Mayor Gets Out of Sick Bed to Settle Superintendent Search Squabble

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s absence while recovering from surgery was apparently causing confusion in some quarters as the city begins the search for a new school superintendent.

That is, until the mayor stepped out of his sick bed Monday to help sort it out. Both a member of the School Committee and the teacher’s union president complained meeting schedules came out too late and it was not clear as to who was serving. School Committee President Gail M. Sullivan, however, said the calendar was previously agreed up by the School Committee and she has been trying to help to keep the process moving.

“The original calendar was proposed at a School Committee meeting by the consultant and the School Committee approved of that calendar and that process. Then there was some challenges to that because of the mayor’s procedure,” She said.

Fiorentini told WHAV last week he was in the hospital five days to have a growth removed. He said he will be out of the office for about four weeks.

Haverhill Education President Lisa R. Begley said communication has been poor. For example, she said, she wasn’t certain if the mayor had accepted a consultant’s recommendations about who would serve on what would become an 18-member citizen advisory committee.

“So, I’m sitting there listening and I’m hearing what’s being recommended, but at no time is anyone telling me I have those slots,” Begley said.

Considering the advisory committee is about to begin interviewing candidates to replace retiring Superintendent James F. Scully, Begley said she didn’t know if her representatives had been named. “Of course, I was concerned and frustrated because no one had made contact with me yet and I went from hearing that I would have three teachers to then hearing I would only have one.”

In the end, a list was released Monday showing Begley would serve along with teachers Nicole LaRose-Sanchez and Timothy Briggs and support staffer Maureen Zuber.

School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr., who along with Sullivan will represent the School Committee on the search board, acknowledged consultant Michael Gilbert recommended meeting dates, but said he did not believe he or the mayor had been consulted.

“Everybody was operating, quite frankly, in the dark. No one had any information and so I was very discouraged with the process,” he said.

Wood said Gilbert could have done a better job consulting with the entire School Committee.

Sullivan said it was the mayor who had been speaking to the consultant. She admits it is “challenging” to accommodate all the members and their diverse schedules.

Wood thanked Fiorentini for stepping in.

“Up to today, I would characterize the search process as being extremely disorganized. As of today, with the mayor stepping in and providing some leadership with it, I think it’s helped.”

Here is the complete list of the advisory committee members:

Mayor James Fiorentini School Committee
Ms. Gail Sullivan School Committee
Mr. Scott Wood School Committee
Ms. Nicole LaRose-Sanchez Teacher-Elementary
Mr. Timothy Briggs Teacher-Middle
Ms. Lisa Begley Teacher-High School
Ms. Maureen Zuber Support Staff
Ms. Erin MacKay Building Administrator
Ms. Beverly Cassano Central Office
Ms. Ada Greenberg SEPAC
Ms. Jessica Collins Community/Parent (Maura Ryan-Ciardiello)
Mr. Donald Davoli Community/Parent (Scott Wood)
Dr. John Maddox Community/Parent (Richard Rosa)
Mr. Salvatore DeFranco Community/Parent (Attorney Magliocchetti)
Dr. Thomas Grannemann Community/Parent (Mr. Amirian)
Attorney Dena Papanikolaou Community/Parent (Ms. Sullivan)
Dr. Lane Glen Community/Parent (Mayor Fiorentini)
Alexander Papanikolaou Student (HHS Student Council/SAC)