City sued for discrimination

Former acting EPS superintendent Gauthier claims age, race bias conspiracy prevented her from interviewing

By JOSH RESNEK

Former acting superintendent Janice Gauthier has filed suit in Middlesex Superior Court against the city and the school committee alleging she was overlooked deliberately and eliminated from the competition to ascend to the superintendent’s position because of her age, and because she is a Caucasian.

In the lawsuit, she alleges a conspiracy based on her age and her color – she was 70 when she resigned in disgust in 2019 after not being allowed to interview for the job now held by Superintendent Priya Tahiliani, and for not being allowed to resume employment in her former position, Director of Curriculum.

Gauthier is white.

The new superintendent is a woman of color. She is asking for judgments on a number of items in the lawsuit.

However, no one in a position of responsibility knows how much she is asking for, which is the chief question being asked around the city among those who are discussing the matter.

No one in a position of responsibility in Everett was willing to speak on the record about the lawsuit or its iterations.

Several who spoke to the Leader Herald on the condition of anonymity said that the mayor very likely put Gauthier up to the lawsuit and that the mayor released news of it privately, before Gauthier’s attorney had the chance to make it public.

No one in the mayor’s office would comment on the matter.

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Priya Tahiliani takes center stage

Everett is not an easy city to win over by acclimation – but the new Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani is doing just that, according to a variety of school department officials and employees interviewed for this piece.

“If you have a kid in the Everett public schools at this time it is a good thing, she’s in charge,” said a longtime school official. “She is not using plays from the old time playbook. She is making decisions. She is owning them. Most important to note, she isn’t complaining,” said the source.

Tahiliani announced last week she is cutting the budget by 5% just to be safe to start, and that it might, in a worst case scenario, have to be cut another 5% – 10%.

In years past during the past two decades, the school department almost annually would announce deep cuts being made- as if crying fire in a crowded theater, only to rescind the cuts and rehire back nearly everyone that was set to be let go before the new school year began.

No such tactic is being used by Tahiliani, who understands better than most the exigencies of the new normal brought on by the profound effects of the Coronavirus.

“She is trying to do layoffs strategically. It isn’t about who you are with her. It is about what you are doing,” said a source.

“She is sane and fair in negotiations. She is trying to make arrangements for the coming school year without knowing for certain what bumps there will be along the road,” said a member of the School Committee. “She is very smart. She understands how things work. She has a ton of integrity,” added the School Committee member.

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New assistant approved for new superintendent

By Josh Resnek

A request for an assistant to the superintendent from the new superintendent Priya Tahiliani was approved unanimously by the School Committee during Monday night’s meeting.

The job does not need to be advertised.

Tahiliani will be choosing her assistant without interference from the School Committee.

A salary for the new employee was not publicly discussed but will likely come up for discussion.

Whether or not the new assistant will receive a  contract is another matter, although it is likely the School Committee must interview Tahiliani’s choice and then vote to hire her and to create a contract.

This new hire slightly complicates Tahiliani’s official March 1 starting date.

First of all, acting superintendent Janice Gauthier has announced she is not leaving until school ends in June.

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Are two supers better than one?

By Josh Resnek

If all goes according to School Committee plans, Everett will have two superintendents serving the public school system at the same time when Priya Tahiliani takes over on March 1.

The plan, apparently, is for acting superintendent Janice Gauthier to remain in her position side by side with Tahiliani until school lets out late in June.

“Many people inside the school system are wondering how this is going to work,” said a source who wished to remain unnamed.

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The new superintendent attending mid-term festivities a good sign

Priya Tahiliani, the newly elected Superintendent of the Everett Public Schools was one of the main distinguished guests to attend the festivities Monday night at city hall.

Her appearance is very likely a sure sign of much bigger and better things to come from her administration of the public schools when it begins.

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