The agenda for this week’s School Committee meeting included a multicolored chart that outlined a subcommittee’s evaluation of School Superintendent Ligia Noriega-Murphy. The evaluation was based on Noriega-Murphy’s presentation of professional practice goals, student learning goals and district improvement goals which were required by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A second part of the evaluation involved four standards: instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community engagement and professional culture. The committee then assigned Noriega-Murphy a numerical rating in each of those categories.
As part of her presentation on professional practice, Noriega-Murphy said, “As the new Superintendent of the Malden Public Schools, I will begin the school year by holding listening sessions and meetings with numerous stakeholders to learn about the district and the City.” She also said she planned to review documents and data to fully understand the district in an unbiased manner. According to committee members, Noriega-Murphy had either met that goal or made significant progress toward meeting it.
She received equally high marks on her explanation of student learning goals. “My goal is to create systems, protocols and coherent processes to deliver high levels of learning for all students with a culturally and linguistically equitable instructional core,” she told Committee members, adding the intent to adopt a new literacy/ELA and math 6-8 curriculum, professional development, teacher paraprofessional leadership and mentorship programs.
Noriega-Murphy’s district improvement goals mirrored her student learning goals and stressed equity literacy and numeracy and professional development. Members of the evaluation subcommittee were split on their ratings for district improvement with one member voting to say she had exceeded that goal and others saying she had met or made progress toward achieving it.
School Committee Member Rob McCarthy, who chairs the Superintendent Evaluation Subcommittee, said that while he and fellow members Jennifer Spadafora and Sharyn Rose Zeiberg were working much was happening in the district. Malden teachers held a vote of no confidence in Noriega-Murphy because she tried to make changes that should have required union approval. Teachers staged a one-day strike over pay increases and a safe working environment. In addition to those problems, questions were raised about Noriega-Murphy’s academic credentials.
“There was obviously a back-and-forth with the teachers’ union,” said McCarthy, adding that events did not affect the committee’s evaluation.
“I think right now, at this point, the Superintendent Evaluation Subcommittee will have to meet again to go over all our data and information,” said McCarthy. “Then we’ll decide to vote it out favorably or negatively to the entire School Committee,” said McCarthy.
As for instructional leadership, School Committee Members agreed that the Superintendent was able to collect and measure scope of data when it comes to the school district. School Committee Members agree that there was support for educators across the entire district with helping them with licensure issues and making a pipeline for paraprofessionals.
Committee members ranked Noriega-Murphy mostly either proficient or exemplary in instructional leadership with the exception of evaluation, which several felt needs improvement.
In the other categories, Noriega-Murphy received a range of ranking with an overall rating of proficient. McCarthy said a lot of the information gathered showed Noriega-Murphy in a positive light, but there was some disagreement among committee members on whether the final rank should be proficient or needs improvement.