School department intervenes at Madison Park

Martin Desmarais | 3/26/2014, 10:30 a.m.
Boston Public Schools publicly stepped in last week to try and save troubled Madison Park Technical/Vocational High School, which has ...
Interim Boston School Superintendent John McDonough last week announced the district would be intervening in the running of Madison Park Technical/Vocational High School.

Both McDonough and Stutman told Madison Park staff — including administrators and teachers — that the intervention could result in some staff members being involuntarily reassigned from their positions and could lead to the replacement of some leadership staff.

McDonough said he believes the Innovation Plan but in place in 2012 can still drive the improvement and success of Madison Park, but he only wants staff at the school who are fully committed to the work needed.

“The bottom line, in terms of my thinking, is that the greatest challenge that Madison Park has had and continues to have is that they have not developed a culture that is uniformly focused on student’s success,” McDonough said. “Until we develop that culture we are not positioning students to succeed.”

According to McDonough, he anticipates that the staff at Madison Park will be there for the duration of this school year, but beyond that the staff will be driven by only those who are united in the team effort to improve the school. He said there will be an assessment of the staff to determine this.

“We will find out who wants to stay and who does not,” he said. “For those that want to stay at Madison Park we want to make sure they are truly committed to a different culture.”

In addition to the intervention team, McDonough said he will also appoint a team to be on the ground at Madison Park and help the school through the rest of the school year.

The environment he envisions at Madison Park is one in which the students are welcome, valued and have a clear pathway to success that is clear to them and continually reinforced and supported.

BPS has the support of the Boston School Committee on the Madison Park intervention, and committee chair Michael O’Neill came out publicly to back the move.

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, chair of the council’s education committee is also backing the effort.

“There are many people committed and dedicated to transforming Madison Park, but until now we have not been united to fully support what students need,” Jackson said in a statement. “It’s time for us to look ahead together, make the tough choices together and deliver world-class vocational training our kids deserve.”

But some close to Madison Park are not as encouraged.

Louis Elisa, a member of Friends of Madison Park Technical/Vocational High School, is skeptical that the intervention will result in anything more than another plan to improve the school. He said the school already has the Innovation Plan and the staff knows what needs to be done — this does not need to examined again.

“You can’t turn around the school without the tools and resources to do it,” Elisa said. “Support comes from leadership. It comes from the top … I would like to see McDonough do what he said he was going to do and give the headmaster the support she needs to implement the Innovation Plan.

“What I would like to see the school to do is to live up to its potential for young men and women to come in there and get the skills,” he added.