By Josh Resnek
Allegations of various complaints from ten employees, all unnamed, some of them union employees, who alleged retaliation, discrimination, hostile behavior, and the general feeling of fearfulness about Superintendent Priya Tahiliani, led to her being placed on administrative leave Monday night.
At a contentious meeting quite often roiling out of order, six members of the school committee made the case that the ten allegations against Tahiliani needed to be investigated and that during the investigation and until its outcome is determined, Tahiliani will be on a paid leave of absence.
“None of these allegations are deemed to be true. They could all be false. They should be investigated,” the school committee’s lawyer told the body.
The ten complaints uniquely and unusually came from the city’s Human Resources Department.
In other words, ten individuals evaded the school department Human Resources Department for their alleged fear of retaliation and went to city hall to file their complaints.
There are apparently ten redacted complaints.
Several school committee members, allies of Tahiliani, expressed the belief that the complaints were orchestrated to get rid of Tahiliani before the election or as School Committee member Jeanne Cristiano put it: “This was an orchestrated October surprise to disenfranchise voters one week and one day before an election.”
“The timing is unfortunate,” the school committee attorney said.
“Why did it take so long from September 27 after you received these serious allegations? Now the dog and pony show a week before the election,” Cristiano said emphatically.
“The person that runs this system has not been notified of these allegations. I feel we’re in North Korea. We are opening ourselves up to litigation by denying this person her god given human rights,” she added, referring to Tahiliani.
Mangan said the meeting on the matter was held Monday night to be as transparent as possible.
He was shouted down by the large crowd that came to watch Tahiliani be removed from her job.
The mayor said the charges are serious enough to warrant putting the superintendent on paid leave until an investigation is conducted.
“Ten employees for fear of retaliation didn’t go to the school department HR. I’m sure there’s a lot more than ten. They fear coming here and telling their story,” said the mayor, to the jeers of the crowd.
Tahiliani read a prepared statement questioning the veracity of the charges and of the kangaroo court she believed she faced Monday night.
“This entire process is highly questionable. I still don’t know what these complaints are about. They are created by Everett city hall. Any investigation of these claims will reveal I have been doing my job – removing employees for time theft, disappearing from their jobs during school days, bullying, and destruction of school property. I ask that the investigation be fair and impartial,” she added.
The meeting was quintessential Everett grade D bad political theater, according to city activist Jon Puopolo.
“There is a profound irony at play here…this entire process is as unjust as it is unfounded,” Tahiliani added.
The meeting ended after the vote to place Tahiliani on paid administrative leave. The vote was 6-4 — and she never had a chance of surviving the play to get rid of her.
The mayor left the meeting with an Everett Police Department escort.