Under state law, the Superintendent of Schools and not the elected School Committee is in charge of hiring principals. The relevant portion of G. L. c. 71, Section 59 (1988 ed.), provides that the superintendent “shall recommend to the [school] committee teachers, textbooks, and courses of study.”
The appointment of a School Committee member to the screening committee gives the appearance that at least one school committee member is recommending to the Superintendent a hiring not allowed under Ed Reform.
The Superintendent of Schools last night stated present School Committee member Andy Descoteaux was going to be part of the selection committee to hire a new Head of School at Lowell High.
Under Ed Reform it is very clear that the Committee has very limited hiring ability.
A. Hiring authority for particular positions
1. Superintendent, assistant/associate superintendents, school business administrator, administrator of special education, school physicians and registered nurses, legal counsel, supervisors of attendance
State law: The school committee is responsible for appointing personnel to the following positions:
Superintendent: The school committee has the power to select and terminate the superintendent, and to establish his or her compensation. (G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 37)
Assistant or associate superintendents: On the recommendation of the superintendent, the committee may establish the positions of and appoint assistant or associate superintendents, who shall report to the superintendent. The superintendent recommends to the school committee candidates for appointment to the position of assistant or associate superintendent. The committee shall approve or disapprove the appointment, but shall not unreasonably withhold its approval. If the superintendent requests, the committee shall explain its disapproval of a recommended candidate. The committee sets the compensation of the superintendent and the assistant or associate superintendents. (G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 59)
School business administrator; administrator of special education; school physicians and registered nurses; supervisors of attendance; legal counsel:The Education Reform Act did not change several pre-existing statutes that refer to the school committee appointing certain personnel. G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 41 states that “a school committee may award a contract to … a school business administrator for a period not exceeding six years… .” G.L. c. 71B, [[section]] 3A states that “a school committee … shall appoint a person to be its administrator of special education.” G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 53 says, “The school committee shall appoint one or more school physicians and registered nurses… .” G.L. c. 76, [[section]] 19 says, “Every school committee shall appoint, make regulations governing and fix the compensation of one or more supervisors of attendance.”
The Mass Board of Education advises that School Committee members NOT be part of screening committees because it gives individual members a voice in hiring a Principal which isn’t allowed under Ed Reform.
It calls into question if the screening committee is really independent of the school committee.
It also presents the appearance that the Superintendent is playing favorites, appointing one Committee member over the others and giving that member a voice in the hiring process in violation of the Education Reform Act.
While it is legally allowed it does seem to blur the line between the School Committee and Superintendent. Under Ed Reform the Superintendent works for the School Committee as a whole. By allowing the Superintendent to select HIS choice of Committee members to serve on his committee it gives the appearance they work for him.
The Sun story today says the Superintendent appeared concerned that the committee was trying to assert itself in a hiring decision that is by law the superintendent’s. According to the Sun, the Superintendent stated “.. I know that, from the law, this does not require any school committee or community approval.”
Based on the Ed Reform Law , it is my opinion that School Committee members should not be hand picked by the Superintendent of Schools to serve on the screening committee to hire a Principal and if he wanted to have a School Committee member on that committee, he should request the Mayor poll the Committee to see who would want to serve then the Mayor who assigns committee members to sub-committees and boards be the appointing authority NOT the Superintendent of Schools.
On the one hand the Superintendent seemed concerned that the school committee was trying to insert itself, while on the other hand, he opened the door by hand picking his choice out of his seven bosses, that he wanted to serve on that screening committee. He can’t have it both ways and School Committee members in my view should not have any direct role in the hiring of a school Principal.
A recent Previous Headmaster Search Committee didn’t include a School Committee member – The committee is comprised of five parent representatives: Michelle Hatem Meehan, Anita Downs, Anna Martinez, George Peterson and Steve Gendron. Six LHS staff members: Paul Georges, Susan Smith, Bill Donaghey, Betty Santagati, Alan Sayer and Michelle Durand. Two students: Thi An Tran and Alyson Hall. Four community-at-large members: Donald Pierson, vice provost for graduate education at UMass Lowell; Maria Cunha, director of drop-out prevention program and Out of School Youth Development Center; James Cook, Lowell Plan executive director; and Jeanne L. Osborn, president and CEO of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce.