The question of whether a city employee also may serve on the School Committee was put to rest at a special meeting of the City Council last Thursday.
The issue came to the forefront in the aftermath of the November city election when two city employees, Veterans Services Director Jeanne Cristiano and Legislative Aide to the Everett City Council Mike Mangan, were elected to the School Committee from Wards 3 and 4 respectively.
Mangan originally sought a ruling in January on a possible conflict of interest from the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission pertaining to whether as a city employee he could serve on the School Committee, even if he did not accept the $12,000 salary stipend for the School Committee position.
According to City Councilor Stephanie Smith and City Solicitor Colleen Mejia, the Ethics Commission in its ruling noted that the council cannot just exempt two School Committee members with the designation as “special municipal employees,” but must apply the designation to encompass the entire School Committee.
Designating the entire School Committee as special employees made Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martine “uncomfortable.”
Mejia again reiterated that the position has to be designated, which must include everyone on the School Committee.
Ward 3 Councilor Anthony DiPierro and Martins both noted that though the ambiguity of this area in the City Charter has to corrected, there is not enough time to amend the charter. DiPierro also noted that the voters had elected both candidates to office knowing about their city employment and he respected the voters’ decision to have them serve on the School Committee.
Mangan also testified before the council, saying that he wanted, “To do this public service without collecting a salary.”
The idea of collecting a salary for the School Committee post, in addition to being paid for a full-time city job, had seemed to be troublesome to some of the councillors, who noted the appearance of “double-dipping.”
However, both Managan and Cristiano publicly stated that they would serve on the School Committee without compensation, but if they could not forego the School Committee stipend, then they would accept the salary and donate it back to the schools in its entirety.
Ward 4 Councillor Jimmy Tri Le again received assurance from Mangan that he would not accept any school salary. However, Mejia said that the special municipal status could not have any strings attached to it, including not receiving compensation.
“Your word is your bond,” Le said to Mangan. “I believe you. But if you even take a cent, I will move to have your status revoked.“
Ward 6 Councilor Alfred Lattanzi added, “I have known Mr. Mangan for a long time and his word is his bond.”
DiPierro then said, “If we do not vote, these School Committee members cannot serve and this goes against the will of the people.”
The motion was changed to reflect that the special municipal employee status be designated for the entire School Committee. The motion was unanimously approved.