Brockton school committee member upset over superintendent search team

BROCKTON – Tensions flared at the most recent Brockton School Committee meeting over the selection process for the subcommittee that will interview candidates for the new interim superintendent position.

Four members of the committee were selected to conduct the applicant review process: Mayor and School Committee Chair Robert Sullivan, School Committee Vice Chair Tony Rodrigues, Ana Oliver and Jorge Vega.

Ward 5 School Committee member Judy Sullivan objected to these committee assignments.

“These committees and subcommittees are padded with certain people’s friends,” said Judy Sullivan. “Certain people that have been on this committee for years are being slighted on these subcommittees.”

Sullivan added that Rodrigues was “putting his people” on the subcommittees, which shocked many fellow committee members.

“You can’t say ‘his people,'” the mayor said in response to Sullivan.

The vice chair of the School Committee appoints members to subcommittees.

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In a tense and chaotic moment, several school committee members were visibly distraught following Judy Sullivan’s comments.

“Please do not refer to us as ‘his people’ because this is one body,” Rodrigues said. “This is a team effort.”

“Do not label me,” said Oliver. “Do not put me in a category. I know who I am. I know where I stand. I know my values and my morals, and I vote for myself.”

“I’ve made it abundantly clear in my five minutes here is that I’m not part of any team. I’m here for our kids,” said Vega, the board’s newest member who was appointed on April 11. “I’m here with the lens of an educator, I’m here with the lens of a school administrator. I’m only going to make decisions based on my experience and what I think is appropriate.”

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“I think the newest member just hit it on the head,” added Mayor Sullivan. “We’re here for the kids, and we as adults have to set the example.“

Committee members Joyce Asack and Claudio Gomes said they also expressed interest in joining the interim superintendent selection team but were fine with the members who were recommended by the vice chair.

“It’s one body and I should feel comfortable if these four go in there to represent us that they will represent us, and that they will work on behalf of the students,” said Gomes. “It doesn’t matter who it is.“

As vice chair, Rodrigues recommended Oliver and Vega join him and the Mayor on the search subcommittee. The group of four will interview applicants in executive sessions before bringing two or three finalists before the whole committee, who will collectively vote on the final decision.

Judy Sullivan was the only member to vote against the proposed slate for the subcommittee.

But this is the not the first time she has expressed concern about the board’s general subcommittee assignments created by Rodrigues.

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Tensions flare back up

The committee was divided earlier this year when electing a vice chair, with several tied votes between Rodrigues and former committee member Kathleen Ehlers keeping the board deadlocked for roughly two months.

According to Judy Sullivan, Ehlers drafted subcommittee assignments for the board before they elected a vice chair, and the assignments changed after Rodrigues earned the vice chair seat.

According to BPS attorneys, Ehler’s original draft assignments couldn’t be solidified because there was no vice chair in place at the time. Once Rodrigues was elected as the vice chair, he created this year’s subcommittees per the committee’s normal practices.


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