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M’head superintendent faces similar fate as Everett Superintendent Tahiliani

John Buckey and Priya Tahiliani.

By Josh Resnek

The superintendent of schools in Marblehead has resigned before being ousted by the school committee despite receiving a good review of his performance from the school committee in July.

Sound familiar?

John Buckey, 49, the Marblehead superintendent agreed to resign recently under a cloud of controversy that has outraged townspeople and shaken their faith in the local school system, the Boston Globe reported Sunday.

The School Committee has offered only vague clues as to why its members sought to oust him, prompting widespread speculation about their motives — and whether they were personally or ideologically driven.

Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani is not about to resign. However she has been refused an extension of her contract following positive reviews of her performance by the school committee.

The 6 votes against extending Tahiliani’s contract have not made public statements as to exactly why they want her to leave and to find another superintendent.

The Everett School Committee several weeks ago started the process to replace Tahiliani by beginning a search for a new superintendent.

This has not been met kindly by Tahiliani’s supporters, who turned out en masse at a meeting held last week at the high school.

“I have never been given any explanation, reason or motivation,” Buckey said in a written response to questions from the Globe, as reported Sunday.

Tahiliani could pretty much say the same about her own situation.

“Superintendents in several Massachusetts municipalities have, in recent months, exited under similarly strained circumstances. In Saugus, Erin McMahon, the first woman to lead the district, has been forced by the School Committee to remain on leave since January; the committee invoked only vague concerns about her conduct during a particularly acrimonious budget cycle. School Committee members in Everett voted this spring not to renew Priya Tahiliani’s superintendent contract following years of tension between her and the mayor. This month, Michael Morris stepped down as superintendent of Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools amid an outside investigation into the treatment of transgender students at a middle school,” the Globe reported.

“The question is, what’s driving these decisions?” said Vladimir Kogan, an Ohio State University professor who studies school district politics. “To the extent that it’s really adult issues that have nothing to do with student outcomes, that’s when we should start to get concerned because ultimately it’s going to distract from what schools do,” the Globe reported.

Buckey, like Tahiliani, faced great challenges during the school closures during the pandemic.

Buckey like Tahiliani have been asked to leave but only after receiving great reviews from the majority of those asking them to leave.

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