The Boston School Committee has extended Superintendent Brenda Cassellius' $311,000-a-year contract, calling her work proficient but not exceptional.
The committee's 4-1 vote Wednesday night took place despite calls from activists and some members of the public to delay a decision until the city elects a new mayor. School Committee Vice Chair Michael O'Neill said waiting until then was not feasible under the terms of Cassellius' contract, which brought her to Boston from Minnesota two years ago.
"If we do not vote either to extend the contract for two years or vote to terminate the contract, then an automatic notice is triggered that the contract will expire 12 months from now," he said.
The committee voted on the extension while it's down two members and Boston's Acting Mayor Kim Janey is seeking applicants to replace them.
“It takes three to five years to really hit your stride,” O’Neill said to Cassellius, who took up the post in 2019. “I do believe you are on the right path.”
In early June, school committee members Lorna Rivera, who is a UMass Boston professor, and Alexandra Oliver-Davila resigned after the women exchanged racially disparaging texts during an official meeting.
In October, then-chairman Michael Loconto also resigned after he was caught on a hot mic making fun of the ethnic names of participants in a virtual meeting.
Cassellius has come under fire in recent months after several students in leadership positions within the Boston Public Schools complained about a counseling program with district ties that they said operated like a cult, then later stepped down.
One of them, Khymani James, a former student representative on the committee, said the district allowed students to participate in the program for years and called for Cassellius' resignation.
At the meeting Wednesday, none of the school committee members mentioned the incident, instead praising the superintendent's steady leadership during the upheaval caused by the pandemic.
The committee's newest member, Ernani DeAraujo, who was named to the post in February, cast the lone no vote on extending the contract.
According to Forbes magazine, Cassellius' pay of $311,000 this year is higher U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona's. He earns $221,400.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article cited an outdated salary for cabinet officers. U.S. Secretary of Education Michael Cardona earns $221,400.