Superintendent showdown

Mayor Marty Walsh quickly sought to stabilize the Boston Public Schools in late June by tapping local education nonprofit leader Laura Perille as interim school superintendent to replace Tommy Chang, who exited abruptly with two years left on his contract in the face of mayoral displeasure with his tenure. But that move is now running into some serious shoals of its own.

The Globe reports that nearly a dozen educator, parent, and civil rights groups are calling on Walsh and the city’s School Committee to declare that Perille will not be a candidate in the search for a permanent superintendent for the district. Rev. Willie Bodrick II, a leader of one of the groups, told the Herald that the groups fear good outside candidates will be reluctant to apply for the post without clear assurance that Perille won’t be in the pool.

Asked about the request following last night’s School Committee meeting, Perille declined to say whether she plans to seek the permanent position. A spokeswoman for Walsh said the mayor would review the letter from the groups but said he will “defer any comments” on the search process to the School Committee.

Michael Loconto, the committee chairman, told the Globe last night that he hadn’t yet a chance to read the letter. But Hardin Coleman, the School Committee vice chairman, told the Herald it would be unfair to bar anyone from applying for the job, a move that he said would be “autocratic.”

Though the School Committee is formally in charge of the search and ultimate hiring of a superintendent, the reality is that how this is all handled will be the mayor’s call. He appoints School Committee members under the city’s mayorally-controlled school system.

Perille, who ran the nonprofit EdVestors, has been a well-respected figure in local education circles. She does not, however, have direct experience as a classroom teacher, school principal, or school district administrator. Several large urban districts have looked outside traditional circles for superintendents in recent years, tapping everyone from former business executives to ex-military leaders to bring fresh perspective to the challenge of improving big school districts. Perille would also bring one thing Chang and other superintendents hired through big national searches lacked — a detailed understanding of the complexities and politics of the Boston school system.

Boston has had experience in recent years with interim superintendents tasked with steering the district for periods of time. But both of those who’ve served recently in that role — John McDonough and Michael Contompasis — were nearing the end of their careers and made it clear they were not interested in the permanent job. (Contompasis can’t quite seem to fully retire, however, as he was recently tapped by the state to serve as receiver of a chronically struggling Boston elementary school.)

In Perille’s case, the fact that there has been no similar declaration certainly seems to suggest that she could become a candidate for the job. Globe columnist Joan Vennochi went much further than that, writing in early July at the time of Perille’s appointment as interim superintendent, that she is Walsh’s favored choice and “the permanent job is hers to lose.”

How this will play out is anyone’s guess. What’s certain is that Walsh — who is also fending off criticism over late and missed school bus trips — is learning that with the power of mayoral control of the schools also comes all the problems and tough decisions.



Beacon Hill’s top lobbying firm, ML Strategies, added another well-connected politician — Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, who will resign his post later this month, three months before his term expires. (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial voices support for a bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker to expand the cases in which prosecutors could seek a dangerousness hearing to hold defendants without bail.

A Lowell Sun editorial slams Auditor Suzanne Bump for her allegedly outdated report on the Registry of Motor Vehicles. A Salem News editorial suggests the audit was a partisan attack on Gov. Charlie Baker.

A coalition of open government advocacy groups presses for a number of changes on Beacon Hill. (MassLive)


The Worcester City Council approved the Worcester Red Sox stadium deal 9-1. (Telegram & Gazette)

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter says he plans to fire a parking officer who used a racial epithet and fabricated a claim that a disabled driver brandished a knife during an altercation over a handicapped parking space. (The Enterprise)

New Bedford officials and ABC Disposal have ramped up their fight over the trash company’s refusal to pick up some recycling bins because of rejected materials, with ABC calling the city’s threat to find the firm in breach “Mickey Mouse” and threatening a lawsuit for “millions of dollars.” City officials posted a picture of the Disney character on Facebook and slammed the company for name-calling. (Standard-Times)

City planner Jeff Speck tells Lynn what it needs to do to become more walkable — more trees is one of the recommendations. (Daily Item)


The foreign-born population in the United States is at its highest point since 1910, with most new arrivals coming from Asia, according to census data. (New York Times)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering “universal income” for some city residents, monthly payments to low-income families to cover the cost of basics such as food, housing, and transportation. (U.S. News & World Report)


