By Josh Resnek
The appointment of William Hart as acting superintendent of schools has immediately tamped down criticism of Superintendent Priya Tahiliani’s suspension with pay pending the outcome of an investigation into charges leveled against her by ten unnamed persons who apparently are employed by the school department.
Hart’s appointment at first blush appears to be a significant and positive move by the school committee, who has gone to great lengths to be rid of Tahilaiani, to blunt the criticism of its actions against her.
Hart is a very well known and highly respected Everett native who has spent his life on the periphery of power in this city as a councilor and as Chair of the Board of Assessors.
Hart has always remained close to events in the city where he grew up. His appointment to be the acting superintendent was met mostly with approval in the city’s political and educational circles and has taken the rough edge off of Tahiliani’s rather Draconian administrative leave – which in actuality – was a dismissal.
Investigation or not, it is a near guarantee Tahiliani never serves another day as superintendent here.
For Hart, the appointment as acting superintendent comes as a high point in a successful career where the administration of public education has been central to his trajectory.
On Hart’s Linked in profile he is described as a higher education professional.
The Merrimack College grad received a doctorate in Education in 2014.
He has been serving as the city’s Chairman of the Board of Assessors, and was formerly the Executive officer for the Massachusetts Community Colleges from 2009-2019.
Prior to that, Hart served as Vice-President of Bunker Hill Community College.
“He is a natural, well spoken leader with a strong ability to communicate complex details, in a sincere candor. Bill is able to easily capture the attention of colleagues, w/ his winning personality & tenured expertise, businessman John Long wrote, giving Hart an endorsement on Linked in.
Hart’s persona is that of a confident, upbeat, educator who knows what he is doing, who is able to maneuver mine fields of controversy and complexities in education, and to come out of that battle in triumph – a triumph for those he represents and for himself.
Hart is not a pushover. He will not be easily controlled by the administration, as he tends to not do as ordered unless the order is on merit and worthy of doing.
In other words, unless Hart undergoes a dramatic change of personality, he will play out his time as acting super- intendent forcefully and with dignity and with a great deal of charm and hard work – tending to be fair to nearly everyone who comes his way.
During a long life in politics and public service here, and during his time as a statewide educator, he has done favors for many, many people. He is known to extend himself for others in need, and his head is wrapped around Everett.
If Hart can succeed at acting superintendent, then he is instantly a candidate for permanent superintendent.
Hart is a classic insider who knows how to navigate difficult waters.
He is bright and assertive, acts much younger than his age, and represents a powerful new voice for the public school students of Everett, their teachers, their administrators and all the employees of the Everett School Department.
He takes over a department beleaguered by accusations of racism, discrimination and retaliation.
By taking on this new re- sponsibility, Hart by default becomes the second most powerful city official in Everett.
No one understands this better than Billy Hart.