Definition of insanity? See Peabody School Committee

13 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

In a demented version of the TV show “Survivor,” the Gang that Can’t See Straight,” our “illustrious” Peabody School Committee, last night eliminated the only remaining candidate to be Superintendent of the dysfunctional 6,000-student school system.

That’s right, after hiring the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) to conduct a “nationwide search” for our next super, and after not liking any of the six and then three finalists the MASC brought before them, our elected school solons have finally come to a remarkable realization:

The one remaining candidate – a kindly looking principal of some Lynn elementary school – was not qualified to be CEO of a large, complex, and somewhat failing Peabody school system, and its $72m budget. Well … duh!

einsteinThe school committee members have seen their shadows, and it’ll be another 52 weeks of mediocrity under Interim Superintendent for Life Herbie Levine, who by now must be getting a cramp in his hand from writing out so many campaign contribution checks.

“Welcome back, it’s like you never left,” SC member Tom Rossignoll told Levine during last night’s meeting. Wonder if Tommy added later: “Oh, and by the way, my councilor at-large fundraiser is coming up. Hope you can make it.”

BTW, since becoming ISFL (Interim Super for Life), Herbie and wife have made 13 campaign contributions to the School Committee Chairman. For those keeping count, that’s almost $2K in less than 6 years. But the ISFL gives to other members of the board, too, and is often seen hobnobbing at their campaign events, and assorted reindeer games.

This is what our school committee hath wrought. Showing zero leadership, even by the Chairman, his honor the Mayor, we’ve allowed the MASC – a quasi-public, hackdom – to keep our school system stuck in neutral.

The Mensa candidates at the MASC screwed up the search. They brought us totally unqualified candidates, and now in another stroke of genius, our school committee will task this group with conducting another search – all at taxpayer expense, of course – to probably find us another group of unqualified candidates.

What was it that Einstein defined as insanity?

This school committee is indeed conducting the same madness, and expecting a different result.

For the sake of our kids, for the sake of the taxpayers, isn’t it time that someone stepped up here and led? Isn’t it time that we tell the MASC no thanks, we’ll conduct our own search?

Or … maybe it’s time we FINALLY found some qualified and responsible people to run for mayor and school committee. For those reading this, take note that it is an election year.

And, if you run, maybe you’ll even be graced with a check signed by Herbie, who right now we suspect will be the interim now well past his 90th birthday.

15 Responses to “Definition of insanity? See Peabody School Committee”

  1. Glad My Kids Are Grown April 13, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

    While it is time to find some qualified and responsible people to lead the city, those same people wouldn’t have a prayer in an election, particularly for mayor. Levine maybe the ISFL, but everyone’s buddy Ted is PMFL (Permanent Mayor for Life) until he decides he doesn’t want to be. I can’t believe they are going to do this again though. What a freaking clown show. You have to admit though that $2k in six years is a small amount for Herb to pay out to keep the gravy train rolling. The overwhelming majority of voters though are so clueless they don’t even know about most of the crap that goes on and they like it that way. Ignorance is bliss and all that…

    • Could use Some Easy Money for my TAXES April 13, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      So true!!

    • Bob Croce April 13, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

      Oh, Herbie is “cute” with his money. If you throw in current school committee members, and one past member, in the past couple of election cycles, he’s made an additional almost $1,500 in contributions to the people he essentially works for. When you add it all up with what he’s given the mayor, it gets significant, especially when you consider that, before last year, you couldn’t legally give any candidate more than $500 in one year.

  2. Hack o Rama April 13, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    Herbie the hack strikes again. This guy keeps getting rich off the taxpayers while those dopes on the SC keep signing his checks. I work at the high school and Bob is right. Morale sucks up there. Certain admin bullies teachers and gets away with it while hack Herbie looks the other way.

  3. Jose April 13, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    School committee is incompetent and probably corrupt to. Shouldn’t it be against the rules for a superintendent to give money to people he works for?

  4. Bob Croce April 13, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    BTW, don’t take my word for it that Levine is one of the SC chairman’s biggest campaign contributors. Here’s the official report from the state:

    You’ll notice that he was also generous with Beverley Dunne when she ran for State Rep.

    If you want to see who Levine contributes to when it comes to school committee and city council candidates, the city candidate reports are here:

    Look, he’s contributing legally to these candidates. But shouldn’t it be considered unethical and made illegal? The people this guy is giving lots of campaign money to have the power to hire and fire superintendents. And now he gets another year?

    Smells like pay to play.

