Hand-picked candidate looms; Peabody Super search a sham?

14 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

It’s a theory now being pushed forward that is both believable and typical of certain politicians in our depressed little burg.


Your next Superintendent of Schools!

You think that the Mayor and most members of Peabody’s School Committee are upset over the recent superintendent search ending in disaster when not a single, qualified candidate was put forth?

Well, think again.

I think the fix is in, and so do several political “spies” I’ve heard from in a covert op I’ll simply call “BiddyLeaks.”

Here’s what I’ll say: I don’t think that School Committee members Rossignol, Carpenter, Amico, and maybe others are upset at all that the recent superintendent search ended in disaster.

Why? Well, first off it gives their good buddy Herbie Levine, who we like to call Interim Super for Life (ISFL), the ability to cash in on another year of his giant salary while going through the motions of the job.

But … it also gives them another year to position Herbie’s protégé as his heir apparent.

That’s right, we hear that the Mayor would be thrilled if current Assistant Superintendent Cara Murtagh got the job in a year. In fact, one BiddyLeaks spy tells me the Mayor might even already have a little “unofficial,” wink, wink, nod, nod agreement here with Cara.

Now, I don’t know anything about Ms. Murtagh, and whether or not she has the right stuff to handle the complex nature of our school system and its $72m-plus budget, so I’m not about to impugn her at this time.

But you should know that this is one reason why the most-recent search for a new superintendent was a total sham. And if there are further searches going forward, they too will be sham exercises at taxpayer expense.

Wait it out a year is their mantra. That way, we can get our mediocre ISFL one more year of fat paychecks, and at the end we can say that he used his “scary great” superintendent talents to mentor Ms. Murtagh into the next generation of super supers.

Of course, in the end, it’s all likely to be a bunch of BS as the Mayor moves another super he can manipulate into the chair, and we all go on as before.

Yaaaay! Mediocre (or worse) schools R Us!

La-dee, freekin’ dah!

So, if you’re laying bets on who the next Peabody super will be … put a bunch on the ISFL’s protégé.

25 Responses to “Hand-picked candidate looms; Peabody Super search a sham?”

  1. Anonymous April 14, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    She is TOTALLY not qualified! We also need to move on from Levine. He is mailing it in and things are getting worse in the schools by the day. Did you know that the high school was only a short few steps from being taken over by the state. It’s rough up there on bunch of levels.

    • Vote out April 18, 2017 at 11:52 am #

      Blame the Principle and the Administration of the High School for that mess, not Levine.

      • Bob Croce April 18, 2017 at 11:59 am #

        You’re just wrong when you write that. EVERYTHING that happens in the Peabody School System is the responsibility of the Superintendent. He is the one accountable. If it’s the principal’s fault, why doesn’t Herb do something about the principal?

        We pulled Herb out of retirement. He’s collecting a huge pension (which he earned) and more than $160K/year to be Peabody’s super.

        Yet … he is going through the motions, and being a go along to get along when it comes to the Mayor and members of the SC. He’s best buds with all of them. I stand by the fact that it’s incredible to me, and I feel most other taxpayers, that we can’t find a qualified candidate for a $200K EDUCATION job.

  2. #LoveThisCity April 15, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    We’ve had 6 (maybe more, I’ve lost count) supers since moving here in ’94. Is Cara qualified? I have no idea but I’m going to assume that as asst super she is either working toward those qualifications or already has them. The Murtaghs are a Peabody family. I hope that if she becomes super she stays in Peabody for a good long time. Part of the problem we have is in my first sentence – 6 +/- superintendents in 23 years. That’s 1 every few years. Herb has kept the status quo which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It beats changing things every few years. I was hoping the former HMS principal Melissa Matarazzo was on the short list. We don’t pay for the MASC search unless we hire someone. Neither of my kids went to PVMHS but their friends who did had nothing but positive experiences & went on to some great colleges. It’s not all bad in Peabody Public Schools.

    • Anonymous April 15, 2017 at 10:31 am #

      No it is not all bad but the high school is a total mess. It is close to being taken over by the state because Levine goes through the motions and does not do the job we are paying him a huge sum to do. He is buddies with people on the school committee like Rossignoll and Carpenter and the mayor so he does not ever lose the job. If Cara is being trained by him we should want nothing to do with her becoming superintendent.

