Laura Perille will not seek the job as the next superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, but will use her time as the interim leader to make what she described as “unpopular decisions” that are needed to address the “equity emergency’’ in the city’s school system.
She wrote about her decision not to apply for the full-time superintendent’s post, which became vacant earlier this year with the resignation of Tommy Chang, in an op-ed piece published in The Boston Globe Tuesday.
Perille, with the backing of Mayor Martin J. Wash, was named interim superintendent by the Boston School Committee on July 2. She was never a classroom teacher or principal and did not have the state license needed to hold the job of superintendent when she took over.
Perille has since obtained that license, but last month a group of nearly a dozen educators, parents, and civil rights groups demanded that she not be a candidate for the job. Critics feared that no solid candidate would seek the job because Perille would be seen as the inevitable winner.
In the op-ed, Perille said otherwise.
“From the time of my appointment it has been readily apparent that there are some difficult choices that will need to be made about the future of our schools,’’ she wrote. “Fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to me will require a relentless focus that is free from both perceptions of self-interest and unnecessary distractions . . . I will not be submitting my name as a candidate.’’
Jane Miller, a Roslindale parent of three BPS students who urged Perille not to apply for the job, applauded her for publicly declaring she won’t be a candidate. Miller also said she appreciates Perille’s decision to serve as interim head so that she can “implement enormous change and then get out.”
But, Miller said, she was disappointed that Perille used an op-ed column in the Globe as the venue for the announcement, which is of great interest to the families of 50,000 BPS students, some of whom may not read the Globe or subscribe to the Globe.
“I personally thank her for what she has done,’’ Miller said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “If we are going to make these enormous changes, and this is how we are going to engage people by using the media instead of talking directly to stakeholders — that makes me nervous.”
In her opinion piece, Perille signaled that she won’t be a passive caretaker during her tenure and will instead actively push forward with the Walsh administration’s BuildBPS initiative that is designed to invest in school buildings and new educational pathways for students. “This infrastructure investment program will address the future shape of our district — not just with new and expanded buildings, but also with pathways and programs for students in response to what currently amounts to nothing short of an equity emergency,’’ she wrote. “This ambitious work may at times require unpopular decisions.”
She wrote that the revamping of the system must “put student interests before adult preferences. If we do this, BPS will be a better school system, and Boston will be a better city.”