Community questioning finalists and selection choice Committee

“Why weren’t local applicants interviewed?” the mayor asks at public meeting

By Josh Resnek

The four finalists for the superintendent’s position here have never worked a day as a superintendent in any school system, have never managed a budget even half the size of Everett’s, do not live here or have any relationship whatsoever with the local school system.

One of the finalists is not yet certified to be a superintendent. Another finalist is suing the school system she is presently employed by. A third finalist is a labor lawyer with no experience as a superintendent.

The three local administrators refused an interview, are all certified to be superintendents, have a deep understanding of the community. All three grew up here and attended public schools here and have deep roots and longtime associations with the community and with the educators and students they lead.

Between them, there are 85 years of Everett Public Schools experience and careers that have been exemplary.

Janice Gauthier is working as the acting superintendent. Charlie Obremski is an assistant superintendent.

Dr. Omar Easy is the assistant high school principal.

Picking a new superintendent is turning out to be a compromised process, with charges of discrimination and exclusion coming from a variety of sectors throughout the city.

Most key policy makers within the schools have remained tightlipped, and members of the school committee have done the same for fear of provoking School Committee Chair Thomas Abruzzese.

Teachers, administrators and many parents have been talking among themselves and wondering how and why qualified local candidates have been excluded from the mix of those vying for the superintendent’s position?

The mayor voiced a measure of public concern about this issue last week at the School Committee meeting where 4 finalists were chosen and for the first time identified.

They are: Thomas Flanagan, Thomas Stewart, Priya Tahiliani, and Attorney Paul Toner.

A review of their resumes reveals none of the finalists have created or been responsible for a budget in excess of $40 million.

Everett’s school budget is about $120 million.

None of the finalists has worked as a superintendent of schools. Flanagan has not yet been officially certified to be a superintendent in Massachusetts. He has been working in the Providence Public Schools where he has never managed a budget over $42 million. He has served in four or five school systems across the nation in different capacities including that as teacher and administrator. He apparently lives in Rhode Island.

Stewart is a former teacher and principal in Worcester now studying to receive his doctorate in educational leadership at Harvard. He is presently employed as a superintendent fellow in Worcester. He lives in Watertown. He lists no experience with creating a school department budget.

Tahiliani is an assistant superintendent in the failing Boston Public School system. She is an expert at creative writing. She is also working on a doctorate. She has never managed a budget over $12 million. A Boston Globe report indicates she is involved in a lawsuit with the Boston school system at the present time alleging the school system created an atmosphere of pay bias and a difficult environment for women.

Toner is a former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association with a clear understanding about how to negotiate a contract for teachers. He has never managed a school system. His largest budget leadership responsibility was $40 million for the MTA. He is a lawyer. He has never been a superintendent. He lives in Cambridge.

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