Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani recently quelled speculation suggesting that she is planning to leave the Everett Public Schools to take a position under Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “That’s news to me, there’s nothing going on,” said Tahiliani prior to the December 6 School Committee meeting.
School Committee Chairman Frank Parker said he has not heard any mention of Tahiliani leaving the district. Yet, he said such a move would not be surprising, adding that it is the “intent of the incoming body to fire her.”
However, taking such action would be a risky move on the part of the new committee. During the December 6 meeting, the committee voted on changes to Tahiliani’s contract. Ward 4 School Committee Member Dana Murray said changing the language from “good cause” to “just cause” would benefit the committee in the event of a lawsuit. Because the proposed amendment was voted down in a 5-3 decision, Tahiliani would now have the upper hand if she was terminated and decided to seek legal recourse.
The committee voted 6-2 to remove the following language from the contract: “Should the Superintendent choose to terminate the contract without good cause and leave the employment of the Everett Public Schools to work as a Superintendent in another Massachusetts school district prior to its expiration date, she shall compensate the Committee an amount equal to 10% of her annual salary.”
In addition, if Tahiliani were to leave, Murray said, it would be extremely challenging to find a suitable successor. “Right now, the field of superintendents is very sparse,” she said during the December 6 meeting. “Many superintendents are quitting and they’re quitting in droves. The job is very difficult.”
In a follow-up interview, School Committee Vice-Chairman Thomas Abruzzese said he is unaware of any departure plans. “She didn’t mention any of that to me,” he said of Tahiliani.
However, he also agreed with Parker regarding potential action by the new committee that could jeopardize her employment. “If I were her, I’d be exploring my options,” said Abruzzese.
School Committee Member-at-Large Millie Cardello said she has heard nothing more than rumors. “I haven’t heard any facts on that,” she said.
Tahiliani’s contract took effect on March 1, 2020. At the time, it included an annual base salary of $205,000 as well as $1,500 for a computer to use at home, $75 per month for a cell phone and $3,000 per year for travel expenses. The contract also included an annual annuity payment of $3,000 from the committee as well as 15 sick days per year, 20 vacation days and four personal days.
Her contract is not set to expire until February 28, 2024. However, the committee could vote, during its December 20 meeting, to extend the contract to June 30, 2025.