Sergio Paez is in Minneapolis to meet with parents, teachers, administrators and community leaders to address any concerns about the prospect of his becoming the superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.
Contract negotiations with Paez are on hold after allegations surfaced that staff at a school in his former school district physically hit and abused special education students. On Jan. 12, the Minneapolis school board is expected to decide if it will continue with Paez as its preferred leader or restart its search for the district’s next superintendent. Paez is in town until Wednesday.
Paez, the former superintendent in Holyoke, Mass., said he decided to visit Minneapolis on his own to meet with board members and others who question his ability to lead the district.
Just two days after the board selected Paez as the finalist, the Disability Law Center in Massachusetts released a report detailing the allegations of abuse by staff at the Peck School in Holyoke. The report prompted outrage in that state, and a criminal investigation by the Hampden County district attorney. Paez has said he was not negligent in his handling of the allegations, saying he instructed staff to investigate every complaint and saw to it that the district’s staff and teachers received more training.
Paez said that while he is in Minneapolis he is willing to answer questions about the allegations.
“I will share as much as I can about the context and the work that we did with that school,” Paez said.
While in Minneapolis, Paez plans to meet with several members of the district’s leadership team, teachers, central office staff and the board. Paez said he intends to meet individually with as many of the district’s nine board members as possible.
Paez also will host two “coffee hours” in northeast and south Minneapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday, where parents and other community members can stop in to ask him questions. Paez said that when he agreed to take the top schools job in Minneapolis, he vowed to make himself available to anyone who had questions.
“I made the commitment to become the superintendent of this city,” Paez said. “I am willing to do whatever is necessary to clarify, explain and make sure people are confident with me and what I’m doing.”
Paez will be at Avenue Eatery in north Minneapolis on Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. and at Fireroast Cafe in south Minneapolis on Wednesday beginning at 10:30 a.m.