Schools to decide whether to mount superintendent search


While former school superintendent Peter Horoschak was placed on administrative leave in September and continued to get paid until an agreement ending employment was announced on Dec. 22, the School Committee has yet to take action to permanently fill the post.

That could change at the School Committee meeting Tuesday.

Committee member Jennifer Ahearn, who questioned whether the committee should name a search panel last month and was told by the department’s human services director and legal counsel Rosemary Healey that her inquiry was inappropriate, wants to see a nationwide search for Horoshak’s successor. Special education director Richard D’Agostino has been serving in the role of acting superintendent since Horoschak left.

“I asked that it be put on the agenda,” Ahearn said Tuesday.

She said she would like to have the department retain an outside consultant who would assess department needs, conduct interviews and come to the School Committee with a short list of candidates. She feels that much is owed to the city and to the children.

She said it is the committee’s job to “strive for the best education for our children” and if that approach isn’t taken, “we’re falling way short of where we should be.”

Ahearn said a nationwide search could end up with D’Agostino or someone else in the department – director of secondary education Dennis Mullen and director of the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center William McCaffrey have also been rumored as candidates – but until a search is done, “we don’t know.”

Healey said Tuesday that she is waiting for the committee to determine a course of action. Among the options she listed were a national or local search and for the committee to name a superintendent without conducting a search.

Intrigue has swirled around Horoschak’s abrupt placement on administrative leave. He says no explanation was given to him and the committee never gave reasons for its action. Under the agreement reached, both parties vowed silence beyond a release that cited some of Horoschak’s achievements while in the post and wishing him well.

Horoschak’s three-year contract expired this August. A severance payment was not disclosed. The Beacon has filed a request under the Open Records Act for access to those parts of the agreement that fall under the law.

Since taking on the role of acting superintendent, D’Agostino has reactivated the school facilities planning committee, dividing it into subcommittees studying short- and long-term goals as the system experiences a decline in enrollment. The short-term panel is in the midst of studying the closure of either Aldrich or Gorton Junior High, as the two schools and Winman Junior High are operating at less than half capacity.

Meeting prior to the School Committee, the short-term subcommittee is expected to review projected savings if one or the other school was closed. The subcommittee will make a recommendation to the School Committee, which will conduct at least one public hearing before taking action according to D’Agostino.

School Committee Chair Bethany Furtado could not be reached for comment.

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