EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 14, 2013

Sister of committee member hired over more experienced candidates

METHUEN — The School Committee vice chairman’s younger sister was hired last year as a high school teacher in August over other candidates with a higher level of education and more experience, according to School Department records.

Stephanie Chaisson, 23, a 2012 graduate of St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., and a 2008 Methuen High honors AP graduate, was hired as a high school social studies teacher months after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history.

One other candidate for the job has master’s degree in education from the UMass-Lowell and three years combined of full-time experience teaching high school social studies at Methuen and Nashua, N.H.. Another candidate had a master’s degree, also from UMass-Lowell, and six months of full-time high school teaching experience.

Chaisson’s brother, Evan, is vice chairman of the School Committee. He is a former employee of The Eagle-Tribune, where he worked in the circulation department.

Evan Chaisson did not return a voice message seeking comment.

“Stephanie Chaisson was hired as a teacher because, based upon the unanimous viewpoint of all who were involved, she was the best candidate,” Superintendent Judith Scannell said in an email to The Eagle-Tribune. “Yes, she is the sister of School Committee member Evan Chaisson, but this had absolutely nothing to do with this decision. Mr. Chaisson played no role whatsoever in the process, and his School Committee position did not impact this decision in any way. Moreover, Ms. Chaisson’s performance since being hired has been exemplary.”

High School Principal James Giuca did not respond to two emails seeking comment and asking what qualities led him to recommend Stephanie Chaisson over the other candidates. Stephanie Chaisson did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Chaisson was first hired as a day-to-day substitute teacher in December 2011 while completing her degree at St. Anselm, according to School Department records. Last summer she applied for two social studies positions at Methuen High School. She filled the first one in August, starting at $40,507 per year.

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