Updated: Fitzgerald Adds Name to Already-Contested School Race

Correction: The original story reported Fitzgerald lost her bid for reelection in 2009. The former school committeewoman, however, said she withdrew from the race following the death of her sister, but it was too late to have her name removed from the ballot. This version also includes additional comments from Fitzgerald.

This year’s already heavily contested Haverhill School Committee race is becoming even more interesting with the entry of a former two-term member.

Former School Committeewoman Kerry Fitzgerald, 3 Richmond St., obtained nomination papers Monday for another run. Fitzgerald served two, four-year terms until being defeated in 2009. She said in an email to WHAV her daughter, Molly, is also considering a run. Fitzgerald told WHAV she is not convinced school committee members understand their roles. She cited the recent flack over student rankings and weighting as an example.

“I’m not sure that Scott Wood understands, I’m not sure from reading what I read and from what he said that he really does understand the complexity of that issue.” She added the committee also doesn’t follow its own policies.

“They have what’s called a grievance process for parents and they don’t follow it, and when parents come to them with a problem, they just basically say I have no authority over this when in fact they do.”

Fitzgerald said she disagrees with giving pay raises to administrators, but not to teachers.

“I also have an issue with the fact that the superintendent got a huge raise at the same time they are saying to the teachers they don’t have enough money for them.” She added she would have voted against increasing the size of the administration.

Asked about rising special education costs, Fitzgerald said the school committee has few options.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot you can do about special education costs to be honest with you. You have kids, we’re living in a society where the autism rate—or the autism scale rate—has totally exploded.” She said, however, Medicaid should pay for some of these costs.

At least one new face will join the committee since two-term Committeewoman Susan D. Danehy said she is not running for re-election. Assuming candidates return completed nomination papers before next month’s deadline, this year’s race also includes incumbents Scott W. Wood Jr. and Shaun P. Toohey, unsuccessful 2013 candidate Gail M. Sullivan, former City Councilor Sven A. Amirian and newcomer Michael Shurman.

Fitzgerald, a former school committee president, opened KF Grants, her own non-profit grant writing business this year. She is also a grant writer for YWCA of Central Massachusetts and, previously, served as director of development and community relations for Girls Incorporated of Greater Haverhill.

Fitzgerald made headlines last fall when she filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission, alleging School Committeewoman Maura Ryan-Ciardiello created a deceptive Facebook page. “I believe there is no question but that this is meant to fool people into believing it is a (Haverhill Public Schools) site,” Fitzgerald said. She referred specifically to the Facebook page’s description, “We are Haverhill Public Schools and the pride of Merrimack Valley.”

While the Ethics Commission neither confirms nor denies an investigation, it does not appear any action was taken on the complaint.

2 thoughts on “Updated: Fitzgerald Adds Name to Already-Contested School Race

  1. Is this a joke?
    Now you’re daughter too Kerry? Yea, it sounds harsh, but give us a break will ya? The city is literally bankrupt and should be in state receivership and you’re encouraging a child to run for political office to fix it? That just goes to show how utterly out of touch with the realities of this city you are!! For you to even suggest that is insane parenting. Running for the school committee isn’t like being a high school student delegate. Any sane parent would suggest their child get real life experience that would provide a benefit to the people who may elect her if they were serious about this. But your thinking is that YOU have all the answers and so too must your child, right Kerry? That’s so typical of your experience while in office Kerry…that’s why you’re the most disliked elected official this city has seen in some time. YOU don’t even have the experience or expertise to know what the h3ll you’re doing, what makes you think a 20 year old would?

    For anyone reading this it may sound harsh that I’m picking on someone’s child, but I’m not. Her mother put her in the position for me, or anyone else may write the truth on here, and to even comment about it. Once ‘they’ make that decision they’re opening themselves up to public political commentary. Haverhill is in SERIOUS financial trouble and it’s being covered up by lies, temporary bookkeeping tricks and outright deception. It’s no place for ANYONE who doesn’t have the expertise, experience and b*lls to make the hard decisions that need to be made.