      • #LoveThisCity April 15, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

        I’m not sure what you mean by close to being taken over by the stafe – because of its physical condition or MCAS scores? I would hope our elected officials are holding him accountable for some things up there. As I said, mine didn’t go to PVMHS but their friends had good experiences.

    • Mookie April 18, 2017 at 7:27 am #

      Please let me know who the 6 qualified supers are since 1994? You do realize that some were asked to leave before their contract expired and they were still paid for the term of the contract. You mention that Dr. Levine has kept the status quo? WHAT! What isn’t bad about it. This school committee keeps asking him to stay and he’d be a fool not to.

      You also realize that Dr. Levine is an interim super. He retired. He’s collecting a pension in addition to a nice paycheck from the city. He knows he’s not in it for the long haul. What has he got to lose? Nothing.
      Why ruffle feathers, he doesn’t. Did you not read the post from a teacher at the high school?
      In regards to Ms. Murtagh, yes she is a lovely person. The Murtaghs being a lovely family does not a Superintendent make. Working toward qualifications does not a qualified Superintendent make.

      Lastly, you sing the praises of Peabody High yet you are quick to point out that you didn’t send you kids there. Why?
      I’m glad their friends had positive experiences. All 3 of my children as well as myself went to Pea. High. My children all recd. the Abigail Adams Scholarship. I credit their success to each of them. They took AP classes, were in honor classes and did their work.
      My children as well as my husband and I in addition to our friends and their children experienced the good and not so good of all of the Peabody Schools. Something needs to be done of that we all agree.
      We do not agree in the way it has been done in the past and appears to continue. Wasting time and energy looking for a super when perhaps we(the school committee) know who we’d like but need to bide our time.

      • #LoveThisCity April 18, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

        I never said qualified or permanent. While I can’t remember all of their names, there was the guy who served under Torigian for years then Lou Perullo, an interim for one year, Milt Burnett, Joe M & now Levine. I feel like I’m missing one but maybe not. Yes I do realize Levine is an interim – does that mean we don’t count him? He’s acting Super which means he’s counted.

        Why didn’t my kids go to PVMHS you ask? Because the Aggie & now the Tech have better vocational classes for their interests.

        So your kids did well at PVMHS due to them taking AP & honors classes. You do realize that it is thanks to the SC & administration that PVMHS has one of the highest #s of AP courses available compared to area schools, right? Or did you just think they magically appeared on the curriculum?

        I guess I’m confused as to why you’re unhappy with PVMHS when your kids seemed to have gotten an education there that they can be proud of. While I agree 100% that you get out of it what you put in, without the aforementioned classes and teachers to teach them, your kids may not have achieved the Adams scholarship.

        Lastly, which post are you taking about? I don’t see any where the writer identifies as a teacher.

      • Mookie April 19, 2017 at 7:27 am #

        Love this City

        reread your reply of April 15, 2017 at 8:24am. You use the words qualified and qualifications. In addition you state you hope Ms. Murtagh becomes the super and stays a good long time. That sounds permanent to me.

        In regards to previous supers you missed the all time favorite. Dr. Nadine Binkley. Need I say more.

        In regards to AP courses at the HS. In my opinion Pea. High offers way to many AP courses. In addition do your research. Teachers that teach an AP course are paid extra in addition to their salary.
        In addition, Parents pay for the student to take the AP exam in the spring. The fee is not inexpensive. There are no thanks to the School Committee in regards to the AP courses. Administration administers the curriculum, etc. Also, the School Committee for years have overstepped their duties and gone beyond the purview of what they were elected to do.

        Yes my children did well academically in the Peabody Schools. As you know academics are only one facet of education. Lastly, do your research in regards to the Abigail Adams Scholarship. This is administered by the State of Massachusetts. Please visit the Mass.Gov website for this information.

        In regards to the comment by a Peabody teacher please read Bob Croce’s April 13, 2017 article “Definition of Insanity”. It’s on the eyeonpeabody website directly below this article. Then read the comment from Hack o Rama. The rest is self explanatory.

