The Boston School Committee tonight picked Brenda Cassellius, former commissioner of education for the state of Minnesota as the city's new school superintendent, in a 5-2 vote. Now the committee and Cassellius will try to work out a contract that will bring her to Boston permanently.
If she comes, Cassellius would take over from interim Superintendent Laura Perille, who took herself out of the running for the permanent job to replace ousted Superintendent Tommy Chang.
In a statement, School Superintendent Michael LoConto said:
We are excited to begin working soon with Dr. Cassellius, whose wealth of experience, commitment to equity, and proven track record as an education leader will be critical in continuing our progress in the Boston Public Schools.
Quality Education for Every Student, a group of BPS parents, expressed cautious optimism about her selection.
We were concerned about the process leading to this decision but are cautiously optimistic about the choice of Dr. Cassellius. She was very clear about her thinking on issues such as high-stakes standardized testing, teacher diversity, district budgeting, exam school admissions and parent engagement. She offered a vision for education in Boston that many parents will be able to get behind.
If she takes the job, one of her first major tasks could be to negotiate a new contract with the Boston Teachers Union, whose president, Jessica Tang, said in a statement:
We applaud her commitment to equity and appreciate her first-hand experience at all levels of education. The BTU welcomes her and looks forward to a long, collaborative relationship with Dr. Cassellius. To start, we hope to resolve our long-standing need for a new contract that helps ensure the schools our students deserve. We are eager to work with Dr. Cassellius to reach an agreement that includes proper staffing for special education inclusion programs for students in every Boston Public School, to provide for a full-time nurse and licensed counselor in every school, and to address student homelessness through initiatives including Hub Community Schools.
Cassellius began her educational career as a paraprofessional working with special-needs students in 1990:
She later became a social studies teacher, diversity coordinator, and assistant principal of schools in Minnesota before becoming an academic superintendent for the Memphis City Schools in Tennessee. From 2007-2010, she served as an associate superintendent for the Minneapolis Public Schools in Minnesota, and was superintendent of the East Metro Integration District in Maplewood, Minnesota, from 2010-2011 before becoming the state’s education commissioner.