School Committee votes to discuss extension of superintendent’s contract

Four members continue their anti-Tahiliani stance

By Josh Resnek

The School Committee membership decided Monday night to notify as to whether or not they will be inclined to discuss the possibility of a contract extension for Superintendent Priya Tahiliani by December 1st as required by her contract.

The vote was 6-4, and frankly, came as a bit of a surprise.

The wording for the measure is taken from the November 21 School Committee agenda: That the Everett School Committee notify the Superintendent of Schools in writing no later than December 1, 2022, whether or not it wishes to commence negotiations for a successor agreement.

School Committee member Millie Cardello voted for the measure, an unusual move for the senior committeewoman who has shown a propensity to vote as the mayor votes.

The mayor voted against the measure, as did committeemen Jason Marcus, Joe LaMonica and Mike McLaughlin.

The mayor is opposed to Tahiliani and has been for quite some time.

It is no wonder.

Tahiliani filed a complaint against him to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination claiming racism and sexist behavior.

That complaint is still pending.

The others who voted against the measure tend to do as the mayor does.

The possibility for Tahiliani’s contract extension being approved is a far cry from the situation that existed when the mayor first came onto the School Committee as a voting member.

At that time, the mayor appeared to control at least six votes on the School Committee.

It appeared to be the certain end of Tahiliani.

Along the way, however, Tahiliani picked up the support of School Committee Chair Jeanne Cristiano and Committeeman Mike Mangan, which turned the voting scenario almost upside down.

Cardello becoming the swing vote in what appears to be another tectonic change, could very well tip the scales in favor of Tahiliani over the mayor and his supporters.

This remains to be seen.

Monday’s vote was a small, temporary but significant victory for Tahiliani.

Before the start of the meeting, the public speaking portion of the council included 10 voices, among them, Josh Steinberg, who delivered a magnum opus type speech to the School Committee detailing with passion and intensity how everything had come to be what it is on this night.

“Superintendent Tahiliani was all about change. Beholden to no political favors. She stood up for what is right. She put students first. The EPS are in a significantly better position than before,” he said.

Also, at least eight out of the 10 who spoke favored the reappointment of Tahiliani, with most of them asking for those opposed to her for political or personal reasons to put that aside.

Nancy Sanchetta’s comments were also startlingly detailed and in a way, profound. She neither condemned Tahiliani nor praised her but seemed to point out that much has been lost during the past three years.

Shane McNally, another articulate, passionate educational voice, pleaded with the School Committee to stop condoning bad behavior and to drop the cult of personality that holds sway over some member’s votes.

Tony Raymond and Ma- ria Bussle asked the School Committee to extend the superintendent’s contract. Bussle again asked that she not be retaliated against for her public comments supporting the superintendent – which was aimed directly at the mayor.

Peggy Serino said Tahiliani was doing a fantastic job walking through minefield.

Representing the NAACP, Vincent Dixon delivered distinguished comments admonishing all involved to be thoughtful and to do the right thing.

Janice Lark had one brief comment: Please renew the superintendent’s contract.

Bill Thompson said politics should be put aside. He said Tahiliani should be reconsidered on merit.

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