Just as School Committee officials and new Supt. Priya Tahiliani thought that former Interim Supt. Janice Gauthier would stay on as a senior advisor – Gauthier pulled the rug out from that plan on Monday with a sudden and striking resignation.
“I regret having to take this posture, but I cannot, in good conscience, continue further in serving the needs of the Institution I have served faithfully for 49 years, given the predicament I have been forced to contend with,” read her letter of resignation.
“Please understand that I feel that I have been constructively eliminated from my former post as Curriculum Director, that I have been denied equal consideration for the position of Superintendent of Schools after having faithfully served in that post for a period now in excess of 15 months, and it is my feeling that I have been discriminated against and denied an equal opportunity to continue, notwithstanding my many years of good service.”
It was signed with the parting words, “Regretfully.”
School Committee Chair Tom Abruzzese said the Committee and the new leadership was surprised when they received the resignation letter, a letter that detailed many frustrations and aggravations felt by Gauthier.
Abruzzese said he had been in constant discussion with Gauthier and Tahiliani about the new roles and clarifying everything before Tahiliani started on Monday, March 2.
“It was a total surprise,” he said. “I had met with the new superintendent and the interim superintendent last week to go over what roles everyone would have so there was no confusion…I wanted to make sure everyone knew who was what. There were rumors going around that we would have co-superintendents.”
He said there had been a meeting on Friday between Gauthier, himself and Tahiliani that ended with Gauthier accepting a new role, he said.
“Mrs. Gauthier’s contract indicates she was to go back as Curriculum Director when any new superintendent started work, but she had hired someone else to do that job already,” said Abruzzese. “Supt. Tahiliani offered her the opportunity to stay on as senior advisor to the superintendent. As of Friday, she accepted that. I put that in the email I sent out on Saturday to everyone and then on Monday we received her letter of resignation. Those are the facts from my perspective.”
He said he thought the roles were very clear on Friday, and was shocked – as were his colleagues – to hear the news on Monday.
“It was pretty clear and there was no misunderstanding on my part,” he said. “Was I shocked? Yes, but based on the events of the last 14 months, nothing should shock me.”
Gauthier wasn’t immediately available, but her attorney, David Fulmer of Wakefield, did speak to the Independent about his client.
“It’s certainly our position Mrs. Gauthier has been treated totally unprofessionally by the City of Everett, the School Committee and the new superintendent – a new superintendent who released a statement that wasn’t authorized to be released,” he said. “I think there’s some pretty crazy things going on down there, I guess. Mrs. Gauthier was not given the latitude of other applicants (for superintendent). She is abundantly qualified. My personal opinion is being stymied and being placed in the same light as the former superintendent – who had problems – and Mrs. Gauthier is being discriminated against both in terms of her age and her posture of the 49 years of service she gave to Everett.”
Abruzzese said Gauthier took a personal day on Monday, and did not attend the School Committee meeting – where the resignation was discussed publicly to the surprise of many. Gauthier’s resignation indicated she will use 12 days of vacation through March 18, and resign on March 19. So, effectively, she will not return to the Everett Public Schools.
Abruzzese and the School Committee had said previously they believed she would retire at the end of the school year, on June 30, but she had never confirmed that. It was hoped she would stay on and serve as a mentor to guide Tahiliani in her first few months.
Gauthier had taken over as interim superintendent in January 2018 following the abrupt resignation of former Supt. Fred Foresteire due to allegations of misconduct reported to the School Committee and the Everett Police. Since that time, he has been charged with several felony counts of misconduct and that case is pending in Malden District Court.
“She stepped into an impossible situation and handled it with class and dignity,” said Abruzzese. “I hope she enjoys her retirement after a tremendous career in the Everett Public Schools.”