|For Immediate Release|
|Monday, June 23, 1997|
|Contact:||Public Affairs Office|
Commissioner of Education Appoints Independent Fact Finding Team For Lawrence Public School
Malden - Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci today announced that he has appointed a five-member fact-finding team to report on the reasons for poor performance in the Lawrence Public Schools and prospects for improvement.
The Commissioner has asked the team to report their findings to him in early August, prior to the August 15 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Education
Massachusetts law requires the Commissioner to appoint an independent fact-finding team once the state Board of Education finds that a school district has consistently failed to improve the performance of students attending schools in that district. The Board of Education on Monday, June 16 unanimously found that there is evidence of chronic under-performance in Lawrence.
This finding was based on the June 12 report of the Massachusetts Auditor on questionable financial practices and spending decisions by Lawrence school officials, the loss of the Lawrence High School's accreditation in March, the Massachusetts Department of Education's review of district compliance with state and federal program requirements, and the district's test scores, dropout and attendance rates.
"This team will complete its work in an efficient and comprehensive manner. They will review all of the data we have available and will also be on site in Lawrence to gather additional information as necessary. I am confident that this work will be conducted professionally and with the full cooperation of local officials," Commissioner Antonucci said.
Under law, the team will look at the effectiveness of school district leadership, curriculum, teacher training, district fiscal accountability practices, and other matters that the Commissioner and team find to be significant.
After reviewing the report and giving local officials and members of the public an opportunity to be heard, the Board will decide whether to declare Lawrence chronically under-performing. If this declaration occurs, the Board will designate a receiver to act in place of the Lawrence school superintendent and school committee.
The members appointed by Dr. Antonucci are:
- Robert Addelson, Finance Director for the Town of Needham. He formerly worked as chief of municipal data management for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. In that role, one of his responsibilities was serving as Chairman of the Lawrence Fiscal Oversight Board reviewing all city finance matters.
- Juliane Dow, Legal Counsel, Massachusetts Department of Education. She was instrumental in developing the Massachusetts regulations for under-performing schools, and is the Department's legal expert in regard to the Education Reform foundation budget formula. She formerly worked as a Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General.
- Manthala (Matt) George, Jr., who served as Superintendent of the Brockton Public Schools from 1984 to his retirement in December, 1994. He has more than 30 years experience in public education in Brockton, a large urban school district.
- Frank W. Haydu III, Chairman of Haydu and Lind of Wellesley, developer of senior living projects. He formerly was a member of the Massachusetts Board of Education, founder of Wesray Capital Corp., managing director of Kidder Peabody, and served as the interim CEO of the New England Medical Center.
- Vidal Perez, Rhode Island state liaison to the Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University. He formerly was Director of the Latino Family Services Unit of Family Service, Inc. In Providence, RI. Fluent in Spanish, he co-chaired the Rhode Island Governor's Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs from 1991 to 1994.