Easthampton school board reboots superintendent search after hiring controversy
The Easthampton School Committee has decided to pause its search for a new superintendent. The process has grabbed national headlines.
The board voted Tuesday night to hire an interim superintendent for the upcoming school year and to restart the search for a permanent leader next winter.
That's after one candidate, Vito Perrone had his job offer rescinded, in part, over his use of the term "ladies" in an email to the school committee chair, according to both Perrone and the chair, Cynthia Kwiecinski.
Kwiecisnki said the decision to pull the offer was also related to his requests over salary and benefits.
A second candidate, Erica Faginski-Stark, then withdrew from the process, reportedly after being criticized for her social media posts about transgender girls taking part in school sports.
School committee member Laurie Garcia said she's still upset the committee rescinded Perrone's offer.
"When a committee member said, 'well, we have to move forward', I said, 'we're not moving forward, we're actually moving backwards,' and that's how I feel right now," Garcia said. "I feel very disillusioned and dismayed at this whole situation."
On multiple occasions, the committee has voted down motions to reopen talks with Perrone, including during Tuesday’s meeting.
Garcia said despite this, she’s still hearing from community members who want Perrone to be the superintendent but added, “I know my committee and there's no way they are going to move in that direction."
During the meeting, Kwiecinski — the Easthampton school committee chair — said hiring an interim superintendent would “hopefully quiet things down a little bit.” She said the board will work with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents to find candidates for the temporary position.
The situation with Perrone has been the subject of much controversy, including a protest in Easthampton. Interest was so great that one school committee meeting could not be held because the virtual platform for it reached its participant limit. The issue also reached national news outlets including Fox News.