Published in the May 18, 2016 edition


LYNNFIELD — An unexpected and at times contentious debate erupted at the end of last week’s School Committee meeting over the school board’s plan to appoint High School Assistant Principal Kevin Cyr as the director of teaching and learning.

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), school committees are legally required to appoint superintendents, assistant/associate superintendents, business managers, special education directors, school physicians and registered nurses, legal counsel and supervisors of attendance.

Hayman said he supported Tremblay’s decision to appoint Cyr as the director of teaching and learning but said the School Committee should not be appointing Cyr because he is a director and not an assistant superintendent. He said Tremblay should have made the appointment.

“School committees appoint superintendents, assistant superintendents and associate superintendents,” said Hayman. “I am not clear why we are voting on this.”

School Committee Vice Chairwoman Dorothy Presser said it was appropriate for the school board to approve Cyr’s hiring because he is “going to be on the same level as our business manager and special education director.”

Hayman disagreed.

“This is not an assistant superintendent position,” said Hayman. “We went through so many meetings where Jane was asked if this is an assistant superintendent position, and it was always made clear this was not an assistant superintendent.”

School Committee Chairman Tim Doyle disagreed with Hayman.

“I made the decision after talking with Jane and Dorothy that a central office position needs approval from the School Committee,” said Doyle. “You can call the position what you want, but the reality is it has elements of what the statute defines.”

School Committee member Salvatore Cammarata agreed with Doyle and Presser’s point of view the school board should appoint Cyr because he will be working in the central office.

Hayman stressed he believes Cyr “will do a great job in the position,” but said he was not buying Doyle and Presser’s argument.

“My concern is we worked very hard to get this position in the budget and we were asked if this was an assistant superintendent position,” said Hayman. “And we said no.”

While Tremblay did not interject herself into the debate, she stressed Cyr’s job will be completely different than an assistant superintendent.

“It is a central office position and not a building–based position,” said Tremblay. “I want to clarify the difference between this position and an assistant superintendent, and the reason why I did not call this an assistant superintendent in the budget season. Kevin is going to be in the schools and working with teachers, curriculum directors, administrators and, to some degree, working with students. In my eyes, an assistant superintendent will not do that. An assistant superintendent will be in the office working with me on protocols and policy. This position is rooted in the buildings but it’s a position directly under me.”

Hayman agreed with Tremblay. He said approving Cyr as the director of teaching and learning “goes in the face of what we publicly stated when we got this position approved.”

“I think we have to think long and hard because we supported this position and pushed it,” Hayman continued. “I think we have the right person for the position but I don’t want to give the impression we asked for one thing and now we are trying to approve it as another thing.”

Presser disagreed.

“I don’t think we are,” said Presser. “We are approving a position based on the job description that was given to us. It’s a level that is high enough and we should exercise our right to approve it.”

After the debate, Doyle, Presser, Cammarata and committeeman Rich Sjoberg voted to appoint Cyr while Hayman abstained.

In a phone interview with the Villager, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.) Executive Director Tom Scott said the School Committee’s insistence on appointing Cyr as the director of teaching and learning was unusual.

“It’s not typical that school committees will interview and appoint a director, but sometimes titles matter to the public,” said Scott. “There are occasions where a school committee will want to approve a candidate who will be working under a superintendent, but most don’t do that.”