Superintendent Tahiliani’s Contract Is Not Extended

The Everett School Committee, in a controversial vote on Monday night, decided by a 6-4 margin not to extend Superintendent Priya Tahiliani’s contract to 2026 after more than 20 residents and several members of the School Committee spoke on the issue.

Superintendent Priya Tahiliani.

Former City Councilor Fred Capone seemed to echo the feelings of many in the audience saying that he supports the superintendent, while noting that the “current school system is the most diverse.”  Referring to an internal review of the superintendent two months ago in which many school committee members gave her a proficient rating, Capone said, “Her performance is more than proficient, and the extension of the contract is easy work” for the school board.

Everett resident Mary Fortin said, “She’s a keeper.”

Damian Allan, a resident and parent of children in the Everett public schools said, “I support Priya, she is doing good work.”

Another resident Wendy Post noted, “Politics has no place to get in the way here.”

After more than an hour, the public speaking part of the meeting was closed and several members of the School Committee gave their opinions.  

Jeanne Cristiano urged her colleagues to put students and family first. “The superintendent has been honest with me,” Cristiano said, adding, “I respect the team that Priya put together.” She concluded, “I can work with the superintendent under any circumstances, and I am more than happy to advocate and vote for the extension. She reminded her colleagues that “two months ago, we gave her a proficient rating.”

Several committee members took the time to blast the baseless rumors that have been circulating in the city on the social media about alleged jobs and appointments that would be given to members who voted against the extension of the contract.

One of the targets of the smear campaign was Cynthia Sarnie who said, “My vote is never bought or sold. I was never offered a job. The city is so divided, and we need to stop the hatred.”

Millie Cardello said on the extension of the contract, “I vote the way I see fit. I like and respect the superintendent, and I am elected by the people. I vote based on facts and this is about the students and teachers.” 

Tahiliani said that she still has a desire to lead the schools and is “more motivated to work on your behalf.”

Six members voted in opposition to extending Tahiliani’s contract to 2026. Those voting not to extend the contract included Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Cynthia Sarnie, Joseph LaMonica, Michael McLaughlin, Jason Marcus and Millie Cardello.

 The four members voting in favor of extending the contract were Jeanne Cristiano,  Mike Mangan, Marconi Almeida Barros and Samantha Lambert.  

 The idea of extending the contract was first brought up more than a year ago when some School Committee members thought that Tahiliani was not given a fair opportunity to lead the schools under normal conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They said that many of the programs that Tahiliani proposed in her interview for the position in late 2019 were sidelined due to the pandemic. Added fallout due to the pandemic, such as the drop in the MCAS scores as well as remote learning issues, prevented Tahiliani from accomplishing many of her educational objectives for the Everett Public Schools. She officially started her job as Superintendent in March 2020.

Mangan, chair of the Everett School Committee, said Tuesday, “I wish the vote would have gone in her favor. “Based on the things we asked the superintendent to do, in terms of school security, CTE development, the cleanliness of the schools, her work in addressing the social-emotional learning impact on students following the pandemic – and seeing and hearing the overwhelming support she received from students and parents – I wish the vote would have gone a different way, but unfortunately it didn’t. I respect everybody’s opinion and decision. But personally, I wish she would have gotten the contract extension.”

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