Parent group town hall discusses Boston Public Schools superintendent search

By Lincoln Son Currie
Boston University News Service

Union Capital Boston and SchoolFacts Boston hosted a parent town hall on Feb. 28 via Zoom to discuss the Boston Public Schools superintendent search.

The search for a new superintendent comes after current superintendent Brenda Cassellius’ planned resignation in June. This will be Boston’s second superintendent search and fourth superintendent in the past five years, according to Boston Public Schools. 

Cassellius came from Minnesota before her appointment as superintendent, and Tommy Chang–the last non-interim superintendent–came from California. At the town hall, Connie Forbes, of Dorchester, asked why the city had not hired from within. 

“I think the advantage is that if you’re from Massachusetts, or especially from Boston, you have a better understanding of what you’re facing,” Forbes said. “Especially the challenges of being a majority-minority school district.”

Forbes also said inside hires would have more experience with Boston politicians, school policies and perhaps even Boston teachers. Forbes added that outside hires would have to figure out the city’s school and political systems.

BPS Community Engagement Advisory Council member Robert Jenkins attended the event and was on one of the superintendent hiring committees three years ago when BPS picked Cassellius. He said Mayor Wu wanted the community involved in the superintendent selection process.

“The loudest voices that need to be heard are teachers, students and parents,” Jenkins said.

A Zoom poll of the 165 meeting participants showed 67 percent of attendants were aware BPS was looking for a new superintendent. Fifty-one percent felt they had been invited to give input on the search. Sixty-two percent wanted to be involved in the superintendent selection process.

SchoolFacts Boston Family Advisory Board member Vernée Wilkinson explained the superintendent selection committee would be a two or three-member committee coming from the Boston School Committee. Wilkinson also said Boston City Council member and Education Committee Chair Julia Mejia is likely to influence the process but will have no formal vote.

Union Capital Boston Director of Partnerships Shavonne Herrington said even charter school parents would be impacted by the decision. She said her child attends a charter school but takes a BPS bus to get there. 

“We are all affected with the choices that are made at the top of BPS,” Herrington said. “This is not the time to stay close-mouthed. This is the time to speak up.”

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