  3. Seen This Coming April 15, 2017 at 8:33 pm #

    I could say a lot. But I will not. Sorry state of affairs in the City of Peabody.

    We, Own it!. Look in the Mirror !!

    • Bob April 15, 2017 at 10:36 pm #

      Peabody is a mess right now for sure, Seen. And its only going to get worse. Sad.

      • #LoveThisCity April 18, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

        There is always room for improvement but I challenge any of you to show a city of our size that is so much better you would move there.

  4. Nick April 15, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

    Would have preferred a one-year contract with Ruggiero to another year of our hack interim super. She showed passion and has a proven track record of turning around schools. Could have found an Assistant Superintendent/Principal to offset her lack of high school experience.

    • Bob April 15, 2017 at 10:34 pm #

      You’re probably right, Nick. And Levine is definitely the worst kind of political “hack.”

  5. Vote out April 18, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    Again, I could careless what Brandi Carpenter thinks. Her word carries no weight. If you can’t send your kid to Peabody High, you have NO RIGHT to be on the School Committee making choices for the kids and parents of Peabody. I unlike you, think Levine has done a good job. Overpaid? Maybe. But, he is doing what is needed in order for the kids,parents and teachers of Peabody to succeed.

    • Mookie April 18, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

      First of all it is principal not principle. How to remember, the principal is your pal.

      That being said, what do you have to back up your statement “he is doing what is needed for for the kids, parents and teachers of Peabody to succeed”?

      If this is success then I would hate to see failure.

    • Nick April 18, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

      Didn’t know that about Brandi – Where does She send her kids?

    • #LoveThisCity April 18, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

      I’m pretty sure Brandi’s oldest goes to PVMHS and her others are in Peabody Schools.

  6. Marty C April 21, 2017 at 8:46 am #

    I’m going to regret this because my policy is to stay out of politics but this is wrong. We have an assistant Superintendant. One I have worked with as a part of management in another city department. Is it not one of the duties of a superintendant to mentor and groom his/her assistant to one day take over? The problem in this city is that it operates as a political machine, always has. It’s not about ability, but rather compatability. I can tell you as a person with seven close relatives who are teachers that you can do far worse than Cara Murtagh. Nobody puts more time and effort into their job. She puts the kids first, then her staff and then the parents who tend to be most of your problems. I would never consider teaching unless it was in an orphanage with no sports program. Let’s start making decisions on sound business practices. Let’s let the managers manage. Let’s put politics aside on this one. If “they” are stalling to allow Cara to elevate then I suggest it might be worth the wait. She may not be ready for the job, as I am in no position to know that, but certainly deserves to be considered.

  7. CH Post April 24, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    Marty C I disagree with you.
    The staff hates murtagh! She does not have the respect of the teaching staff!!!
    She should have not been hired in the first place.
    Joe M was a good Superintendent for Peabody and accomplished much in a short period of time but hiring murtagh was his worst move. ( but he probably was forced to hire her).

    This fail searched and the Levine mess fails squarely on the lack of leadership skills of the Mayor.

    He just can’t manage the inept School Committee especially carpenter and rossignol!

  8. Nick April 26, 2017 at 12:17 am #

    Anyone know the real reason for why Joe M resigned/was fired? Were the executive session mintues ever released?

  9. Lud99 April 26, 2017 at 7:31 am #

    Murtagh is average at best. They should give the job to Eric Buckey. At least he knows the in and outs of the city.

    Levine is not ever going to leave. He will stay on as a consultant.

    Anyone know how he gets away with this?

    • Anonymous June 5, 2017 at 11:40 am #

      Eric Buckley would be disastrous as asst. supt. Just like he is a disastrous principal at the high school.

  10. Clueless in Peabody April 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    PVMHS should be doing the musical “MusicMan”. Then maybe Peabody would get What is going on in this city!! From the School Committee to the Corner Office…. Clueless and could Care Less are our curses.

  11. salie12 May 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    School Committee members continue use personal agenda and private deals and VIOLATE the open meeting law!!!!!
    And there are four, yes four , lawyers on the board ( well 3, you really can’t count Dunne) !

    When is our city going to wake up and support our kids!

    Peabody , where average is acceptable!!!!!!

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