Paul Reville, left, appears with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, right.

Credit: Stephan Savoia/AP

Paul Reville: The State Is Failing Madison Park High School

December 7, 2017

Madison Park High School executive director Kevin McCaskill has been placed on paid leave, adding to the list of controversies at the troubled Roxbury school.

Former state education secretary Paul Reville says McCaskill’s suspension is another chapter in a long history of failures at Madison Park, and it’s time for the state to step in.

“It’s been a comedy of errors with tragic consequences for kids,” Reville said during an interview with Boston Public Radio Thursday. “It’s really an open sore for the Boston Public Schools. It demands urgent action. I, frankly, think the state ought to be more directly involved in this situation than they are at present ... something has to happen on behalf of the kids in that school.”

McCaskill, who has served as executive director since 2015, was suspended under unknown circumstances. Assistant headmaster Brett Dickens will step in to replace McCaskill during his absence.

“Generally speaking, there’s been a lot of pushback in Boston to any kind of state intervention and I think that’s part of the reason it hasn’t happened,” Reville said. “People in Boston haven’t been enthusiastic. There have been some takeovers, and frankly, those takeovers have had mixed results.”

Reville told WGBH News that if he were education secretary again, he would remove power from local authorities.“Time after time, local authorities haven’t been able to solve the problem,” Reville said. “Then you ... appoint a state-appointed receiver to go in and take on a chronically failing school.”

Last December, school officials placed Shawn Shackelford on leave for undisclosed reasons. Shackelford was never formally replaced.

“There were a lot of very basic administrative i’s that weren’t dotted and t’s that weren’t crossed,” Reville said. “From that ranging to corruption, ranging to people who haven’t been licensed going into the position, again, it’s been a comedy of errors with tragic consequences for kids.”

Paul Reville is the former Secretary of Education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education where he also runs the Education Redesign Lab. To hear his full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio player above.


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