UPDATE: Milton, Dedham school committees name Marblehead assistant superintendent finalist for districts’ top jobs

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Marblehead Assistant Superintendent Nan Murphy is one of three finalists for the position of school superintendent in Milton, the town’s School Committee announced at an open meeting Tuesday, Dec. 21.

Around the same time, the Dedham School Committee was announcing Murphy as one of five finalists in its superintendent search.

The other finalists in Milton are Assistant Superintendent of Medford Public Schools  Peter Cushing and Superintendent of the Addison Central School District in Middlebury, Vermont Peter Burrows.

The other four finalists in Dedham are Marlene DiLeo, current superintendent of Ware Public Schools; Renee McCall, currently assistant superintendent of the Newton Public Schools; Armand Pires, current superintendent of the Medway Public Schools; and June Saba-Maguire, current assistant superintendent of the Brockton Public Schools.

Marblehead Assistant Superintendent Nan Murphy. COURTESY PHOTO / VIA NAN MURPHY’S TWITTER

Milton School Committee plans next to interview the finalists in a Jan. 4 meeting, the committee’s vice chair, Ada Rosmarin, said on Wednesday night.

“The School Committee will meet on Zoom at 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 6 to deliberate about the candidates and make a decision about who to select for our next superintendent,” Rosmarin said. “Our goal is to find the best candidate for the next superintendent, and we’re excited about finding out who that person will be to lead the district forward.”

Meanwhile, the five Dedham finalists are expected to visit the district in early January. Those visits will include in-person, public interviews with School Committee members in the evening.

Dedham community members are invited to provide feedback through Jan. 16 on each candidate through online forms on the School Committee’s superintendent search page, where the candidates’ resumes are also posted.

After spending a year working for the Department of Education, Murphy arrived in Marblehead in the summer of 2020, hired by then incoming Superintendent John Buckey and former interim Superintendent William McAlduff.

Prior to working at the Department of Education, Murphy spent eight and a half years in Lowell, the first six and a half years as principal of the McAuliffe School. Under Murphy’s leadership, the school made strong academic gains, transitioning from being an urban “high needs level 3” school to “level 1” in just three years. 

She then went on to become the district’s director of accountability and school improvement.

This past spring, Murphy was also a finalist for superintendent’s jobs in Tewksbury and Marlborough, but in each of those cases, the school committees in those communities decided to stay “in house” and promote someone already working in their districts to the top job.

However, Murphy did garner the lone dissenting vote in Marlborough, from the school board’s chair.

Milton is in the final stages of what the town’s school board described as an “expedited” search for new leadership after the resignation in November of former Superintendent James Jette.

Jette had been on paid administrative leave since July following his arrest on a domestic violence charge, which was later dropped.

Dedham has seen its share of drama in its schools recently as well, centering on the high school’s football coach, David Flynn, who lost his job after he raised questions about lessons on race and bias that were being taught to his daughter in her seventh-grade social studies class.

As part of the settlement of Flynn’s subsequent lawsuit, outgoing Superintendent Michael J. Welch wrote Flynn a letter “acknowledg[ing] and validat[ing]” his concerns. The letter noted that the episode between Flynn and the district had resulted in the creation of a curriculum advisory committee as well as a new rule: Teachers would no longer be able to use a Black Lives Matter t-shirt emoji virtually or wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts in the classroom.

“[W]hat happens next will be someone else’s headache,” Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi wrote in a September essay recounting the saga.

Murphy’s status as a finalist raises the prospect that Marblehead may need to replace two top school administrators. Just one day earlier, Marblehead High School Principal Dan Bauer was announced as a finalist for the superintendent job in Danvers.

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