No Superintendent Selected, Non-Decision Sparks Anger
Attleboro School Committee Vice Chair Brenda Furtado says she is disgusted a decision was not made.
Thursday night's meeting of the Attleboro School Committee concluded without the selection of a superintendent to take over the district in July, and several people are not happy about this.
Following more than two hours of executive session discussion behind closed doors, School Committee Chair Mike Tyler announced "there was no consensus on either finalist for the position of superintendent of the schools." He called for another meeting to take place no sooner than next Thursday, at which time there could be further deliberations on whether to hire Anthony Azar or Kenneth Sheehan to replace outgoing Superintendent Pia Durkin.
"Consensus," which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as "general agreement, unanimity" is not required to hire a superintendent. The support of a simple majority is enough backing to make an appointment. But Committee member David Murphy said, "Given the significance of what we're discussing, I truly think that a consensus finding of an individual to lead the school system would be in the best interest of the students, and not a razor-thin majority."
Not everybody agreed with Murphy's analysis. Committee members Ken Parent and Barbara Craw said a unanimous decision was not necessary, and Parent added it was likely not possible. Parent said he was "disheartened" a decision was not made Thursday.
School Committee Vice Chair Brenda Furtado said, "I'm extremely upset that we did not come out to select a new superintendent for the Attleboro Public Schools. I did feel there was a viable candidate ... It's disappointing, and actually I'm extremely disgusted."
Parent and Craw also said they believed there was a "viable candidate," although they did not specify which one. Other committee members did not say how they were leaning. Furtado and Craw apologized to "the community" and the superintendent search committee members, two of whom were in the audience, about no decision being made.
Prior to going into executive session, the committee's attorney said members could only discuss "possible terms and conditions of an employment contract" and not "[which finalist] is better than the other" due to the state's open meeting law. Tyler told the media afterward the discussion was limited to the parameters set by the attorney, and the committee "could not reach a consensus on the viability of offering a contract to either finalist."
Following the meeting, search committee member Laura Dolan could be seen angrily speaking to Murphy. She declined to comment to the media.
The nine-member search committee had selected the two finalists from among 25 applicants. Earlier this month, they said the decision was unanimous and both finalists would be a good choice for Attleboro. Furtado and Craw said after the meeting Thursday that one of the search committee members had sent out emails recently stating she changed her mind and no longer supported either finalist. Attleboro Patch will make a public records request to obtain these emails.
Whether a decision to make an appointment will be made next week or at any time is not certain. Sources say a decision could be made not to appoint either man and instead pick an interim superintendent to run the district for the 2013-14 school year.