The School Committee approved Superintendent Priya Tahiliani’s evaluation, 9-0 (with Mayor Carlo DeMaria abstaining from voting), during Monday’s School Committee meeting at Everett High School.
During public comment, Lynn Street resident Nancy Cianchetta, who doesn’t support an extension of the superintendent’s contract beyond June of next year, said residents have always been unified, but she hasn’t felt that the city has been a community recently. “If our key issue is our students, will they be impacted by this political tension?” Cianchetta asked. “Recent events have made me very concerned and uncomfortable.”
She referenced a recent mandatory Vine Street Everett Public Schools staff meeting, in which attendees had to sign up for a time slot. However, it wasn’t made clear why. “Stress was definitely felt by other staff and students,” Cianchetta said. “Some staff members requested exit interviews because of pay issues – others said they didn’t feel safe here; then, they were denied exit interviews.”
What was also troubling was when high school students were offered three hours of community service for attending the last City Council meeting, and were provided talking points for the meeting. They were pulled from class to make signs for a walkout during finals last year, according to Cianchetta. She asked if that was political bias.
She said if students don’t pass the MCAS exams, they won’t graduate with a high school diploma, leading to a decrease in salary over the course of their career.
Student Representative Riley Avelar voiced her opinion on the comments made by Cianchetta. Avelar said the City Council meeting was shared on social media long before students knew that community service hours were offered. “I was never pulled out of class for anything related to the walkout,” Avelar said. “We saw something wrong and acted on it.”
Avelar asked why it took a walkout for what she called a “racist official” to step down.
Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani said the superintendent evaluation is public, unlike that of some other staff members.