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Two candidates will be interviewed for BPS superintendent

Public meetings scheduled Thursday, Friday

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the Banner’s senior editor. VIEW BIO

Boston Public Schools officials announced two finalists in the search for the district’s next superintendent. The two will be interviewed this week in a series of public meetings.

Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper and BPS Region 1 Superintendent Tommy Welch emerged as finalists from a field of 35 candidates. 

Skipper, a former superintendent of high schools for BPS, has led the 19,500-student Somerville district for the last seven years. She taught Latin and Greek at Boston College High School before joining BPS in 1997.

Welch came to Boston from the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2015 when former LAUSD Instructional Superintendent Tommy Chang was appointed BPS superintendent. As Region 1 superintendent, he supports 15 schools that serve 7,000 students in East Boston, Charlestown and the North End.

While the search committee received 35 responses, they narrowed the field through three successive rounds of interviews to four in the current round. Two of the applicants — one Black, one Latino — dropped out in the current round, leaving Skipper and Welsh the final two candidates.

“They dropped out for personal reasons,” said Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger, who heads the search committee.

The search initially drew a diverse pool of Black, Latino, Asian and white candidates, Eddinger said. She said the committee prioritized candidates with experience working with diverse populations.

“We wanted a superintendent who is anti-racist,” she said.

Eddinger said neither she nor any other committee members faced outside pressure from elected officials or advocates, noting that each of the committee members worked under strict orders not to discuss their proceedings with people outside the committee.

“This was as tight a process as any I’ve ever run,” she said.

Searches for school superintendents are typically run with a high degree of secrecy, as many applicants work in other districts, and any disclosure of their interest in a job could damage their professional reputation.

The committee has been working on a tight timeline, as outgoing Superintendent Brenda Cassellius is set to leave at the end of the month.

Not everyone is pleased by the speed of the process, though.

“The process has been really secretive and rushed,” said Ruby Reyes, executive director of the Boston Education Justice Alliance.

Public meetings with the two finalists are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, June 23 and 24.

Skipper will be in public interviews Thursday. The first panel, at 10:30 a.m., will consist of community partners. From 1:30 to 3 p.m., the candidate will be interviewed by educators and school leaders. From 3:30 to 5 p.m., she will be interviewed by students and families.

On Friday, Welch will face the same panels on the same schedule. All interviews will be held in the School Committee chamber in the Bruce Bolling Municipal Building and streamed via Zoom and open to the public. Both candidates will be interviewed by the Boston School Committee from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

boston public schools, BPS, superintendent
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