  5. John Olimpio, School Committee Member April 14, 2017 at 12:05 am #


    We received 30 applications, three applicants had previous superintendent experience, of the three, two were unemployed and one did not have a very good history, thank god for Google. I put my trust in MASC and I feel they posted the position in all the right places. I feel that if we created another subcommittee on our own this past fall it would have yielded the same applicants. The pool of applicants with superintendent experience is currently extremely thin to say the least. I voted to give a long look to what I thought were the top three candidates, this what we had to work with, in the end we lost two of them and I felt Ms. Ruggiero, although talented, lacked experience at this point for the position. MASC does not get paid unless we find someone. I understand the frustration, this has been eating at me for awhile, and I want a long-term solution as much as anybody and I believe that to be true from the other school committee members as well. I spoke the other night that I was disappointed with the lack of experience of the applicants, but we must think outside the box going forward, because I believe there will be good chance we will have the same pool of candidates in the fall. Anybody is free to call me to discuss further, thank you.

    • Bob Croce April 14, 2017 at 7:11 am #

      Thanks for your reply, and your dilligence, John.
      IMO, you’re doing a good job on the SC.

      But I still take issue with annyone saying that we should continue to trust in the MASC. Getting just 30 applicants overall for a job that — with benefits — pays more than $200K/year is NOT a good result.

      But you did put your finger on the problem here. You do need to get creative, and take a more innovative approach, and that means taking the process away from the MASC, and having people on the SC show some leadership now.

      Can’t really fault you guys for trying the MASC route, but I also feel that putting all of our eggs in that basket was a mistake, and will continue to be a mistake going forward. We really need to look at the process private sector companies use when seeking out senior executives:

      Many companies use executive serach consultants, but they also advertise using additional contacts and channels. Giving the MASC full control of the search process was a mistake.

      I appreciate you weighing in.

      Happy Easter.

      • Give me a break April 14, 2017 at 11:06 am #

        Bob do not let Olimipio off the hook here. I voted for the guy because I wanted him to break up the country club on the school committee. He needs to step up and be a voice of leadership but all I hear from are the hacks like Rossignoll and the PTO mom Brandi girl. They all want their good buddy Herbie the hack t keep robbing the taxpayers while he does a crappy job.Come on John speak up and stand for the change we wanted when we put you on that committee of hacks!!!!!!

    • Anonymous April 14, 2017 at 11:52 am #

      John instead of making comments here why not do the job we elected you to do. Stop kissing the asses of the so called veteran schooll committee people and beyour own man.

  6. Mookie April 14, 2017 at 7:39 am #

    Again I will put my 2 cents in. I can’t help but wonder that this whole exercise and then finally agreeing to give Dr. Levine another year was in the works all along. There is a
    op ed piece in the Lynn Item today in regards to Mrs. Ruggiero. In addition there is comment that states “people in the know anticipate he (Dr. Levine) will mentor an experienced veteran educator now working in the Peabody school system to become a superintendent candidate once a search resumes”.
    I have heard this same information going back a year. I also heard that the committee/Dr. Levine, etc. were waiting for this candidate to finish the appropriate education in order to apply. If this is true then one would tend to believe that the committee is not looking outside for a replacement super in earnest.

    Perhaps Mr. Olimpio could comment on this.

    Thank you.

    • Give me a break April 14, 2017 at 11:11 am #

      GREAT!!!!! The good old boy and girl hackoframa continues. Tme for this mayor to go too if this iswhat they are planning

  7. Anonymous April 14, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    Dunn, Rossy and Brandi want Levine to stay as long as possible. So does the mayor. He is their boy and he is making a fortune off us while the sschools go down the toilet. No surprises here.

  8. Anonymous April 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    Here is my issue, where is the long term plan for the schools? They don’t have one because Levine plays the game that he is only here for a short time and doesn’t want to create something someone has to take over…The HS has been a level 3 school while he has been the superintendent and no body blinks an eye…They just talk about all the AP courses….well the school is still a level three no matter how many AP course there are. I feel the SC is complicit with keeping him bc he knows how to spin the worst issues. Look at what happened to that instructor at the West that has the lawsuit with the city….she goes against the machine to do the right thing and they fire her for certifications they never told her she had to get? That’s how it untouchable this guy thinks he is..

    So how is this guy able to run a school district when he is the President of another company based on State filings.

    Also, he is the Executive Director for NE Superintendents organization and you are telling me that he personally can’t find his replacement? It’s all bullshit and he this committee needs to be called out for it. With his relationships and his position he could find this city the right candidate locally IF he wanted to. PEABODY WAKE UP!!!!

  9. Peabody Parent April 14, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

    I used to work for the City of Peabody in the public school system. I saw firsthand the nepotism that occurs. I voted for Olimpio and Amico, hoping that change would be a good thing. One of my children is in a Peabody school, but contemplating a change for high school. The whole superintendent process is a sham. Dr. Levine is fine, but the money we are paying out to him is INSANE.

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