School Committee Chair Weighs in on Recent Superintendent Evaluation
After his speedy appointment of Lexington High's next principal earlier this year, the School Committee's evaluation of Superintendent Paul Ash was, for the first time, seen as a “mixed review.”
At a recent meeting, the Lexington School Committee delivered its annual evaluation of Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash. Although most of the review was favorable, as it has been in the past, this year's review included some criticism from comminttee causing Chairwoman Margret Coppe to label the evaluation as a “mixed review.”
According to Coppe's overall assessment of the evaluation, Ash earned, “all A's and some B's." However, “part of [School Committee's concernt] was, one incident in particular where we had to agree to disagree with Dr. Ash," Coppe said in an inverview.
The “agree to disagree” issue dealt with what some of the School Committee and members of the public saw as a hasty appointment of Laura Lasa, currently the assistant principal at Lexington High, as the school's principal next year. Ash made this decision just hours before a School Committee meeting, and some school officials said an email announcement that afternoon was the first they heard of Lasa's appointment.
Lasa will be filling the position eft vacant by Natalie Cohen, who is retiring at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
Instead of going through what has become the normal channels of consulting the School Committee on any hirings, even sometimes going as far as to vote for a study to be done to assess who is best suited to fill a particular position, Ash appointed Lasa on his own accord. At the time, Ash explained his decision to eschew the normal process was driven by his firm believe that Lasa is the right person for the job.
Although such actions fall within his purview -- the superintendent tasked with all personnel hiring except Assistant Superintendent and Director of SPED programs -- Ash was criticized by the School Committee and members of the public as to why he made the hasty decision and why he didn't go through with what has come to be accepted as the regular channels of operation for hiring.
“He had to hire a new principal, and Laura was the assistant and he wanted to hire her," Coppe said. "And for whatever reason, he had to do it quickly. It was surprising he didn't use a search committee, but I do think it's a good appointment.”
The Lasa appointment appears to be indicative of the communication breakdown among the superintendent, the School Committee and the public.
“I think this was just a one time thing that was unfortunate and I'd be surprised if he did something like this again,” said Coppe. “I think these were unusual circumstances, but I don't really know.”
Reached by Patch last week, Ash agreed to address the issues after he returns from two weeks spent overseas, which will coincide with the evaluation being formerly submitted by Coppe.
In an email to Patch, Ash explained that position.
“On Tuesday evening, the individual members of the School Committee commented on my performance," Ash wrote. "For example, Margaret Coppe said I am an 'outstanding educational leader.' On the other hand, Jesse Steigerwald was more critical of my performance. Since I work for the entire School Committee, I need to wait until I receive the School Committee's overall evaluation before I can comment.”