The Marblehead School Committee and Select Board will come together on Jan. 23 to interview and vote on the candidates to fill the School Committee member vacancy.
“To my knowledge, all nine of the committee members can make the 23rd work,” School Committee Chair Sarah Fox said at a School Committee meeting on Jan. 5.
This comes after the interviews and vote were postponed in late November due to scheduling conflicts. During the committee’s Dec. 1 meeting, School Committee Secretary Allison Taylor expressed her frustration with the postponement, citing that they had “agreed on this date well in advance.”
School Committee Member Sarah Gold said she was “very happy” that they are moving forward with filling the seat.
Former Committee Vice Chair Emily Barron, a residential designer, resigned from the committee following her appearance in August before the Zoning Board of Appeals on behalf of a client.
She subsequently learned that her professional work created a potential conflict of interest with her School Committee service.
In the wake of her resignation, Barron said she immediately reached out to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, at which point she learned that the only way for her to continue to serve on the committee was for the ethics laws regarding School Committee members to be changed.
Barron said she consulted with the Ethics Commission and the town to craft and identify a possible solution involving redesignating School Committee members as special employees rather than regular employees. Special employees are allowed to appear before other boards and committees in town in a professional capacity, she said, while regular employees are not.
Barron said she took that proposal to the Select Board, and, she said, the board declined to change the designation because of members’ belief that doing so would represent a conflict of interest on their part. A School Committee vote on the redesignation was scheduled but the committee opted to wait until a new member was appointed.
“It has been frustrating to be in this holding pattern for so long as I feel some important business is lagging at this point in time,” Gold said in an email. “I am confident we will appoint a new member who will be able to hit the ground running as we kick off a very important budget season.”
The ten finalists for the vacant seat are Paul Baker, Kim Day, Raymond Hansen, Liam McGeown, Scott Stunkel, Jennifer Brennan, Don DeWitt, Thomas Paul Mathers, Joe Patuleia, and Laurence Winer.