After 14 Years, ‘Children’s Advocate’ Toohey Leaves School Committee

Shaun P. Toohey’s 14-year tenure on the Haverhill School Committee ended Thursday night with a plea to his soon-to-be former colleagues.

“I’m asking now as a father, to make sure you guys do the right thing. Put the children first. Put politics aside and choose the best superintendent you can,” Toohey said.

Whether they’d served with him for more than a dozen years or just a dozen months, members of the  Committee said Toohey will best be remembered as a fierce advocate for children who is dedicated to his family.

Two-term committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti said he and Toohey coached Little League together, which gave him an opportunity to see Toohey’s commitment to the community and concern for children first-hand.

“One thing I really respect about Shaun is that he’s a great family man who really cares about his son, his daughter and his wife,” Magliocchetti said. “You always show loyalty and friendship to those around you,” he told Toohey.

A common theme emerged as members took turns saying their good-byes.

Member Scott W. Wood Jr., who has served with Toohey for all of his 14 years on the committee, said their tenure was marked by both arguments and shared laughs.

“He never wavered on his core beliefs or values,” Wood said.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Toohey upheld his responsibility to the parents of the district and the taxpayers of the city, and always basing his decisions on what he believed was best for the kids.

“Sometimes when we’ve disagreed — like on the selection of Mr. Scully — you’ve been right,” the mayor told Toohey, referring to Superintendent James F. Scully, who is set to retire at the end of this school year.

School Committee President Gail Sullivan complimented Toohey’s demeanor.

“I have always appreciated that you are always kind, and always a gentleman,” Sullivan said, describing him as fair and reasonable.

His colleagues noted Toohey’s other role on the committee as a fiscal watchdog. It’s a role Toohey said he is proud of.

“I’ve tried to be as fair and equitable as I possibly could while being fiscally conservative,” Toohey said.

When the School Committee next meets in January, real estate agent Rich Rosa will replace Toohey, who did not seek re-election.