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Brockton

Deputy named as interim school chief

Deputy named as interim school chief

A longtime Brockton school administrator with deep ties to the city has been named interim superintendent of the 16,500-student school district, as its current chief prepares to leave for the state’s top education post.

John Jerome, the current deputy superintendent and Brockton’s former executive director of teaching and learning for grades 6 to 8, easily won the vote of the city School Committee Wednesday as the panel reorganized its leadership and also accepted the resignation of outgoing Superintendent Matthew Malone.  

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Malone was tapped by Governor Deval Patrick  on Dec. 13 to replace Paul Reville as state secretary of education. Malone’s last day in Brockton is Jan. 13.  

“John Jerome knows our schools, and he knows our community,” said Mayor Linda M. Balzotti, who is also chairwoman of the School Committee. “With more than 40 years of experience in the Brockton public schools, John will continue our commitment to excellence, and I know our students and their families will be in great hands.’’

Jerome, 64, was a finalist for the job in 2009 when Malone, 42, the former head of the Swampscott School District, was offered a five-year, $1 million contract.

At the time, Jerome said he relates deeply to the city, where he was a 34-year resident before moving to Easton. Jerome said he is glad to take over the district’s helm temporarily but will not be seeking the job permanently.

“I’m really excited,’’ he said in an interview on Thursday. “It’s all about keeping the district moving forward.”

‘With more than 40 years of experience in the Brockton public achools, John will continue our commitment to excellence.’

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He began his Brockton career in 1971 as a Grade 6 teacher at the Goddard School. He then taught elementary and middle school classes, and served the sprawling urban district as its grant writer for two decades.

He graduated from Westfield State University with a bachelor’s degree in education and earned a master’s degree in education and administration from Bridgewater State University. 

Jerome said among his goals as interim superintendent are to help the district complete state-mandated retraining of teachers who work with children whose first language is not English. He will also focus on a new districtwide teacher evaluation system, he said.

School Committee vice chairman Thomas Minichiello, of Ward 1, who was reelected on Wednesday, said Glenn Koocher, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, will offer a tutorial at the committee’s Jan. 15 meeting of the district’s options as it begins the search for a new superintendent.

For now, he said Jerome is the right person at the right time who has the full confidence of the entire committee.

“John is a great guy,’’ Minichiello said. “He knows the ins and outs and has been a very good deputy for Matt.’’

Jerome had planned to retire, but he told committee members he will help out as long as needed, Minichiello said. His salary is still to be negotiated.

“This shows the community that there is good leadership at the top and Brockton will continue to do great things,’’ he said.

Malone, who lives in Roslindale, was active in Brockton and attended many functions, but never set up a full-time home there. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Boston College, and was characterized by Patrick as being a passionate advocate for closing the achievement gap after leading “turnaround” efforts in Boston and San Diego.

Patrick described Malone and other new secretaries in a December statement as “the real deal” and said they come to their new positions with the expertise, talent, respect, and vision to achieve a bold agenda over the next two years.

Malone’s time in Brockton was often contentious, and he developed an uneasy relationship with the school board. They frequently clashed over issues, from communication skills to his lack of full-time residency, an executive requirement.

Last fall, Malone and Minichiello announced what they said was a mutual decision to part ways a year before Malone’s contract was up. The deal was struck after the seven-member committee gave Malone a composite review score of 2.77 out of 5  for his third year at the helm of the state’s fourth-largest public school.  

When he was hired, School Committee member Patricia Joyce, one of Malone’s most ardent supporters, predicted that the young superintendent she characterized as a “rock star” would be elevated to a state post within 10 years. As it turned out, it came true six years early.

Recently, Malone said he felt he was innovative in bringing changes in learning, infrastructure, crisis management, and in stronger relationships with unions and community groups to the former mill city. “I did a good job, and I leave with no ill will,’’ he said at the time.

Jerome said the state job is a great opportunity not only for Malone, but also for Brockton, since it’s always good to have friends in high places.

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at michelebolton@live.com.
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