Whittier Tech School Committee Elects Wood Chairman; Process Marks Whirlwind Turnaround

Mayoral candidate and School Committee member Scott W. Wood. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News.)

Click image above for Haverhill School Committee agenda.

Former Haverhill School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. last night was unanimously elected chairman of the Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School Committee.

The election by his Whittier Tech peers brings full circle a series of moves that began in February to oust Wood from the regional board, invite candidates last month to complete Wood’s unexpired term, then—without full explanation from the Haverhill School Committee or city solicitor—shelve a policy that kicked off the confusion and ultimately to change its interview process for the other Haverhill Whittier seat held for 24 years by Richard P. Early Jr.

Wood, whose appointment by the Haverhill School Committee expires March 31, 2026, succeeds Garry James of Ipswich as chairman. James’ board seat is now held by Carol Sullivan who was seated April 1.

Back on Feb. 29, the Haverhill School Committee’s Policy subcommittee voted to recommend a new policy that cut Wood’s term short. The policy declared, “If a Haverhill School Committee member is appointed to the Whittier Tech School Committee and chooses not to run for reelection or is not reelected before the end of their three-year term the position shall be considered vacated, and the appointee must reapply to the Haverhill School Committee if they want to finish their term on the Whittier Tech School Committee.”

The policy was intended to cement a tradition that preference for one of two seats would be given to a sitting Haverhill School Committee member, but—in the words of the policy— “appointing a member is not required.” The full School Committee ratified the policy March 14 only to apparently have City Solicitor Lisa L. Mead rule the vote violated the state’s Open Meeting Law by not having each of several policies announced and voted on separately. The city did not explain why School Committee lawyer David M. Connelly was not involved in the process.

The saga continues tonight when the Haverhill School Committee is scheduled to interview Early in his request for reappointment. In addition, Mayor Melinda E. Barrett has asked for the School Committee to respond to Open Meeting Law complaints by Allis Sears and Tom Duggan.

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