School Committee Could Name SPED Director Today

Maura Ryan-Ciardiello is the current president of the Haverhill School Committee.

Haverhill School Committee members could choose a permanent special education director as early as this afternoon when three finalists for the position appear for interviews.

The search for a new special education director for Haverhill public schools has been narrowed to three candidates—the existing interim director, a retired superintendent of schools and a special education advocate. Sources, however, told WHAV there may be an effort by some members to delay seating anyone in the job that has been filled on a temporary basis for about a year.

“That would be an injustice since this has already been in process for four months. We’re trying to prepare to get our schools ready for September,” responded Superintendent James F. Scully when asked by WHAV this morning.

The entire school committee is set to interview Richard D. D’Agostino, of Smithfield, R.I.; Melissa J. Deyo-Silvia, of Somerset; and Kyle A. Riley, of Fall River, at 4 p.m., this afternoon, at Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers.

D’Agostino recently retired as superintendent of the Warwick, R.I., school district, where he served from September, 2012, to June, 2015. In his resume, he wrote, “Reached the maximum years for retirement but still very much young at heart.” He previously served as director of special services, an elementary school principal, director of the alternative school, special educator and other positions all within the Warwick School District dating back to 1980. He received his doctorate from Boston University and two master’s and a bachelor’s from Providence College, Providence, R.I.

Deyo-Silvia, who is bilingual, has served as a special education advocate for Haller Advocacy since the beginning of the year. Haller Advocacy is a private organization working with parents to support severely disabled students. She served as special education director for Somerset Public Schools/Somerset Berkley Regional Schools from October, 2014, until last January. She was director of Pupil Personnel Services at Burrillville Public Schools, Harrisville, R.I., from July, 2012, to October, 2014, and previously special education administrator at Brookline High School from July 2009 to July, 2012, and building level special education director at Boston Public Schools from July, 2006, to July, 2009. She is a doctoral candidate at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I.; received her master’s from Simmons College, Providence, R.I.; and bachelor’s from State University of New York at Albany.

Riley has served as interim director of special education in Haverhill since last September and previously held the same position at Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District from February, 2012, to August, 2015. He was also administrator/principal of 21st Century Learning at New Bedford Public Schools from August, 2011, to January, 2012, and a principal, assistant principal and special education teacher in the same school district dating back to September, 2005. He received his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University, Miami, Fla.; master’s from Cambridge College, Cambridge, Mass.; and bachelor’s from University of Massachusetts—Dartmouth. He obtained another bachelor’s from Suffolk University, Boston.

The list of candidates was narrowed down by a school committee subcommittee comprised of School Committee Members Scott W. Wood Jr., Shaun P. Toohey and Gail M. Sullivan. Before Riley’s interim appointment, the post of special education director was held bv Jean Kelly for several months, Theresa Senio for two years and Maurice Covino, dating back to the 1990s.

Under the state’s Education Reform law, the superintendent makes most appointments. However, school committees retain authority over hiring the superintendent, assistant/associate superintendents, school business administrator, administrator of special education, school physicians and registered nurses, legal counsel and supervisors of attendance. The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has recommended superintendents also be given the authority to appoint school business administrator, administrator of special education, school physicians and nurses and supervisors of attendance. The state legislature has not acted on this request.