The School Committee voted 6-4 to deny extending the superintendent’s contract during their meeting on Monday night at Everett High School. School Committee members Michael McLaughlin, Millie Cardello, Jason Marcus, Joseph LaMonica, Cynthia Sarnie and Mayor Carlo DeMaria voted against extending her contract while Jeanne Cristiano, Samantha Lambert, Michael Mangan, and Marcony Almeida Barros voted in favor to extend Tahiliani’s contract past Feb. 28, 2024. It would have been extended until June 30, 2026.
Ward 2 School Committee Member Jason Marcus said that whichever vote he took it was from the heart and it wasn’t influenced by others. He didn’t comment further.
Ward 3 School Committee Member Jeanne Cristiano said the superintendent has been gracious with her time and firm in her convictions while respecting that trait in others.
Ward 1 School Committee Member Millie Cardello said she likes Tahiliani very much; however, some teachers are concerned. “I want to please the majority of people, including teachers and students,” Cardello said. “Teachers are upset, and it’s never been this way.”
Ward 5 School Committee Member Marcony Almeida Barros said he received emails about how she has touched the high needs of the community. “We finally have an approachable superintendent who listens to the needs of the community to better serve them,” Barros read. “It’d be a huge loss to the community to lose her.”
School Committee Member At-Large Cynthia Sarnie said she is concerned about the safety and cleanliness of the schools. “People have bumped into me at schools,” Sarnie said. “A lot are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation.”
Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani said she believes an extension of her contract will allow them to continue to their goals. “I promise to grow as a leader with your support and guidance,” Tahiliani said. “When I think about our district, I see endless opportunities, not an ending.”
Tahiliani said she felt fortunate to be a part of this community and she thanked everyone for this opportunity.
Ward 4 School Committee Member/Chairperson Michael Mangan said that at first he was a bit skeptical, but over the last 15 months, he said, Tahiliani has improved cleanliness and security. “She is the best person to lead us in the future, based on what I see, from cleanliness, security to CTE development,” Mangan said. “She’s willing to admit that it’s still a work in progress.”
Mangan said he has heard both sides, including some who offered displeasure with valid points.
During public comment, approximately 20 people spoke in favor of extending her contract; however, Nancy Cianchetta, who is a parent and teacher, spoke against extending it. “We need someone who will lead us out of the bottom of the state rankings, not further into it,” Cianchetta said. “Where other cities have rebounded, we have not.”
Sophomore Class President Emilia-Maria Babcock said Tahiliani doesn’t do work for herself, but for students. “She cares about us,” Babcock said. “She’s present at every school event.”
A statement released on Wednesday by Mayor Carlo DeMaria with respect to the vote: “I make decisions about school related issues based solely on what I think will benefit students and their families. When Everett selected a new Superintendent in 2019, the city needed someone who could bring positive change and create a new culture of trust and collaboration that was free from fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years individuals have shared with me examples that show that these goals have not been realized because we still have a culture in the district where collaboration and different views are not embraced completely. I hope they now feel free to come forward and share their experiences more broadly without fear of intimidation or retaliation. My individual vote at last night’s school committee meeting reflects my commitment to ensuring that all of our students and their families, teachers and staff deserve to be fully represented and have a positive experience in the district.”