There have been focus groups and surveys in advance of the creation of a search committee that on January 7 received its marching orders from James Hardy, field director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, to find a new Old Rochester Regional superintendent of schools.
Hardy had conducted focus groups and surveys, which he said aided in the development of questions or types of questions the committee would be asking candidates in the coming weeks.
But the Search Committee meeting also put in motion how the evaluation process and interviews will be conducted, with conflict of interest and Open Meeting Law concerns rising to the top of how the committee members will be expected to conduct the process.
The committee is comprised of 15 Tri-Town residents who represent parents, school committees, educators, administrators, and local government: Mattapoisett Principal Rosemary Bowman, Marion Director of Finance and Mattapoisett resident Judy Mooney, Rochester Board of Selectmen member Greenwood “Woody” Hartley, educator Marissa Hughes, Rochester School Committee member Anne Fernandes, Marion School Committee member April Rios, educator Jamie Alves, Rochester Memorial School Principal Derek Medeiros, ORR School Committee member Paul Goulet, Mattapoisett School Committee member Jim Muse, Mattapoisett resident Shannon Finning, educator Elizabeth Milde, educator Carla Cafarella, Rochester resident Kevin Thompson, and ORRHS Principal Michael Devoll.
Hardy cautioned the group that the Open Meeting Law allows personnel matters of confidentiality to be held in executive session and then explained how going into executive session would proceed. He also discussed in detail the importance of ensuring that conflicts of interest are avoided and gave examples of when such issues should be brought to his attention for immediate attention. On that matter, Hardy talked about what constitutes a family member or when a previous relationship with a candidate had to be disclosed to dismiss or otherwise handle a potential conflict of interest.
The committee members signed confidentiality agreements, then Hardy asked that they, “as homework”, review a list of questions developed from the public sessions that had taken place – questions that the committee will use during the interviewing process. He noted that each interview would last 75 minutes.
Hardy also asked that the committee members review all the applications by January 15, after which his office would arrange the process of setting up interviews.
In October and November, the MASC conducted surveys and held focus group meetings in the Tri-Town followed in November by recruiting candidates for the Search Committee. In December, the superintendent position was advertised leading into the January 7 meeting, the first of which will be at least 10 meetings between January 14 and March. The application deadline is January 13 at 3:00 pm.
The timeline indicates that on January 21, the first interviews will begin, followed by others that will be scheduled for January 22, 23, 25, and 27. On January 29, the committee is expected to present a list of finalists to the ORR School District School Committee and Superintendency Union #55, at which time they will also be discharged from further service.
By Marilou Newell