Lawrence School Committee submits Petition to DESE to end the Receivership
Addressed to Commissioner Jeffrey Riley
Lawrence, MA – On Monday, November 1st, the Lawrence School Committee submitted their signed petition to the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Jeffrey C. Riley, to demand an end to the State Receivership over the Lawrence Public Schools (LPS).
The petition follows ten years of Receivership, where the Lawrence Public Schools has been designated as an underperforming district, the community-voice has been removed, and the on-going altercations at the Lawrence High School have been happening since the beginning of the school year.
Early last month, Mayor and Chair of the Lawrence School Committee, Kendrys Vasquez, called for an Emergency Joint Meeting of the School Committee and City Council to address the on-going altercations and the state of the Receivership. The meeting – which was held on October 18th and was attended by hundreds of concerned family members, students, teachers and other community members – included a motion by School Committee Member, Joshua Alba, to have the Committee utilize their right to petition DESE to remove themselves and the Receivership Board, known as the Lawrence Alliance for Education (LAE), from the Lawrence Public Schools.
“What we heard at that Joint Meeting was what we, as education justice activists, have been hearing for years now in the background, beneath the propaganda of a successful school district,” said School Committee Member Joshua Alba. “I’m excited that we made our community’s concerns public and that we started the process towards democracy.”
“AFT Lawrence fully supports the School Committee’s petition to end Receivership,” said Kim Barry, Suzanne Suliveras, and Vivian Bonet, the presidents of the three AFT unions that represent LPS teachers, paraprofessionals, and clerks respectively. “After ten years of control by a state agency far removed from our community, the time to restore local control is now. We can better meet our students’ needs when families, educators, and community members once again have a formal voice in how our schools are run.”
The petition listed direct requests for the transition back to local control. Listed were: joint meetings between the appointed Lawrence Alliance for Education and the elected Lawrence School Committee for the remainder of the LAE’s existence; the Superintendent returns to the Mayor’s weekly Department Head Meetings as prescribed in the duties as head of the school department; and for DESE to devise and produce a transition plan out of LPS in coordination with the School Committee, to be presented to the public on September 1st, 2022, and to be made effective no later than September 1st, 2023.
“Seeing that there has not been significant enough improvement to justify the Receivership’s continuation, it is time to bring back local control to the community via their elected School Committee,” said Mayor Kendrys Vasquez.
The petition was signed by Chair, Mayor Kendrys Vasquez, Enrique Matos of District B, Rafaela Pichardo of District C, Joshua Alba of District D, and Jonathan Guzman of District F. Vice Chair and School Committee Member for District E, Patricia Mariano, had abstained from the vote on October 18th and was not included to sign the petition as Mariano also sits on the LAE Receivership board and would have been considered a conflict of interest.