AMHERST — A unanimous decision was reached by the Amherst Pelham Regional Public Schools School Committee and the Union 26 School Committee to name Ericilda Xiomara Herman the district’s next superintendent, pending contract negotiations.

During a lengthy discussion at its April 29 meeting, the two committees tasked with selecting a superintendent for the regional district had positive discussions on the candidates before selecting Herman. Herman has been serving as the superintendent in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Along with Herman as finalist for the position were Joanne Menard, an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Holliston, and Susan Gilson, an assistant superintendent and middle school principal in the King Phillip Regional School District in Wrentham.


The search came about after former Superintendent Michael Morris resigned in August 2023 amidst a Title IX investigation into claims of gender discrimination at Amherst Regional Middle School initially reported by the student newspaper, The Graphic. Prior to his August resignation, Morris took a medical leave in May when the claims were first made, placing then-Finance Director Douglas Slaughter into the interim superintendent role.

The Title IX investigation led to three Amherst Regional Middle School staffers being placed on administrative leave but ultimately later cleared by the district. Former Assistant Superintendent Doreen Cunningham was also placed on administrative leave before parting ways with the district in October. She had also filed a discrimination lawsuit against the district.

While the ARMS staff members were cleared by the district, the investigation report released to the public did determine Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools failed to effectively address claims of harassment and misconduct by middle school staff against LGBTQ+ students.

The decision

The search committee interviewed six candidates in total throughout the process before the April 29 decision.
During the discussion, Union 26 School Committee Chair Irv Rhodes expressed reservations about Herman. He added that he felt Menard had submitted a more thorough entry plan, and that Menard was already familiar with the Massachusetts education system.

“Dr. Herman could do the job, but I have some reservations about her and the relationship of stepping into the Amherst regional schools as superintendent and navigating all of the issues that are there,” Rhodes said. “I have severe concerns and I want our superintendent to come in and be here for some time and give us some stability. Those concerns may not play out, but my anxiety is there.”

This opinion was shared by other committee members during the meeting. The common theme among these sentiments was that they felt Menard’s experience in state could help open more doors for the district. In the end, Rhodes, along with the two committees, voted for Herman unanimously to take on the role.

“The experience she would bring from having been in St. Croix for so long would be wonderful,” said Regional School Committee member Sarah Marshall.

School Committee member Bridget Hynes said she believed that Herman could succeed in what has been a challenging environment as of late for the district and that she had consistently moved up through promotions in her previous district. Fellow member Jennifer Shiao credited Herman for being student-centered and was the only finalist with superintendent experience.

Amherst Regional School Committee Chair Sarahbess Kenney said being from another area could be seen as an advantage for the district with Herman. Other members shared common appreciation for Herman’s submitted entry plan being capable of starting seamlessly once she becomes superintendent.

Amherst Pelham Regional School Committee member Anna Heard summed it up well for fellow members when speaking on how Herman’s experience will give the district a fresh perspective moving forward.

“I think the fact that she is a superintendent right now and that she has been promoted from within multiple times because of her ability to lead gives me some confidence she will be able to step in and lead from the start. I do think there’s going to be a learning curve. I think no doubt that there’s going to be a learning curve for anyone coming outside of Massachusetts, but I think, like Sarah said, do we always want to just hire someone from within Massachusetts or do we have some room to invite people from outside of Massachusetts who have less experience with our systems and our regional school systems who could maybe then learn those systems, but then also provide some really innovative or new ideas that come from a different experience. I am interested in that perspective,” said Heard.

Once contract negotiations are agreed to, Herman would officially be appointed as the new superintendent on July 1. The full discussion and decision can be viewed on the Amherst Media YouTube channel.