The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 7, 2003


CCHS superintendent search encounters a few bumps

The search for a new superintendent of Concord and Concord-Carlisle Schools is nearing the final decision point as the search committee prepares to visit the home school districts of the two finalists, MAK Mitchell of Seattle and Brenda Finn of the Gill-Montague Regional School System. At its February 25 meeting, chair Betsy Bilodeau informed the regional school committee that the third candidate, Mary Jennings of Groton, has withdrawn her application for the position.

The search has not been without some controversy and surprises, raising questions whether the committee has sufficiently probed candidates' backgrounds.

Reference checks

"The article in the Concord Journal was particularly disappointing," Bilodeau said, referring to a February 20 article indicating a lack of reference checking on the part of the search committee. Committee member Lauren Walters, expressing concern that the candidates' references need to be checked further, suggested search consultant James Walsh attend the meetings planned for the following week. "I've worked with the search consultant, and I've updated you," on the reference checks, Bilodeau responded, clearly uncomfortable with having the search consultant attend the meetings.

"This is a critical time," Walters answered. "We haven't met with the consultant..." "Let's stop here,"member Michael Fitzgerald interrupted. "The consultant has been to at least two meetings." "I have no desire to have them at the meeting," Bilodeau said. There would be probing questions, potential digging into candidates' backgrounds, and it would be perceived in a negative way, she said. Reference checks have been done, and the committee has to be careful. "This is a public, sensitive issue," Fitzgerald agreed. "I understand sensitive, but we can do it in an executive session," Walters suggested. "The Journal article may not have been fair in your opinion, but issues were raised about one candidate. The issues should be dealt with." "The meetings can't be held in executive session," Fitzgerald said. "We are not in a process to rip professionals," Bilodeau said. "If you feel you want the consultant to attend, make a motion and we will vote." Walters moved to request that search consultant John Walsh attend the next meeting. The motion was not seconded and it failed to come to a vote.

Anonymous letter

Member Nicole Burkel mentioned an anonymous letter she received regarding a candidate for the superintendent position. "It was signed by "Concerned parents of Carlisle and Concord," she said. It was revealed that the whole committee received the letter. "It was particularly offensive," Burkel said. Bilodeau interrupted the discussion, saying the subject of the letter was no longer a candidate and the discussion was not necessary at that point.

The RSC expects to make a final hiring decision in mid-March.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito