A Message From the Superintendent
September 13, 2016
As Superintendent of Schools it is my responsibility to look out for the best interests of all children so that they receive an appropriate education that prepares them for the future.
Recently some parents expressed concerns regarding the English Language Learner Program. A few weeks ago, I met with some interested parents to hear matters relative to communication with the school department regarding the needs of their children. At that meeting, I explained that I understand, and have always understood, what families face in an environment where the primary language is not English. I have spent the majority of my professional career working in communities that were largely Hispanic. At that time, a meeting with a broader segment of parents was agreed, however, it was also understood that I am legally not able to discuss any personnel matters of the Haverhill Public Schools and that no such discussion would take place.
Late Monday afternoon, I was informed by several members of the Hispanic community that the meeting scheduled for this Wednesday evening would be dominated by those advocating for a former employee. On advice of legal counsel for the Haverhill Public Schools I have been instructed that I should not participate in discussion, which will primarily focus on personnel matters within the school department. I am prohibited by law from discussing these issues. I then informed the person helping me coordinate this meeting that I would not be able to participate in such a meeting which is not designed to promote a meaningful discussion on how our English Language Learner students can best be served.
As I have previously explained there are principals and others well versed and very capable in the school system with conversing and working with the English Language Learner population. I have also appointed Dr. Darshan Thakkar, who is multi-lingual to oversee this program and make sure all is in order for the variety of languages spoken in the Haverhill Public Schools. Dr. Thakkar’s doctoral work was focused on the success of English Language Learners.
This week, the district has hired a person who will serve as a bilingual parent liaison to personally assist you with any issues you may have. We have also hired a person who can provide the same function with the Special Education population.
I have always stated that if you have not received satisfactory response to your concerns in the schools, please feel free to call Dr. Thakkar at 978-374-5740. If you still feel that your matters are not being addressed, I will always be willing to meet with you and try to help you as I have done for years and years with various parents.
Given the fact that the original purpose of Wednesday evening’s meeting was to meet with parents regarding the needs of children, I will shortly be organizing meetings throughout the school district to meet with you in your neighborhood schools to review with you any matters that you may have regarding your child’s educational program.
Again, thank you for your understanding of the facts and your appreciation of my primary responsibility to advocate for all children in our city’s schools.
James F. Scully
Superintendent of Schools