Superintendent James F. Scully.
A planned conference between Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent James F. Scully and a group calling for his removal, has been cancelled.
Scully had agreed to meet Wednesday with the Haverhill Hispanic Coalition to “hear concerns and answer questions.” However, he said this morning, he backed out when he learned the group planned to advocate for fired District Supervisor of English Learner Education Graciela Trilla.
“I was informed by several members of the Hispanic community that the meeting scheduled for this Wednesday evening would be dominated by those advocating for a former employee,” Scully wrote today in a letter to parents. “On advice of legal counsel for the Haverhill Public Schools I have been instructed that I should not participate in discussion, which will primarily focus on personnel matters within the school department.”
The gathering, according to a flyer, was called “It’s Your Turn to Talk.” It came in the wake of Haverhill Hispanic Coalition’s recent call, as WHAV first reported last week, to not renew Scully’s contract, alleging various civil rights violations concerning English Language Learners (ELL).
“Many parents within our district feel unheard. This is your chance to respectfully voice your concerns for your child/children. Translation services will be provided,” a statement by the coalition read.
Email Suggests Trilla’s Involvement in Organizing Meeting
An email obtained by WHAV suggests Trilla asked for parents’ support and played a role in organizing the meeting.
“Parents have individual complaints but we need folks who can speak English well to field the more global issues enclosed. We have no doubt Scully will be unable to provide adequate answers to any of the issues since he knows very little about the ground zero details of the district,” an email attributed to Trilla reveals.
In another email obtained by WHAV, a former Haverhill school employee objected to being recruited to speak at the meeting.
In his letter to parents, Scully said, he, principals, a newly appointed bilingual parent liaison and newly appointed Director of Strategy and Accountability Darshan Thakkar will continue working with parents and answering questions about the ELL program. Scully noted Thakkar is multi-lingual and will “make sure all is in order for the variety of languages spoken in the Haverhill Public Schools.” He added, “Dr. Thakkar’s doctoral work was focused on the success of English Language Learners.”
“Given the fact that the original purpose of Wednesday evening’s meeting was to meet with parents regarding the needs of children, I will shortly be organizing meetings throughout the school district to meet with you in your neighborhood schools to review with you any matters that you may have regarding your child’s educational program,” Scully wrote
Complaints from Haverhill Hispanic Coalition center on the July 25 suspension and subsequent firing last Friday of Trilla. She told WHAV last week she was being fired for insubordination. Recently elected president of the Haverhill Public Schools Supervisory and Administrative union, she is awaiting an arbitration hearing and, according to Attorney Colin R. Confoey, “getting Dr. Trilla back to work as soon as possible.”
In a letter last week to Scully and all city elected officials, the coalition protested student overcrowding, transporting ELL students away from their neighborhood school, too few Spanish-speaking translators and failure to appoint Trilla to the post of assistant superintendent, among other concerns. The letter came just as school committee members debate whether to renew Scully’s contract. Both Mayor James J. Fiorentini, school committee chairman, and School Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. have since publicly backed Scully.
Trilla also told WHAV 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.