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As superintendent resigns, Marblehead resident launches bid for school committee

Posted by Terri Ogan  March 26, 2013 06:00 PM

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Marblehead resident Jennifer Williams left her Prospect Street home around noon last Saturday on a mission.

With her husband Jeff and son Conor, 15, behind her, she embarked on a two-hour trek in the surrounding neighborhood to get enough signatures for a spot on the School Committee ballot.

After Superintendent Greg Maass announced his shocking resignation last Thursday night at a School Committee meeting, Williams decided that things need to change, and she won’t sit around any longer.

“Everybody believes there’s room for improvement,” Williams said. “It has been very humbling to see all the neighbors come together and have this common focus of how our district should be.

“My friends and I all have similar concerns that we don’t know if this is a board that needs to be completely turned over because they can’t work together or if this is a board that needs strategic replacements.”

Williams moved to Marblehead about three years ago from Michigan and has two children in the school system; one at the high school and one at the Veterans Middle School.

“When we moved here I noticed some things that gave me a little pause like actions of the School Committee,” Williams said. “I thought, ‘Well gosh, my eldest son has had three principals in a few years.’ There’s been a lot of turnover.”

Within five minutes of last Thursday’s School Committee meeting, Maass shocked the town by announcing his resignation.

Maass had served as superintendent for two years and had one year left in his contract.

In an interview last week, Maass said that tension with the School Committee influenced his decision to resign, and he had been thinking about doing so for

“Leading up to that midyear evaluation, there have been times where School Committee members have disregarded my request and chosen to do what they wanted to do operationally, and I’ve had conversations with one of those School Committee members and there was no regard for my role as a superintendent,” Maass said. “It’s a tough job and you have to have a School Committee that’s with you, and I just feel there’s too much tension there related to roles and responsibilities.”

With about 8 years of committee experience under her belt, Williams believes she can make a difference.

In Michigan she served on the school committee for two years and also served on various other committees and boards, including the Diversity Committee, Wellness Committee and Planning Commission.

Williams turned in her 80 signatures to the town clerk’s office at Abbott Hall on Monday.

50 certified signatures are needed to get her name on the ballot, but potential nominees are encouraged to get more than the required amount of names incase signatures are illegible.

Once all of her signatures are certified by those in the office of the town clerk, Williams said, then she’ll make her final decision on whether to run or not.

“I feel like my experience is needed at this point and I can’t sit by anymore,” Williams said. “In any event, what I have seen from the actions of the board, and Maass’s resignation, something needs to change.”

According to Jill Lewis in the town clerk’s office, Williams was one of five Marblehead residents who turned in signatures by the 5 p.m. deadline Monday night, all of which are running for two seats whose terms will last for three years.

Current school committee members seeking reelection are Jonathan Lederman and Kathleen Leonardson.

Besides Williams, the incumbents will be opposed by potentials Meredith Tedford and Eyal Oren.

Lewis said that the three employees in the Town Clerks office will most likely be finished going through the collected signatures by the end of the week.

The town election will be held on Monday May 13.

Terri Ogan can be reached at oganglobe@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter.

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