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Local News

April 4, 2014

A year after Marblehead school board controversy, Lederman running again

MARBLEHEAD — He’s back. Former school board member Jonathan Lederman is running again to fill the one-year, unexpired term of colleague EuRim Chun.

In 2013, Lederman chose not to run for re-election after 12 years on the board. This came in the wake of the March 2013 resignation of Superintendent Greg Maas, who blamed interference from three board members, including Lederman, for his abrupt and shocking decision to leave. Consequently, calling the committee dysfunctional, Chun — who was not one of the three named — urged that all her colleagues resign. Dick Nohelty, who was one of those singled out by Maas, also resigned.

The situation has changed since, said Lederman, with morale at Marblehead High, despite a wonderful staff, plummeting and school finances in chaos. He blames the policies set by Maas for deteriorating standards, and he describes the former superintendent as someone whose skill at making friends belied an inability to run the schools.

More recently, Lederman laments a plan to cut back the time allotted for science labs, a move he believes puts students academically behind those in comparable districts. He recalled visiting the new School Committee with that complaint, “and I was rebuffed.”

Even his letter signaling his decision not to run last year referenced his controversial reputation. “I was often something of a thorn in the side of my fellow School Committee members,” Lederman said. But he believes it is precisely his willingness to ask tough questions that serves the board best. Further, he says even former critics have appealed to him to take up that role again.

“I’ve had teachers come to me,” he said.

The Maas resignation created a stormy, chaotic situation. “There was strife between ourselves,” Lederman conceded. “In the heat of the moment I wasn’t at my best. I lost my cool. This is something I’ve learned from. A more thoughtful and reasonable approach needs to be the order of the day.”

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