Brockton schools name new interim superintendent
3 mins read

Brockton schools name new interim superintendent

Brockton Public Schools, a district that has grappled with budget deficits, leadership turnover and school violence, has named former Everett school superintendent Priya Tahiliani as interim superintendent.

“We believe she brings a wealth of experience and skilled leadership to the district at a critical moment,” Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan and School Committee member Tony Rodrigues said in a joint statement to GBH News.

Tahiliani will replace interim superintendent James Cobbs, who replaced Superintendent Michael Thomas while he took medical leave last year. Thomas remains on paid leave, according to district spokesperson Jordan Mayblum.

Cobbs, a former deputy superintendent for the district, will return to that role.

Brockton schools have struggled with student fights, deficits and teacher layoffs in recent years. The City of Brockton is currently investigating an $18.3 million school budget deficit from fiscal year 2023, according to the BPS website.

Tahiliani is familiar with the rough and tumble world of administrative politics in the schools.

In 2023, Everett schools voted against renewing Tahiliani’s contract despite its popularity with students and parents and generally positive performance reviews. She sparred with Mayor Carlo DeMaria and members of Everett’s school committee over budget cuts, hiring and even her role in school committee meetings.

She filed a lawsuit against DeMaria and the school committee claiming discrimination and harassment, and citing a coordinated effort to push her out of the job. DeMaria has denied those claims.

And just like Brockton, Everett became a school district paying two superintendents.

Everett’s school committee placed Tahiliani on paid administrative leave and hired an interim superintendent while claims of bullying against her were investigated.

Her lawyers said the investigative report, which has not been released by Everett officials, showed no evidence to support the allegations against her.

Tahiliani’s start date as schools’ chief in Brockton is contingent on contract negotiations, which are underway.

Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said it’s becoming increasingly typical for schools to hire interim superintendents, citing the current “litigious environment” in school districts and local governments.

“When there is an issue that needs to be investigated, it’s not unusual for them now to be sort of put on paid administrative leave while investigation takes place,” Scott said.

He said Tahiliani will bring stability to a school district that’s gone through several years of turmoil, calling her a cheerleader for students. His organization gave her a statewide award for her work in Everett, and he expected more of the same in Brockton.

“Students are clearly the focus … with every decision she makes,” he said. “I think that’s going to bring a message to the community, the kids, parents, teachers and educators of where her priorities are and where the priorities of the district need to be.”

Diane Adame contributed reporting to this story.