Despite a request from the Commissioner of the DESE to suspend its Superintendent search pending a decision on receivership for the district, the Southbridge School Committee decided to continue with that endeavor.
Following the roll call, (during which Dr. Page and Mr. Jovan were excused) the Chairman read agenda item number III. Thereafter he went to agenda item IV and the committee voted to go immediately into executive session. It was indicated that this was to consider the legality of any action related to agenda item III, the letter from DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester.
After approximately 40 minutes the committee, consisting of Mr. Lazo, Mr. Bishop, Ms. Congdon, Mr. Olivo and Ms. Peloquin returned to open session.
Ms. Congdon opened the discussion by expressing her anger and frustration with the letter from the Commissioner as well as the State officials in general. She indicated that she felt that it was an unwarranted action to request the School Committee to suspend its search. She stated her faith in the school system and the search committee. She stated that she was not opposed to a state takeover, but indicated that she felt that a cooperative venture was what is needed.
Mr. Bishop stated that he looked forward to fulfilling the committee’s responsibility by appointing a leader for the district.
Mr. Olivo expressed his interest in moving forward and felt that the search should continue. Ms. Peloquin stated that, based upon the legal advice that the committee had been given, she was in favor of moving ahead with the search.
Mr. Lazo indicated that DESE did not know the people of Southbridge and that he felt that the committee was moving forward. He stressed that the committee was doing its job and that the State had engaged in criticisms most appropriately directed at a Superintendent and not the committee.
He concluded by saying that, he too, felt that the committee should move forward with the search.
Town Manager San Angelo appeared to say that the town was here to support the School Committee and requested that the Commissioner’s letter be read into the record. Following that he expressed his concern that anyone hired by the Search Committee might have their position abrogated by a move into receivership.
Ms. Congdon indicated that this was possible and would be made clear to candidates.
Mr. San Angelo indicated that he felt that the State should be requested to indicate what their time frame for action was.
The meeting was adjourned with no vote and every indication that the Superintendent search committee would continue on its currently prescribed course.