions of dollars has been spent on PEDA’s polluted parcel of land, but it has seen zero dollars in private development!

    Pittsfield politics is ran by a group of insider, interrelated political hacks called the “Good Old Boys” (G.O.B.). The G.O.B. takes care of there incestuous clique, while serving the vested interests – the Big 3 public unions (Police, Fire, and School) – by raising municipal taxes by 5 percent per fiscal year.

    On the surface, I would say that Pittsfield doesn’t care about its social and economic issues. But, beneath the surface, I believe that Pittsfield is using “perverse incentives” to collect public dollars from the state and federal government over having living wage jobs. To be clear, I believe that Pittsfield wants people to be poor, teenagers to get pregnant, its county jail to be full of inmates, and its local economy distressed. The more poverty, welfare, teen pregnancies, crime, and other socioeconomic issues, means more federal dollars for its municipal government.

    It is making me feel sick to write about this, but I believe it is what is really going on in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

    – Jonathan Melle

    • doomiedodger
      May 7, 2019 at 6:05 am #

      I have been around this burg a long time Johnathon and I see no reason to refute anything you have just written. Sometimes the truth hurts but nothing will change until we own up to our problems.

      Sadly I do not see how the general population wrest back their political care taking from a way too powerful quasi government.

  17. C. Trzcinka
    May 6, 2019 at 8:43 pm #

    Middle school bad behavior is not a particularly complicated problem to solve. You show the kids who is in charge, if they resist you use force.

    But the Pittsfield school thinks:

    “If you think your child is bullying others, describe what you have seen. Let him/her know that you care and want to help him/her learn how to treat other children in a kind and caring manner. Explain and enforce the consequences. A great interactive website for children is

    Explain and enforce consequences how? By sending a child to a website? My Dad would clobber me if he thought I was bullying another kid. It would happen long before I heard a lecture about “a kind and caring manner”.

    Parents who follow the school’s advice are avoiding responsibility.

    • danvalenti
      May 7, 2019 at 7:37 am #

      Great response. “My dad would clobber me is he thought I was bullying another kid.” Says it all. You and I had the same dad!

  18. The school committee
    May 7, 2019 at 1:18 am #

    Herberg school children need adults in the hall and the classroom.Teachers are threatened with verbal violence and the kids are not dealt with by administrators .Hiding in office as they are afraid to address kids and report it to 1st street.You must make safety of staff and students number 1.Yon and Taylor,Elias,Cameron must step up as men and women and back teachers.Yon is very close to a state takeover because the committee is in denial

    • LoneGunMan
      May 7, 2019 at 6:38 am #

      They had a few very strong candidates for the Principal of Herberg a few years ago. They chose to give it to Gina Coleman who had zero practical experience. However, she had a Ph.D and the proper skin color. She lasted what? a year or two then left to pursue her dream as Aretha Franklin

      Meanwhile, those other candidates are working in districts outside of the Berkshires and running fantastic schools.

      Now you have Marty Do-nothing McAvoy who failed at Lanesborough and was hated by 90% of the staff.

      good choice. I’m sure that new Vice Principal of Teaching and Learning will make all the difference. Teachers I know (and myself until retirement recently) worked in schools outside the berkshires. Schools just as big, smaller budgets, better staff (they weed out the bad ones before tenure sets in) and they are level 1 and 2 districts. Ironically, most of those school ran with minimal administration. (i.e. Principal, Vice Principal and MAYBE dean of students)

      Pittsfield, you are a JOKE. (see Brendan Sheeran)

    • Spagirl
      May 7, 2019 at 10:07 am #

      Exactly what happens when the State takes over the schools? Does this Superintendant have any accountability?

  19. The school committee
    May 7, 2019 at 7:49 am #

    The problems had nothing to do with her as it started 10 years ago by a white Superintendant and white Sherrif bad a all white school committee and the majority are white students with white parents not helping this community deal with Gangs.

    • John Duns Scotus
      May 7, 2019 at 5:22 pm #

      Thank god Dennis Powell tells us about black cowboys at school committee meetings.

  20. doomiedodger
    May 7, 2019 at 7:50 am #

    With all the money and excess of teachers Pittsfield should be able to separate the assholes from the children who really want to learn something. Apparently there are at least 600 children whose parents think things are so bad that they are willing to deal with the aggravation of having to get their kids out of town to a more conducive learning environment.

    For a city to have over a 100 million dollar school budget yet produce such a shitty learning environment suggests a strong need for a top down audit and investigation of how the failure is manifesting itself.

    Unless of course the real purpose is other than giving children a safe and quality education. And I personally do have doubts.

  21. The school committee
    May 7, 2019 at 7:56 am #

    Schools are not prisons.Remove the behavior programs off the site.We need a therapeutic program outside of the schools.Schools should educate children and they should not be threatend when learning.The schools dont have a clue so they spend milluons.Yon has to admit she and Jake dont know what they are doing.They have great teachers and lousy administrators who mostly hated teaching and dont like working with kids.

  22. The school committee
    May 7, 2019 at 8:01 am #

    The DAs office with Moon should run a therapeutic program and education should be put on hold so they can re enter schools when the courts decide.The courts should budget this program. Moon should put a plan in place for next year.

    • LoneGunMan
      May 7, 2019 at 8:31 am #

      That’s about as possible as Caccamo exhibiting common sense and listening to people outside his inner circle.

  23. Fretu
    May 7, 2019 at 8:05 am #

    Bullying is everywhere and in neighborhoods adults and kids. Heck,when I went to St. Joe they had it there,and PHS and now Taconic,Reid,what else is new. One thing I do know,telling on the bully will only get you ostracized even more.

  24. LoneGunMan
    May 7, 2019 at 8:33 am #

    In positive news, Stockbridge voted in Vinny Garofoli as the new Fire Chief

    He’s a great man, a fantastic fire fighter/EMT and the perfect choice for the job.

  25. Deftonese
    May 7, 2019 at 11:12 am #

    Man there are some school scummy corridoors in thiS city, first and north to name one of several.

  26. The school committee
    May 7, 2019 at 1:04 pm #

    Millions wasted,social security checks wasted.Schools need to get out of the business of disiplin. One rule ,behave or see Mz Moon at the DAs office for review.Automatic call and student pickup and removal from building.Zero tolerance with common sense.

  27. Reignbow
    May 7, 2019 at 4:36 pm #

    Trump business reported by Reuters loss over a billion dollars the last ten years,no other businessman has ever lost that much. He is the ultimate con man and must be relieved as President.

  28. Reignbow
    May 7, 2019 at 6:03 pm #

    Republicans I. Both houses are trying to circumvent the rule of law. Graham and McConell, Dinosaurs trying to strong arm the rule of law. The fact that Trump circurmvent paying his fair share of taxes over a ten year period to the tune of one BILLION dollars,should give pause to any American Citizen who faithfully pays their fair share of taxes.

    We have entered a stage of ugliness in thTrump era and anyone who supports Trump from this point on deserves to go down in flames, which Trump just a matter time.

  29. jon doe
    May 7, 2019 at 8:34 pm #

    The problem is that non productive citizens are having children at double the rate of productive citizens. Their children then produce more unproductive citizens and the numbers keep multiplying. It is not a good scenario. Naturally many of the productive citizens are taking advantage of school choice to get them out of having to go to school with delinquent children. In defense of the school department, the schools cannot be expected to raise people’s children and turn them into upstanding citizens. At some point that has to happen at home, but given the parents, that it an unlikely scenario. I wish I had the answer, but nothing is a simple as it seems.

  30. Shaun
    May 9, 2019 at 7:30 am #

    Another question the general public should ask is how does Reid middle school go without a resource officer for a period of time? Is Chief Wynn to blame for this mismanagement of staffing levels or Dr. McCandless for allowing this position to go unstaffed? I’m pretty sure there was a good reason an officer was installed at that school for the last ten years or so. Either way it is unacceptable. The citizens of this community should demand accountability of these officials.