EEC Troubled by ‘Internal Candidate’ Push from City Officials, Some on School Committee

For the second meeting in a row, outgoing School Committeeman   Lester MacLaughlin put an item on the agenda to re-convene the Superintendent Search Committee in order to consider internal, local candidates.

On Monday night, the item didn’t get a second, and so it wasn’t moved to a vote – that coming after the matter was narrowly defeated last month in a vote of 4-3.

It has been one piece of an ongoing side story to the Superintendent Search – which will culminate on Thursday evening, Dec. 19.

“This time, it was a more unified situation when Lester put that forward,” said Chair Tom Abruzzese, who had been accused by MacLaughlin of “staining” the process at a recent meeting. “What it signals is that the School Committee wants to move on. I only see that as a good sign because in the end, whomever gets the position, you want them to feel like they’re wanted, and you want there to be a unanimous vote for the new person.”

That rally for the internal candidates, which has included Mayor Carlo DeMaria and several other elected officials, has been frustrating for the Everett Education Coalition (EEC) – a group that formed in early 2018 to give more of a voice to parents, teachers and those not familiar with the educational system.

Member Jessica Gold Boots, a teacher in Malden who lives in Everett, said it the call for internal candidates by MacLaughlin and others is insulting to all the time spent by the Search Committee.

“I think members of the EEC, including myself, are very concerned that people on the Search Committee had given hours and hours and hours of volunteer time, energy and effort – and were diligently appointed to represent all walks of life,” she said. “There were parents, teachers, a representative from La Communidad, the police chief. When you’re saying they didn’t do it right, not only are you disrespecting them, but also you’re disrespecting the process and reason why the School Committee voted to bring in the search firm (Massachusetts Association of School Committees).

“You can’t create a Search Committee and then say it’s not good because it’s not the people I wanted,” she continued. “I would say the same thing even if every single candidate named was an internal candidate. I would say these are 15 people from 15 different walks of life on the Search Committee…and they went through the resumes and did the interviews and know something I don’t.”

Member Josh Steinberg said he is happy with the process, and believes it has been a win for Everett despite there being no internal candidates.

“I think the search has been great for the City,” he said. “All of it has been done in public. It’s great to be able to see more openness at the School Committee this year. This whole process has been accessible to the public and it’s been televised…

“I think this has all been done in good faith and in looking to move forward,” he continued. “I wouldn’t want to see that work go away.”

Boots said the EEC and its membership supports the work that has been done by the Search Committee and the School Committee on the traditional search.

“Their voice vote for a superintendent is the way it’s supposed to work,” she said. “There were finalists and public interviews…That is all above board. We want people to feel more involved in the process from start to finish. Anytime you have an opaque government process, it’s not good for the residents…People keep inserting themselves into this process that weren’t involved. I have never seen people who were not involved in the process get involved and tell a Search Committee they did it all wrong because, if it were right, it would be people from Everett…We really feel like Tom (Abruzzese) really tried to make the process as unimpeachable as possible and did a good job with it.”

Said Steinberg, “I’m really proud of the work everybody has been doing, including the Search Committee, the School Committee, the Coalition and everyone coming together so Everett can move forward. I think we’ve accomplished a lot in the year.”

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