Scully Fires Trilla as Supervisor of English Learner Education

Claudia Hoyos, presented parents’ concerns during the last school committee meeting. (Photograph by Alberto M. Surís, courtesy of Rumbo News.)

Dr. Graciela Trilla, district supervisor of English Learner Education, was fired Friday by Haverhill School Superintendent James F. Scully.

Trilla and attorney Colin R. Confoey, representing Haverhill Public Schools Supervisory and Administrative union, met with Scully and City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. for 40 to 45 minutes, Friday morning. At about 3 p.m., Trilla was notified by email she had been terminated, Confoey told WHAV.

“We’re very disappointed, but this outcome was predictable given how this matter has been handled by the superintendent since July 25. We look forward to the arbitration hearing and getting Dr. Trilla back to work as soon as possible,” the attorney said. He explained the union contract with the school department calls for an independent arbitrator to hear both sides of the matter and issue a binding ruling. Trilla was recently elected president of the union, but had been on administrative leave since a confrontation with Scully July 25, according to documents obtained by WHAV.

Confoey said an appeal to the courts is “very rare.” However, the union’s July 28 letter, threatened to file a “prohibited practice charge” against the school district for “retaliation” against Trilla for becoming head of the union, lawsuit for violation of “whistleblower” laws and discrimination charge with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Scully told WHAV, “I can confirm that Ms. Trilla is no longer employed by the HPS. However, beyond that, I am unable to comment on a personnel matter. On the other hand, Ms. Trilla is free to provide you with any of the relevant letters from me regarding this matter.”

“My job is to look out for the best interests of all of the children of Haverhill on a daily basis. Any actions I take are with that single goal in mind,” Scully added.

While the city would not speak to the specifics behind the administrative leave or termination, Trilla told WHAV last week she is being fired for insubordination. She said she challenged the administration’s plans to move English Language Learners (ELL) from Tilton to the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School. While she agreed Tilton overcrowding required a solution, she proposed moving general education students to Silver Hill rather than ELL students. Under state law, she explained, ELL students must be segregated from charter school populations, but this requirement does not apply to other students.

Trilla is the wife of Hunking School Building Committee member and former city Purchasing Agent Jonathan Goldfield.

Contract Discussions Begin with Scully

Last week, Haverhill Hispanic Coalition called on elected officials not to renew Scully’s contract, which expires at the end of the school year.

“We are formally imploring that Mr. Scully’s contract not be renewed. It is time that Mr. Scully move along and release the district into the hands of capable leadership who has the interest of all students in mind.”

Both Mayor James J. Fiorentini, school committee chairman, and School Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. have since publicly backed Scully.

“I have complete, total and unwavering confidence in the superintendent’s ability to lead the public schools,” Wood told WHAV. The first step in contract negotiations with Scully was a meeting with the superintendent two weeks ago, he said. Fiorentini and School Committee President and Vice President Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello and Gail M. Sullivan met with Scully. While not a member of the subcommittee, Wood said he attended the meeting as an observer.

Parents Express Concern Over Student Busing, Other Issues

In a separate letter to Scully, parents said they feared overcrowding following the movement of 21 second grade ELL Tilton School students to an ELL classroom at Golden Hill School. They also raised concerns about busing those students away from their neighborhood school—an extra 40 minutes of travel time daily—and the added costs of the buses to the city.

A survey of parents two days before school opened found none of the parents of the Tilton students were aware of the busing plan, according to the coalition. Further, the letter asserted, school registration, transportation, special education and nursing departments do not have any Spanish-speaking representatives.

During a recent school committee meeting, where parents offered more than 250 petition signatures in support of Trilla, Scully rebutted the claims.

“We still have the translator services. We added another translator this year. Our translation services, or phys ed services, our transportation services, we have bilingual people handling in all the areas. For example, at the Consentino School we have a bilingual secretary and we just advertised again for more. We’re looking for people to speak four different languages,” Scully said.

10 thoughts on “Scully Fires Trilla as Supervisor of English Learner Education

  1. An apples an appe, if your a bottom apple you get the services, if your at he top of the apple tree you get the services but if your in the middle you had better hang onto the branches…
    The Dr was for one group only, very obvious. Be part of the solution not the problem

    • They outperform because they are hard workers and the teachers are masters at providing rigorous instruction and teaching these kids to reach for the stars when even ignorant peons such as yourself try to push them down. Teachers have 40 kids in their classes, so no administrators or anyone hold teachers accountable for their lack of instruction they justify teacher laziness by blaming their workload. Dr. Trilla always held her staff accountable hence the enormous gains in that subgroup

      • What are these kids??
        Name calling and insinuation are more of what an ignorant person would do.
        Nobody is pushing anybody down Suuuuuuz, if ANY student works at something they most definitely should continue and achieve their goals. Learning a second language is difficult but not impossible and shouldn’t be an excuse for one not succeeding.
        Last I watched on the school conifer it went into executive session and therefor was “private”, however if you know something we don’t please inform us.

  2. It’s time for Scully to move on! DO NOT RENEW HIS CONTACT. He is an incompetent leader who doesn’t listen to the parents.
    Let’s get someone more competent like former principal Mr. Rossi who is more than capable of turning this poor school system into something to brag about.

  3. Very interesting development. Of course we may never find out the truth of why Trilla has been fired. Then again political vendettas are commonplace around Haverhill. You never know who you may have ticked off with a thin skin and an ego to match. This is going to get even more interesting as the battle lines have been drawn and the whispers of racism and favoritism float around the city.