By Tara Vocino
A heated debate revolved around beginning the bidding for a superintendent search process and Everett’s first LGBTQ+ Resource Center during Tuesday’s School Committee meeting at Everett High School.
Ward 4 School Committee Chairman Michael Mangan said he thought that Paula Sterite is a person who cares about students’ well-being until he received an email from her the following day after the committee took the vote two weeks ago. Sterite said she found that derogatory.
School Committee member At-Large Samantha Lambert asked if it was sent to his public or private email. It was sent to his city email, stated Mangan.
He didn’t have any problem with Sterite reaching out and voicing her opinion. However, the part of the email that Mangan has issue with is: “I know you have relatives using Pope John — don’t worry that will not go unnoticed — nor will any grants given out!,” Sterite wrote to Mangan.
Mangan’s daughter, Kay, who identifies as queer, opened up Everett LGBTQ+ Youth Space and Resource Center (ELYSARC) approximately three years ago, inside the former Pope John High School building.
“Because I voted a certain way, she can take issue with me, but to threaten my children is unacceptable,” Mangan said. “It’s a travesty to go after someone’s family member.”
Sterite said in a separate interview that she never mentioned his daughter in the email, so she asked why he is bringing it up now.
“At this point, even your vote for [Superintendent] Priya is questionable to me and others as a safe vote – knowing it would fail,” Sterite wrote to Mangan.
Sterite doesn’t think any city worker should hold elected positions since she believes it’s a conflict of interest. Mangan serves as the legislative aide to the city council. She also asked why Pope John is being used by everyone but by the School Department.
Mangan said that Kay felt that LGBTQ+ rights and protections weren’t on the city’s radar. Sterite asked to clarify what she said in the email, but Mangan directed that part to public comment.
“This is a safe space, where LGBTQ+ people can go daily,” Mangan said in a separate interview. “They started yelling and getting out of order — I wasn’t backing down.”
He asked to refer this to the mayor, governor, School Committee, superintendent and state delegation to ensure that no ELYSARC funding was cut. School Committee At Large member Cynthia Sarnie made a motion, seconded by Ward 1 School Committee member Millie Cardello.
Lambert abstained from the vote since she didn’t have a resolution in front of her. She was quick to note she supports the LGBTQ+ community, but she doesn’t feel comfortable taking a vote without the wording in front of her. The motion failed, since they didn’t have a quorum.
Cardello made a motion to put the resolution on the table for the next meeting. Sarnie seconded her motion.