LYNN — Former School Committee member Charles N. Gallo is the odd man out in the committee’s selection of three finalists to interview Sept. 20 for the job of secretary of the school committee.
City Election Coordinator Mary E. Jules, Lynn schools storekeeper Joseph B. Martin, and Frances Martinez, president and founder of the North Shore Latino Business Association, Inc. (NSLBA), are the finalists for a job that committee members said will be hard to fill owing to the standards set by the man who held it for 21 years.
Thomas P. Iarrobino brought private sector management experience to the secretary’s job in 1997 when he was tapped by then-Mayor Patrick J. McManus to assist the committee and serve as a liaison between members and school administration. Iarrobino retired last Friday.
“Tom Iarrobino is going to be irreplaceable. I am looking for someone who has strong experience working with others and who is prepared to keep the committee informed,” said committee member Jared C. Nicholson.
Nicholson and six fellow committee members spent Monday and Tuesday evening interviewing eight candidates for the secretary’s job. In interviews following the candidate rounds, they said they applied two standards in selecting finalists for interviews next Thursday night.
One standard is the posted job description for the secretary job calling for a minimum three years of experience “working with public or private boards,” five years of public sector work experience, and excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
Iarrobino’s salary at the time of his retirement was $102,765.
The second standard was a set of core questions, posed by committee members to candidates, encompassing education experience, customer service skills and ability to maintain confidentiality. Other questions focused on the candidates’ ability to attend evening committee meetings and field calls — many coming on weekends and evenings — from committee members and school officials, including media queries.
“It’s not a 9-to-5 job. The position is so important as we move ahead with a new superintendent,” said committee member Brian K. Castellanos.
Following the interviews, committee members each named three candidates they wanted to interview as finalists. The selections were not ranked and members did not comment on the candidates’ merits during Monday’s or Tuesday’s meetings.
Martinez received a unanimous finalist nomination from the seven committee members.
Gallo was nominated as a finalist by Mayor Thomas M. McGee, who serves as committee chairman, Nicholson, Castellanos and committee member John E. Ford Jr.
Jules was nominated by Castellanos and committee members Donna M. Coppola, Lorraine M. Gately, Michael A. Satterwhite and McGee.
“The school committee is looking for a multifaceted individual who can impartially and professionally assist the members in advancing their governing work and furthering the mission of serving our diverse school community. The final candidate should also be someone who is able to establish a strong and positive working relationship with the superintendent. We have some very good final candidates and I look forward to the second interviews next week,” McGee said in a statement Thursday.
Martin received nominations from Coppola, Ford, Gately, Nicholson and Satterwhite.
“I want someone I could pick up the phone and ask, ‘I have this constituent and could you get an answer to this question for me?’ That’s what Tom (Iarrobino) would do,” Gately said.
Ford said he nominated the three candidates who in his view “interviewed the best.” He said the secretary job demands a strong sense of confidentiality and honesty.
“It’s a bond between the superintendent and yourself and the committee and yourself,” Ford said.
All three finalists, like Gallo, are Lynn residents. Martinez helped launch the NSLBA in 2011 and she has worked as a Lynn schools special education parent liaison since 2011.
“I have years of practice elaborating agendas and minutes, providing information, (and facilitating) communications …” Martinez wrote in her application letter.
Jules is a former legislative aide who has held her city elections job since 2015, helping prepare for elections and handling city census tasks. Her résumé lists skills including “Liaison with constituents, lobbyists, and advocates …” as a legislative aide to former state Rep. Robert Fennell.
Martin has worked for the Lynn schools for 26 years, initially as a custodian and, in his job as storekeeper, transporting supplies and equipment and overseeing storage. He is a local organized-labor leader, and has tenure as North Shore Labor Council vice president.
“I have built many relationships with members of the central administration, principals, teachers, parents and various support staff,” Martin wrote in his application.
Gallo has experience running the law office that bears his name and working for the past 13 years for Guardian Community Trust, Inc.
“My duties at Guardian are similar to those of the Secretary of the School Committee. I act as a liaison between the executive director, board of directors, and various third parties,” he wrote in his application letter.
Gallo served on the School Committee from 2012 to 2016.
“From my experience, I appreciate the magnitude of the position of Secretary of the School Committee,” he wrote.
Satterwhite said Gallo came prepared for his interview but said his three finalist choices showed the greatest ability to translate their work experience into a role as an effective committee secretary. Ford called Gallo one of the most knowledgeable candidates, adding his three choices “Presented themselves very well.”
Ford and Coppola are senior committee members who served with Gallo. Coppola declined to say why Gallo was not included on her finalist list.
“I’m not going to get into why I didn’t pick him,” she said Wednesday.
Gallo’s list of references included state Sen. Brendan Crighton and former Classical High School Principal Gene Constantino. Jules’ references included former City Clerk Mary Audley and Martin’s included Dr. Pattye Griffin, Tracy Elementary School principal. Martinez’ references included Essex Sheriff and former Lynn police chief Kevin Coppinger.
Gallo on Wednesday called the chance to apply for the secretary job “a special opportunity.”
“I’m sorry I won’t advance to the second round,” he said.
Other candidates for the job included early childhood educator Kim Baugh; Kerri Hodgdon, a five-year School Department employee; Patricia Spanks, a local customer service employee; and Shirley Dorai, who has worked as executive assistant to the Malden public schools superintendent and School Committee since 2016.