School Superintendent Search Committee Names 3 Finalists

The Haverhill School Superintendent Search Advisory Committee wrapped up its work Tuesday night by naming three finalists for the job. (WHAV News photograph.)

Michael Gilbert, field director for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. (WHAV News photograph.)

The next Haverhill school superintendent could be a familiar face or a candidate currently working in Salem or Boston.

The candidates were whittled down by an 18-member search advisory board from 25 applicants. Eight were interviewed, including finalists Jared Fulgoni, Haverhill’s assistant superintendent; Margaret Marotta-Smith, assistant superintendent for Salem Public Schools; and Dr. Anthony Pope, currently instructional superintendent in Boston.

None of the three finalists to succeed Superintendent James F. Scully is currently a sitting superintendent. Pope, however, stepped down under fire in 2012 as Marlborough’s superintendent. Media at the time reported Pope was accused of shoving a guidance counselor during a student protest and teachers voted no confidence in him. Search consultant Michael Gilbert told Haverhill School Committee members it is up to them to conduct background checks.

“The School Committee has to do the reference checking and background checks. We have done some work to the level we are able to and allowed to do,” Gilbert said.

An online petition at, signed by 216 people, asked Pope not to attend high school graduation because “he is so strongly disliked and has caused so much harm to the school community.” Petitioners said he “Bullied and exploited students and staff,” “provoked confrontations with students and has used scare tactics to silence student voices” and “deliberately mishandled our High School’s accreditation…and continues to lie about it!”

According to reports, students protested Pope’s firing of Marlborough High Assistant Principal Adam Bakr. Bakr was reinstated after Pope’s departure.

School Committee Member Scott W. Wood Jr. said he did not want a repeat of an incident 10 years ago when the committee withdrew its offer to hire John G. Metallo as superintendent because the candidate omitted information about a year he spent as a high school principal in Westchester, N.Y.

“I think a background check on each of the candidates is important,” Wood said.

Fulgoni has moved up the ranks in Haverhill, beginning in 2012 as Hunking School principal before being named the district’s director of strategy and accountability in 2015 and then as assistant superintendent a year later. He served as principal at Triton Regional Middle School in Byfield from 2007 to 2012.

Marotta Smith has served as Salem’s assistant superintendent since 2012. Previously, she was director of pupil services there for two years, and spent three years as Boston Public School’s assistant director of special education.

Gilbert, field director for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said other candidates came from Maine, Connecticut, North Carolina, Kentucky and Florida. The full School Committee will next visit candidates’ current school districts during the last week of February. During the first or second week of March, they will host candidates on separate nights in Haverhill where members of the public may meet them before the committee conducts public interviews.