Mitchell: ‘I Just Want the Best Person’ for Superintendent [VIDEO]
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell made his weekly visit to WBSM on Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time on Dr. Pia Durkin's decision to resign as Superintendent of New Bedford Schools. The mayor says his philosophy has not changed, which is to get the very best person to continue to build on the foundation that Dr. Durkin has lain.
"I think anybody looking at this position would want to know is that the City is interested in, the School Committee and the mayor are interested in, continuing improvement, and not allowing a 'sliding back' to the way things were," Mitchell said. "I can't tell you, that ain't gonna happen as long as I'm in this office."
Mayor Mitchell says Dr. Durkin's time as Superintendent has been a "net positive." He called it "far from perfect," but said Dr. Durkin made a number of improvements on which the next superintendent needs to build.
He also says he doesn't have a preference as to whether or not the next superintendent is an internal hire, as some have said they'd prefer to see over another outsider like Dr. Durkin.
"I don't care where the person comes from. I just want to have the best person," Mitchell said. "If the best qualified candidate is sitting in one of our schools, or is somewhere local, great. But we want the best person."
Mitchell said he could sympathize with Dr. Durkin's point she made on WBSM Monday that it's harder to be a woman in a position of power, but that it wasn't the only reason for issues she may have had with people.
"It is harder. I do think there is a double standard," he said. "I can't say that would sum up some of the relationship issues Dr. Durkin had with the community, though."
The mayor also didn't want to comment too much on the issue between Durkin and School Committee member-elect John Oliveira, and the fact that Oliveira now has a "No Trespass" order that keeps him from being able to step foot on New Bedford Schools property, unless summoned by a school official.
"Our attorneys will look at that," Mitchell said, noting he hasn't had a chance to talk with Oliveira since the incidents last week but that he will soon. "I think he's a guy, who like me, has kids in the school system, and he cares deeply about the course of New Bedford schools."