Bristol Warren superintendent resigns following first-day-of-school debacle

East Bay

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The day after issuing a directive ensuring the Bristol Warren Regional School District will not start next year on a Jewish holiday, Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Brice has decided to step down.

In a letter sent to the community Tuesday, Brice said while the decision was not made lightly, it is in the best interest of his family that he resign.

“My career has always been a priority, but the pandemic and the loss of my mother has shown me how precious life is and I can no longer accept not seeing and being with my family as much as possible,” he wrote.

Brice’s announcement comes one day after he ordered the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee to adjust next year’s academic calendar so that the first day of school does not fall on the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

For the past couple of months, the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island has been at odds with the school committee over starting the school year on one of their holiest holidays. The nonprofit initially asked the district to consider changing the start date, but the committee denied their request.

Committee Chairwoman Marjorie McBride has said she will not dispute Brice’s directive and the calendar will be adjusted.

Brice said it was an honor to serve as the district’s superintendent for the past two years.

“I wish the entire BWRSD community success in the future,” he added.

Michelle Way DaSilva, co-president of the Bristol Warren Education Association (BWEA), released a statement saying members were saddened to hear of Brice’s departure.

“In the two years we have worked with Dr. Brice, we have come to know him as a highly capable, intelligent, caring, and reasonable superintendent – the best we have seen in our tenure in this district,” she wrote. “While we did not always see eye to eye, Dr. Brice and the BWEA were able to maintain a strong working relationship. He had the ability to listen to teachers, parents and students, and to change his mind. He is a gracious man, and we are sorry to see him go.”

“Common experience of adversity can bring people together and help them find a shared purpose, which we experienced many times during Dr. Brice’s tenure,” she continued. “We earnestly hope the school committee reflects on the lessons that can be learned from this experience and chooses to make significant changes in its behavior in relation, not only to our teachers – who have worked through COVID without a settled contract and with only the superintendent’s word as protection – but also in relation to any new superintendent it may hire.”

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