Wednesday, January 6, 2016

DESE Commissioner: “No comment” On Southbridge School Committee Action

Mitchell Chester
Ken O'Brien

On December 28 the Southbridge School Committee held an emergency special meeting to discuss a letter from DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester. In his letter the Commissioner advised that the committee suspend its search for a permanent Superintendent pending the Board of Education’s decision on receivership for the district.

After emerging from executive session, the committee voted five to zero to continue its search.

The following day I contacted the Commissioner’s office to determine if he had any response to that action 

On Tuesday I received a response from Jacqueline Reis, the Media Relations Coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In that reply she stated, “The commissioner does not have a comment at this time.” 

This leaves it open to speculation at this point as to what actions might occur.

In the case of Holyoke, the Commissioner announced his recommendation at a Board meeting a month before the meeting that voted to adopt a Level 5 classification. In that case, a public hearing in Holyoke was held the day before the Board meeting that made the declaration.

The next scheduled Board meeting for the DESE is January 26. There is nothing however to prevent the calling of a special meeting prior to that date.

On balance all that we can do at this point is wait for further developments. Perhaps this will come from the Commissioner’s meeting with our local legislative delegation.

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