The state’s top Democrats, who in the past have spoken highly of Gov. Charlie Baker, did their best to link him to President Trump’s agenda through his support for Republican Senate candidate Geoff Diehl, who is one of Trump’s biggest backers in the state. (CommonWealth)

In contrast to the results last week in several Massachusetts primary races, in New Hampshire, it was victory of the establishment, not the insurgents, says Michael Graham, as moderate Democrats in the primary for governor and a congressional seat prevailed over left-leaning competitors. (Boston Herald) But that doesn’t seem to true up down the line, as a 27-year-old former Afghan refugee crushed a veteran state rep in a Concord House district primary. (Boston Globe)

Analysts are puzzled by the large number of blanked ballots in the 3d congressional district race in Lowell. (Lowell Sun)

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo cruised to a fairly easy primary victory, setting the stage for a rematch with Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who won the GOP primary. (WBUR)

The odds of the Democrats retaking the US Senate are 1 in 3. (FiveThirtyEight)


Income growth among the state’s middle class is lagging the rest of the country. (Boston Globe)

More than a quarter of the workers at the Cape Cod Potato Chip facility in Hyannis were laid off by Campbell Soup, which bought the snack food’s parent company earlier this year. (Cape Cod Times)

Some businesses in the state’s marijuana industry are crying foul over a state Department of Health crackdown on the use of pesticides in marijuana crops, including some widely used in organic foods. (Boston Globe)

Ford Motor Company says it will reach out to Fall River police to repair a department SUV at no cost after an officer was hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning when the gas leaked into the passenger compartment. Police departments around the country as well as some private consumers have complained about carbon monoxide seeping into Ford Explorers. (Herald News)

Apple has launched its latest line of biggest and most expensive iPhones yet, following last year’s biggest and most expensive line and the year before’s biggest and most expensive line and… (Wall Street Journal)


Tanglewood attendance fell 5.5 percent this past summer. (Berkshire Eagle)

The Berkshire Museum reports it has sold 20 of the 22 artworks it planned to sell to bolster its endowment. (Berkshire Eagle)


On the same day he is meeting with bishops from around the world to resolve the exploding sex abuse scandal, Pope Francis has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against a West Virginia bishop and has accepted his resignation. (Washington Post)


The Worcester school system withdrew a planned middle school sex education curriculum after critics called it developmentally inappropriate. (Telegram & Gazette)


The growth in Massachusetts health care spending slowed in 2017, but will it start rising again? Partners HealthCare said a nurse staffing question on the fall ballot would drive up its costs by $140 million. (State House News) Berkshire Health Systems says the nurse staffing question would require it to add 125 nurses, boosting costs 4 percent. (Berkshire Eagle)

WBUR analyzes the state’s rejected bid to rein in Medicaid pharmaceutical spending.


Privatization through a three-exemption from the so-called Pacheco Law will save the MBTA $450 million over 10 years, according to a report the agency filed with the Legislature, but a fiscal watchdog says that’s all the more reason for Gov. Charlie Baker and lawmakers to extend the exemption — something both parties seem to have agreed not to do. (Boston Herald)


A new report blames regulatory issues for a slowdown in commercial solar power development. (MassLive)

Sudbury officials have asked the state to require Eversource to file a supplemental environmental impact report for a planned power transmission line between the town and Hudson, claiming the first report was “deficient.” (MetroWest Daily News)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold hearings later this month to learn more about Entergy’s proposed sale of Pilgrim power plant to a company specializing in decommissioning nuclear facilities with a plan for an accelerated timeline. (Cape Cod Times)


In the face of criticism, Rachael Rollins, who won last week’s Democratic primary for Suffolk district attorney, says the list of 15 lower-level offenses that she has said she would not prosecute if elected is “aspirational” and that she is not making “a blanket commitment” to follow it in all cases. (Boston Globe)


Lauren Dezenski is trading her gig writing Politico’s Massachusetts Playbook for a job co-writing CNN’s evening political newsletter, The Point. (Western Mass Politics & Insight)

The purge at CBS continues as the network fired the powerful executive producer of 60 Minutes after he sent a text message to a reporter threatening her job as she was investigating allegations of sexual harassment against him. (New York Times)