Safety, cultural sensitivity on Lynn superintendent shopping list

LYNN — Mayor Thomas M. McGee welcomed more than four dozen parents and advocates to Monday night’s final session on what questions should be asked of superintendent candidates.

Emily Jodoin, a parent of an 11-year-old boy, said school safety is job one.

“I want our kids to have safe schools,” she said. “Not just against shootings, but physically safe schools. I asked my son what he wants to see in the next superintendent and he said ‘Someone who will fix our schools.’ He has a pipe in his classroom with duct tape on it that has been dripping water. He doesn’t want to see a school fixed with duct tape. Our kids deserve better.”

Former School Committeewoman Maria Carrasco said the teaching staff should reflect its students, who are mostly minority.

“We want a superintendent who is more sensitive to the fact that 51 percent of our students are Latino, 9 percent are African American and 8.9 percent are Asian,” she said. “They need to see someone at the head of the classroom and say, ‘I can be a teacher, too.’ “

Angela Ventola, who described herself as a mother of a child who has been bullied, said she hopes the next superintendent will take the issue seriously and develop strategies to deal with it.

Cynthia Christ, executive director of the Gregg Neighborhood House, a child care provider in Lynn, said the new superintendent should make early education a priority.

Gabriela Lopez, who spoke in Spanish and used an interpreter, said the city should hire a superintendent who has experience with children facing mental health issues and those with disabilities.

Sergio Cuellar, a parent of a Head Start child, said the next school leader should be someone who knows how drugs are taking a toll on children and their families.

“More education is needed on drug abuse for children and their parents,” he said in Spanish through a translator.

Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, facilitator of the community focus groups, said the deadline is Friday for applications for superintendent.

McGee said he hopes to have a new school leader in place by May.

Dr. Catherine C. Latham will be retiring at the end of the school year.

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