The Boston School Committee has approved a new interim superintendent of Boston Public Schools after Tommy Chang’s recent departure from the position.
The committee unanimously approved Laura Perille to temporarily take over the role. Perille previously served as the president and CEO of EdVestors, a Boston-based nonprofit that works to “strengthen school effectiveness so a quality education is available to every student.”
EdVestors launched in 2002 under Perille and has since invested more than $26 million to improve urban schools. While serving as interim BPS superintendent, Perille, a parent of a BPS student, will take a leave of absence from the nonprofit.
“There is no higher priority for us than the education of our students, and that is why it is so important to find the right person to continue moving our schools and our students forward during this transition," Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. "I am confident that we have found that person in Laura Perille.”
Though Laura has never run a school, and is currently not licensed by the state to be a superintendent, according to the Boston Globe, Walsh praised her “proven record of being a strong partner and advocate for Boston's school system.”
Perille has also been on a number of civic committees including the External Advisory Committee on School Choice (2012 to 2013) where she was charged with redesigning Boston's student assignment system; the Education Transition Team for Mayor Walsh (2013 to 2014) and the Superintendent Search Committee (2014 to 2015) for Boston Public Schools.
Despite the school committees’ unanimous support, Perille has already faced some criticism after having been appointed. Four minority-rights groups spoke out against the interim superintendent in a statement.
“We read the priorities for the interim superintendent as articulated by the Mayor and his nominee, [and] none of them are intentionally focused on teaching and learning. While we appreciate the need for a smooth school opening, that is only one of the major jobs of the superintendent,” reads the letter signed by the NAACP Boston Branch, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, Boston Network for Black Student Achievement and the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts. Leadership needs to focus, the groups say, on closing the opportunity and achievement gap.
“The mayor called for a strong, experienced and proven leader for BPS, yet has endorsed someone with no school or district leadership experience or credentials for interim superintendent in the BPS,” the letter continued. “The School Committee should immediately release a timeline for the permanent superintendent search, and move expeditiously to begin the recruitment and selection process.”
Perille has 90 days to receive a provisional superintendent license, the Globe reported, which requires, according to the state, a bachelor’s degree and the passing of a communication and literacy skills test.