Reading Massachusetts Education


School Superintendent Search Committee members appointed: (Advocate 04/17/03) One of the last official acts of outgoing School Committee Chairman William Griset was to quietly, outside of public meetings, select and appoint his choices for the 11 member superintendent search committee, a subcommittee of the School Committee. His appointments include his sister-in-law / Campaign Manager Gael Phillips-Spence and, filling the two community member slots, Town Accountant Richard Foley and former Finance Committee Chair Carol Grimm.

The problems?

1. The appointment of a relative to an influential position, paid or not, raises questions, heightened by the fact that these appointments were accomplished through a closed door process.

2. Under changes implemented during outgoing School Superintendent Harutunian's tenure, the Town Accountant works directly for the school superintendent. In filling community slots with people employed by the Town or who have had significant interests on Town boards, Griset defeats the purpose of the two slots: to provide perspective from the community-at-large.

3. Some of Griset's selections are not Reading residents and, as employees, they might be inclined to serve their own interests over the best interests of the community.

Apparently new School Committee Chair Harvey "Pete" Dahl (Advocate 04/17/03) believes the search committee, as a subcommittee of the School Committee, need not post its meetings. Though Dahl maintains the meetings will be open to the public, even though the meetings are not posted, how is the public to know the time and location of these "open" School Superintendent search meetings?

Posting on the Town Bulletin Board of public meetings at least 48 hours in advance is required by Reading Charter (Sect. 8-10 Procedures of Multiple-Member Bodies) and the Open Meeting Law likewise requires posting, defining governmental bodies as " every board, commission, committee or subcommittee of any district, city, region or town, however elected, appointed or otherwise constituted..." The Superintendent Search Committee is a subcommittee of a governmental body, the School Committee, and therefore falls under the requirements of the Open Meeting Law. Their meetings should be posted.

In ignoring the need for an open process, are Reading officials laying the groundwork to insure the selection of a predetermined candidate for the next School Superintendent?


Conflict of Interest Questions involving high school renovations / space use and REAP Director, President. In 1997 (a year of peak elementary enrollment in Reading), the high school feasibility study by Drummey, Rosane and Anderson (DRA) suggested that adequate space existed in the high school Industrial Arts wing (now scheduled to be demolished) for a centralized early childhood center/full-day kindergarten program. At that time, Roberta D'Antona, the Director of Reading Extended-Day Activities Program (REAP) located at the High School, was on the Reading School Committee and the School Building Committee. REAP President, Margaret Cowell, was also on the School Building Committee at that time. DRA's suggestion fell flat and DRA was strongly criticized by D'Antona in her reports as School Building Committee liaison to the School Committee.

0_30_02_mandell_letter_to_building_committee.pdf - DRA once considered an early childhood center as an option.







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Reading Town Counsel Joan Langsam fined for Ethics Violation while Somerville Solicitor (10/15/01). While School Building Committee member Ray Porter was advocating at a Spring 2002 Town Meeting to adopt stricter language for disclosure, Langsam minimized the importance of disclosure and Porter's article failed at Town Meeting.


School Committee / Building Committee Member Timothy Twomey 01_06_03_timothy_twomey_ethics_declaration.pdf

Audio [7.50 MB download] from a 03/27/03 School Committee meeting. Clip includes includes public input regarding Flansburgh Associates practices, school problems, Timothy Twomey ethics discussion and Committee vote to select Design Partnership of Cambridge.

A lively 04/10/03 School Committee discussion turned heated when newly elected Chairman Harvey "Pete" Dahl, refused to allow resident Gary Phillips to speak on the school project unless Phillips apologized for statements he allegedly made about Twomey at a 03/27/03 final design architect selection meeting. Unfortunately, Dahl (audio 04/10/03) misrepresented Phillips' statements (audio 03/27/03) and demonstrated how he, as new School Committee Chairman, intends to "preside" over the business of the Reading Public Schools.

Phillips appears, however, to have hit a nerve on 03/27/03 when he suggested that outgoing, long-time School Building Committee / School Committee member / attorney / architect Timothy Twomey recuse himself from voting for the RMHS final design architect.

A recent 01/06/03 "letter of declaration" from Mr. Twomey was filed with the Town Clerk but, to date, no State Ethics Commission letter regarding Mr. Twomey has been made public.