Pittsfield Officials Pick Taconic Grad for Empty School Committee Seat
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In a joint meeting of the School Committee and the City Council, Nyanna Slaughter was unanimously voted to serve the rest of former member School Committee member Dennis Powell's term expiring at the end of December.
Powell abruptly resigned last month over committee's choice for superintendent.
Slaughter is the Central Massachusetts regional director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and as a Pittsfield native has "strong relationships with several children, families, elected officials, and community leaders in the city."
"I am a Black educated woman who is a confident, passionate, determined, organized leader and team player," she wrote in her letter of interest. "Joining the Pittsfield School Committee will allow me to continue to serve and engage our students in our community."
Also indicating interest was Karen Kaveney-Murray, who has worked in Pittsfield Public Schools as a translator, and Randy Farmer, who feels strongly about ensuring success for all students by implementing policies that focus on student achievement. Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell nominated Farmer but the motion was not seconded.
Applicants Kathy Amuso, Avi Dresner, and Karen Lauzon withdrew and Farmer was a new addition, as his application through Google on May 3 was misplaced in the system.
Mayor Linda Tyer made the first motion to nominate Slaughter for the seat.
Slaughter graduated in 2018 from the University of New Haven in Connecticut after studying in criminal justice for investigative services with a minor in business management. She worked as a counselor, coordinator, and co-director for the Marilyn Hamilton Sports and Literacy Program for seven years.
She also worked as a monitor for the Berkshire Community Correction Center and is an athlete, playing college basketball for two years and throughout her young life.
"I am a resident of Pittsfield MA and a Ward 6 registered voter, I grew up here in Pittsfield, I attended Crosby Elementary School, Reid Middle School, and Taconic High School," she wrote.
"In my early years of basketball I played at the local YMCA and Boy's & Girl's Club, I was captain of the varsity basketball and volleyball teams, I was a member of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program now referred to as 1Berkshire Youth Leadership Program, I was in the business academy and joined Business Professionals of America during my tenure at Taconic."
Members of the committees expressed that they were uncomfortable picking the temporary member from letters of interest without having them "present" at the meeting.
"Is it possible for us to hear from these candidates as part of this proceeding?" School Committee member William Cameron asked during the Zoom meeting. "I don't know any of them, all I have is the material that they submitted. And I for one would like to hear at least some sort of statement from the people who submitted their names for consideration."
Councilor at Large Pete White and Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey seconded Cameron's sentiments, as they preferred to hear from the candidates over the Zoom platform rather than read their materials before voting.
"I think that it's difficult to choose between the candidates in front of us given only getting a letter," Cameron said. "Some of us may know, one or two of the candidates, however, it would just be a more fair process to hear something from them a statement, something to know whether or not they plan to run for the seat."
Tyer believed that the letters were sufficient and bringing the candidates to the meeting would be outside of what they were asked to do.
"I appreciate the sentiment of that," she said. "However, they were not notified as part of this process that they would be asked to make a presentation or to meet with us in person, they were asked to submit a letter of interest and they all submitted very comprehensively, well-written letters of interest and I think that is sufficient for the decision that we are making this evening."
Slaughter has not made any indication that she will be running for the open seat at the end of her term.
Tags: appointments, Pittsfield School Committee,