Haverhill Schools’ Academic Officer to Take Framingham Job Out of ‘Self-Respect’

Chief Academic Officer Darshan Thakkar. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill’s third ranking school administrator is leaving the system for a job in Framingham Public Schools.

Chief Academic Officer Darshan Thakkar of Burlington will become Framingham’s assistant director of secondary education Sept. 16. He says the commute is about the same and he will take a cut in pay, but he is moving on out of self-respect.

“For the last year, with all the changes, it became quite apparent since the beginning of last year, more and more my contributions were no longer welcome, my expertise wasn’t valued and my presence wasn’t desired,” Thakkar told WHAV.

Haverhill School Committee members learned Wednesday of the resignation, prompting School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. to call for eliminating the now-vacant job. Wood explains, after speaking with Thakkar, he is concerned about any duplicate job responsibilities. Two people have been performing the job since former Haverhill High School Principal Beth Kitsos was appointed a little more than a year ago.

“I had a conversation with Dr. Thakkar and he felt that when he added a second academic officer, there was duplication of duties,” Wood said. He said he placed an item on the next School Committee agenda to eliminate the job.

Thakkar said he has no problem with Kitsos’ appointment, but rather attitudes toward him changed with the arrival of Marotta. He theorized Kitsos was moved from the high school simply to create a position for Marotta’s former Salem, Mass., associate Glenn Burns. Thakkar’s job once covered grades K-8, but was reduced to elementary grades when Kitsos was also appointed as a chief academic officer.

“In practice, it was impossible to serve in bifurcated roles because there was so much overlap in duties. It wasn’t a well thought out move.”

In July of 2018, Superintendent Margaret Marotta justified the additional position by citing the resignation of Assistant Superintendent Jared Fulgoni and a lack of time to fill his post. At the time, Wood agreed to support the second academic officer on a temporary basis.

Thakkar joined Haverhill Schools in 2004—first as a Haverhill High School math teacher, becoming assistant principal at Consentino School in 2013 and promoted to chief academic officer in 2016. Shortly after his promotion, however, School Committee members singled out Thakkar for a two-year contract extension, while giving two others three-year contracts.

Wood charges, “He’s leaving for less money which says something about the state of morale in the Haverhill Public Schools.”

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