Union Agrees to Silver Hill Charter School Vote Delay

Haverhill Education Association President Lisa R. Begley.

A vote by members of the Haverhill Education Association on the future of the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School has been postponed until next month as school supporters step up efforts to win renewal of its charter.

The vote had been planned for Thursday, but parents appealed to the teachers’ union to delay a vote, calling it “premature” since Silver Hill has not yet completed its renewal application, according to a statement.

“We are encouraged by the HEA’s decision to postpone the vote to a later date. We look forward to working collaboratively with HEA to ensure that their members have the complete and accurate information necessary to cast an informed vote related to Silver Hill’s charter renewal.  Their decision tonight suggests they are committed to such a process,” said a parents’ statement.

On Monday, Attorney Matthew Plain of Barton Gilman, Boston, threatened to contest the union vote if it was not delayed.

“Silver Hill does not dispute that a majority vote of HEA’s members is ultimately necessary for its Charter renewal. However, the vote presently scheduled for this Thursday, May 11, 2017 is decidedly premature…Accordingly, should this vote proceed as planned, Silver Hill reserves all rights to challenge the validity and HEA’s process and voting outcome, and to continue to pursue Charter renewal.”

Silver Hill is seeking the second renewal of its Horace Mann Charter since 2007. Subsequent renewals were approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with the support of both the City of Haverhill’s School Committee and Haverhill Education Association, a statement said.

If left up to teachers at the school, Silver Hill’s charter would easily win renewal, Silver Hill Chairman Euthemia Gilman told WHAV last week. However, she said, a decision by Haverhill Education Association President Lisa R. Begley to have all members of the union take part in vote left that outcome less certain.

Begley previously told WHAV she agreed to allow both sides of the issue to distribute literature. “All the teachers, ESP’s and secretarial staff at Silver Hill are a part of the Haverhill Education Association. As such I need to support them as well as the HEA members at all of our schools.”

Last week, Gilman appeared resigned to changing Silver Hill to an “innovation school,” a hybrid between district-owned charter schools and standard public schools.

“We were always seen as running an elitist school, which is not the case. Close to 80 percent of our students are from the Mount Washington area and go on to Consentino School,” she said.

One parent speculated, “School Committee members and the elected city officials seem to want the HEA to take down the charter renewal for them, so they don’t have to risk their political capital.”

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