School Committee, superintendent not beholden to City Council …. By Jack Livramento
I attended the budget meeting of June 18 at the City Council chambers. The meeting was called to go over the school budget for 2015-16 and to address any questions that members of the council may have had on the budget. I also witnessed a verbal attack by a member of the City Council, Councilor at large Linda Morad, on schools Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin.
To begin the meeting, Ms. Morad asked, or rather, demanded, that School Committee members attend City Council meetings on a regular basis and not just at budget approval time. She proceeded to lash out at Dr. Durkin for not showing up at a previous council meeting when she was asked to attend to answer questions Ms. Morad or other council members may have had.
So I guess the request to attend a council meeting by a council member is not a “request,” it is a “demand.” After verbally abusing Dr. Durkin, Ms. Morad picked up her belongings and stormed out of the meeting without even asking a single question about the budget.
Here are just a few points of clarification.
1. Dr. Durkin is hired by the School Committee. She is evaluated by the School Committee and she attends City Council meetings if the School Committee instructs her to attend such meetings.
2. The School Committee is an elected body responsible to the public, to the citizens of the city of New Bedford, to the students who attend the schools, and to the teachers, staff and administrators who run the schools. Running the schools is our job. We were not appointed by the City Council or any other body in the city.
3. If City Council members have questions about procedures that are followed in the schools, those questions need to be referred to School Committee members and the questions need to be addressed by the responsible person. If I had a question concerning snow removal or the repair of potholes on my street, would I bring it before a School Committee meeting or would I bring it to a City Council member and ask them to address the situation?
What I am asking for is respect: respect for a duly elected body in the city of New Bedford and respect for its fellow citizens. This type of behavior is not acceptable. We expect our students to behave in a more civil manner. Shouldn’t we expect more from our elected officials? Elected members of the City Council and elected members of the School Committee need to work together to make sure that every child receives the best education they can get.
This is my own personal opinion. I was not asked by other members of the School Committee to write this letter.
Jack Livramento is a member of the New Bedford School Committee.