Superintendent Cassellius Signs Off


After serving for three years, Superintendent Cassellius is resigning. (Source: Craig F. Walker)

By Darren Seto (II) and Ross Wilson (V)

After marking her third year as the district’s chief executive, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius will step down from her role at the end of the current school year.

On February 7, Superintendent Cassellius, Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston School Committee Chair Jeri Robinson sent out three letters to the BPS community acknowledging the superintendent’s impending departure, which was described
as a “mutual decision” in Wu’s letter.

“We all made an agreement that I could stay until June so that Mayor Wu could build her own team,” says Superintendent Cassellius.

Superintendent Cassellius’s departure will be the fourth departure of a BPS superintendent in the past decade which includes two permanent and two interim superintendents.

Wu and the Boston School Committee have officially started searching for a new superintendent. On March 2, Wu and Committee Chair Robinson announced there will be a nine-person panel to select Cassellius’s replacement. The committee, which includes BPS students, faculty, parents and community members, will host a series of public hearings and gather community feedback as well as review and interview candidates privately before public vetting begins. In June, the committee will make a recommendation to the School Committee, who will ultimately vote on the best candidate.

In regards to the selection of a new candidate, Mayor’s Youth Council Education Committee Co-Director Khadija Raza (I) says, “I can see how someone who is Boston-based and knows the BPS system well is at an advantage. They might have a better understanding of the challenges in our system […], and they might have a better vision right at the beginning.”

Raza, however, is skeptical of whether there will be enough time for input from students, teachers and educators on the hiring process of the new superintendent, saying, “I don’t think four months to find a new superintendent will be feasible […] given the short timing we have.”

The impact that Superintendent Cassellius’s departure will have on Boston Latin School and the rest of the district’s high schools remains unclear. The recent exam school admissions policy passed in July 2021, which considers applicants’ socioeconomic backgrounds as well as academic performances, could change under a new superintendent, who may approach equity within exam school admissions differently.

“What the new superintendent feels about exam schools in our portfolio of [BPS] high schools is something that we will have to wait and see in the coming months,” says Head of School Rachel Skerritt.

In addition to overhauling BPS exam school admissions to increase equity, Superintendent Cassellius implemented many more opportunities for students across the district’s high schools.

Policies to increase equity include adjusting graduation requirements to better align with the state’s recommended program of study, MassCore, providing access to the Seal of Biliteracy and shifting the approach to attendance and grade-level retention to eliminate unfair barriers. Superintendent Cassellius also guided investments toward a school quality guarantee through the allocation of nurses, counselors, psychologists, social workers and family liaisons across the district’s schools, ensuring a full range of support for every student.

Superintendent Cassellius hopes that there will continue to be more opportunities for all of the district’s high schools to receive similar attention and access to a rigorous, qualitative and culturally responsive education.

Superintendent Cassellius says her work as superintendent would not have been possible without her team, as well as parents and students across the BPS community: “I hope students will continue to carry on their passions as they were the ones who spoke out about the changes with the exam school admissions. […] I’m so proud of the students here and their voice and the way they step up and advocate for their education.”