EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Mayor Lantigua

September 23, 2011

Screening committee rejects all 17 school chief candidates

Click HERE to read the screening committee's letter to the School Committee

LAWRENCE — The search for a permanent superintendent to run Lawrence public schools goes on after a screening panel appointed by Mayor William Lantigua decided not to recommend any of the 17 candidates who applied.

"It is my responsibility to report that no two of the current applicants were found suitable for recommendation by the Screening Committee," Rafael Abislaiman, chairman of the Lawrence Superintendent Screening Committee, told the School Committee last night.

"We recognize that excellent and worthy candidates submitted applications but it was decided that none was the right fit for this City," Abislaiman said, reading from a two-page statement.

"The Committee was tasked with screening to a very high standard. As a result, after interviewing four of seventeen candidates, conducting extensive reference checks, and reflecting on the charge given to the Screening Committee, our committee voted not to recommend candidates for School Committee review," he said.

Abislaiman, who is executive director of the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, said "the timing and when the committee met" turned out to be obstacles in securing a good field of suitable candidates.

He noted that job advertisements that ran in various national publications "unfortunately coincided with the start of a new school year — when most high level educational leaders are already committed."

The screening committee recommends that the posting remain open and that the School Committee initiate "a nationwide search that includes the recruitment of candidates having the leadership skills, qualifications and successful experience needed to work with this committee to lead the Lawrence Public Schools in its efforts to become a high-performing school district."

Abislaiman did not release any names of the applicants and he said he hoped that the School Committee would protect the candidates by keeping their names confidential.

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