Scully Cancels Parents Meeting; Suggests Focus Was Trilla

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.

8 thoughts on “Scully Cancels Parents Meeting; Suggests Focus Was Trilla

  1. I am not sure who it went out to, but it addresses the “Hispanic” community.

    I want to draw your attention to a few points:

    1) The obvious, that this letter is in English, only. Much like our system alerts. The fact that this notice was sent out specifically addressed to our Hispanic/Latino community and was not even sent in Spanish, highlights the lack of cultural competence on Mr. Scully’s behalf and on the district’s. It is embarrassing!

    2) I would also like to point out that a systemwide notice was sent out for a meeting, and there are still parents who said they never received notice of the BOMB threat that was at HHS just last week and only found out via fox25 and Facebook (I am one of the parents who received no notification, but I did receive this letter- so they have my email). This is concerning, What are our district’s priorities?

    3) In this notice Mr. Scully is backing out of a meeting that he set, because of “legal advise” that of course he cannot share. A meeting that threatened to unify parents from all demographics who have concerns for their children, a very pressing need that demands respect and attention. A meeting in which if any questions came up that Mr. Scully had been advised not to answer, he could have simply stated as he so aptly did in this notice that he was not at liberty to answer those questions.

    WE WILL STILL BE MEETING at 6:30pm at City Hall tomorrow night. As far as I am aware of nothing has changed among the parents of HPS who planned to gather. We will still be there, hopefully Mr. Scully will too. If not, WE will still discuss OUR concerns, collectively… as a community…unafraid. If we need to find another location from there, we will do that too. See you all tomorrow!

    #Haverhill #CommUNITY #Hilliepride #OURschools #OURkids

    • This is the letter the Haverhill Hispanic Coalition sent to Mr. Scully, School Committee Members, City Council Members and Mayour Fiorentini in response to the cancellation of the meeting. This is Coalition has been in existence since the 1990s addressing issues of injustice and discrimination to our children and community members. We are here to address these issues with the proper authorities, discuss the issues and collaboratively find solutions to the same. Not sure where Mr. Scully got his information from, perhaps he needs to verify the validity of sources before reacting.

      Dear Mr. Scully,

      We are disappointed that you have chosen to react to information that is inaccurate. While your personnel decisions continue to impact our community unfavorably, the issues that parents are ready to bring forward involve direct day to day problems they are having with transportation, communication with building and District offices, access to their neighborhood schools, overcrowding, busing away from their neighborhood, ongoing problems with Special Education services, and general concerns affecting families and children in Haverhill.

      Mayor Fiorentini assured the public on August 25, 2016 at the School Committee Meeting attended by parents and members of the Hispanic community, that you would be available to us. We have waited patiently for you to become available some three weeks after that meeting. Today you inform us that you must cancel your commitment based on a false pretext that is unrelated to our concerns.
      This is not a latino issue and it no longer is a Dr. Trilla. It is an issue that affects minorities and the access to equatable access to education. We are here looking out for the best interest of our children an will not let our guard down until these issues are addressed by you and your administration

      We will gather tomorrow evening at City Hall for parents to have the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding their experiences with the School District. It is regrettable that you will be unavailable for a meeting that you scheduled expressly for this purpose.

      Sincerely,

      Haverhill Hispanic Coalition

    • This is an ENGLISH speaking nation. You do realize that, don’t you Kat? It is not society’s responsibility to change for people who make the personal decision to come to this country without the ability speak English just because they then can’t function properly. And it should NOT be Jim Scully’s job!!

      Based simply on their name, the Haverhill Hispanic Coalition is a race based organization. Based on the way they have acted, they are a racial hate group. One thing is for sure, the goal of this group of Hispanics is NOT assimilation into an existing English speaking community. THAT is their problem…not Jim Scully’s or Haverhill Public School’s. Transferring the responsibility of people to function competently in a society at the very basic level of speaking the language of the land onto public officials is literally insane. And you talk about cultural competence? Try practicing what you preach, Kat.

      When you have your meeting Kat, know that your views do include the majority of people in the City of Haverhill. The “we” and “our” that you refer to is limited to the small group of racist Hispanics that somehow think are being victimized. There is actually a very easy solution to all of your group’s problems. Instead of seeking solutions via changes in public policy try promoting “individual responsibility” for all the racists in the HHC.

        • Mr. Jack you are wrong. The “we” and “our” I am referring to is inclusive and like it or not this is not just about race. If you live in Haverhill and your kids go to the Haverhill schools you are part of the We and OUR. I am speaking to the parents.

          You should also know that the populations who have the most “issue” with the Haverhill Public School district, are High Needs Students; this is inclusive of; the special education students and their families, the economically disadvantaged students and their families, the former ESL students now called fist language not English students, and their families, the English Language Learning students, and their families, etc… This category sir, is in fact the majority.

          Here is the data from the “Selected Populations (2015-16)” from the DESE website. *Note High Needs students make up 55.3% of our current student body. and 43% of the student body statewide.

          Title % of District % of State
          First Language not English 14.8 19.0
          English Language Learner 6.8 9.0
          Students With Disabilities 20.3 17.2
          High Needs 55.3 43.5
          Economically Disadvantaged 41.3 27.4

          • “…like it or not this is not just about race.”

            Yet, it is only a race based hate group whining and complaining that their extraordinary needs are not being met, and an insubordinate employee was fired with cause.

            Very convenient of you to completely ignore the whole premise of my comment Kat, that you, and your group refuse to assimilate to the English speaking culture you live in. The biggest tragedy of this is that you’re promoting to a generation of Hispanic kids that they are victims of make believe discrimination. Instead of embracing and assimilating to all that this country has to offer, you’re teaching and promoting an agenda that will only lead to these kids being left behind academically and socially. That’s on you, Kat!!

  2. Anyone who watched the original School Committee meeting could discern that the overriding reason for the meeting parents requested was to discuss the removal of Dr. Trilla, in addition to their feelings that the district doesn’t do enough to communicate with families whose first language is not English.
    In my view, canceling this meeting only bolsters the families’ view that their concerns don’t matter.