Officials Will Name School Committee Member Feb. 2

Officials take their seats during a rare joint meeting of the mayor, city council and school committee Tuesday night.

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti was one opposed to naming Shaun P. Toohey to the vacant school seat.

The public will have to wait until at least Tuesday, Feb. 2, to find out who will be named to fill a vacancy on the Haverhill School Committee.

During a special meeting Tuesday night, Mayor James J. Fiorentini, all nine members of the city council and the five serving school committee members debated internal procedures, invited candidates to submit an optional resume and decided only an elected city official may nominate a finalist. In the background, as suggested by a number of officials, was the issue of whether the seat should go to Shaun P. Toohey, the next highest vote-getter in the most recent election; Raymond Sierpina, the next eligible finisher in the 2013 election; or be opened to the public. School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti said officials are not bound by the past.

“It’s a fiction of tradition,” Magliocchetti said, referring to an analysis by City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas showing past vacancies had been filled three out of four times since 1967 by naming the next highest finisher in the “most recent” election. When Magliocchetti suggested several elected officials should not participate because of conflicts of interests, Fiorentini accused him of favoring an unidentified candidate.

Reacting to the exchange, both School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr. and member Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello said they have no conflicts of interests in the matter. Wood said he is neither an immediate family member of Toohey nor Toohey’s boss or employee. Likewise, Ryan-Ciardiello said the state Ethics Commission advised her she has no conflict even though Toohey is her brother-in-law.

Magliocchetti and school committee newcomers Gail M. Sullivan and Sven A. Amirian gathered together in the hallway after the meeting and agreed following past precedents might be undesirable. Sullivan said both inside and outside the meeting, school committee participants “must act in the best interests of children.”

Former School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey.

Former School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey was the next highest vote-getter in the most recent election.

The 15 officials might have been able to suspend the rules and immediately fill the empty seat, but the focus remained on debating three of 13 rules in a draft set prepared by Fiorentini. Following the hour-long meeting, the mayor speculated there would not have been support by a two-thirds majority to skip the debate and proceed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of now-City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua. Only Fiorentini and Councilors Michael S. McGonagle, William J. Macek and Thomas J. Sullivan have openly endorsed selecting Toohey.

The idea of having voters decide during a special election was ruled out by the state even though it had been done to fill a school committee vacancy in 1973, reported City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas. She said the 1973 election might have been conducted in “error.”

As a result of the vote, any Haverhill citizen age 18 or older may submit an optional resume by Thursday, Jan. 28, to be considered a candidate.

4 thoughts on “Officials Will Name School Committee Member Feb. 2

  1. It is amazing that even our local pols are not considering the interest of their constituents; they consider their committees to be their own little PLAYPEN. No conflict of interest the State Ethics Commission says? Rubbish….. and I say, SHOW US the Ethics Commission findings! It is doubtful that either of these people would have been elected if they were not connected to the Ryan clan.

  2. I think the public should be able to see the written opinion of the State Ethics Commission that indicates there is no conflict of interest for Ryan-Ciardiello. On the surface it appears to be a conflict.

  3. Look how can it NOT be conflict of interest for the sister-in-law of Toohey to be on the committee to appoint the new school committee member. Ryan-Ciardiello would do well to recuse herself immediately. What is she thinking?

  4. “Ryan-Ciardiello said the state Ethics Commission advised her she has no conflict even though Toohey is her brother-in-law.” –

    If The State Ethics Commission said it’s ok, then clearly it must be ok.

    Interesting how some pols are all for “tradition” in some instances but not others.

    “any Haverhill citizen age 18 or older” –

    Maybe put a new, politically inexperienced graduate in place who is a little more in touch than old(er) career politicians?