Mark McLaughlin named acting schools chief in South Hadley

  • South Hadley High School GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/13/2022 11:17:07 AM
Modified: 5/13/2022 11:15:28 AM

SOUTH HADLEY — The School Committee unanimously appointed Mark McLaughlin as acting superintendent of schools on Thursday night amid the continued unexplained absence of Superintendent Jahmal Mosley, who has been on paid leave since March.

McLaughlin was the district’s assistant superintendent before his promotion, which took effect immediately. Jennifer Voyik, the district’s business administrator, will take over as acting assistant superintendent.

Both appointments last through the end of the school year.

“I think the students and the staff of South Hadley are special, and the parents are special, and I’m grateful to be a part,” McLaughlin said during the virtual meeting. “It has been an unusual year, that’s for sure, but I’m very happy to be part of a team that can do good work on behalf of students. That’s what’s important.”

Vice chair Allison Schlachter said McLaughlin is an “excellent fit” for the role.

“Since he has been handling the responsibilities of the office for the past several weeks, I think he is just shining,” Schlachter said. “The district is moving along amazingly.”

Mosley’s contract began July 1, pays $174,000 per year and expires in June 2025. His last appearance at a School Committee meeting was March 17; since then, district officials have described Mosley as “out of the office.”

On Monday evening, the committee held an executive session to “discuss complaints or charges brought against a public officer, employee, staff member or individual.” It is not clear if that session was related to Mosley. Chairman Jackson Matos told the Gazette that Mosley is out on paid leave due to a “personnel matter” and did not offer further clarity at Thursday’s meeting.

“It is a personnel matter which we are not able to speak further on, and that is all we can say,” Matos said before opening the floor to public comment. “Questions regarding the superintendent— they’re not questions for the acting superintendent or acting assistant superintendent. … They actually have less information than we do.”

Matos said the new acting district leaders are “very talented people who have helped to stabilize and to keep our ship afloat. … Our school district has gone through a number of changes. The school year started off rocky and we emerged from all those challenges victorious, stronger than ever, but our boat has been rocked a bit.”

McLaughlin was technically assistant superintendent of curriculum, a title that committee members agreed would not match Voyik’s experience as the finance chief and de facto facilities manager. Instead, she will be assistant superintendent of finance and business operations.

Committee member Eric Friesner described Voyik's appointment as “a no-brainer.”

“There’s been a lot of hard times, and a lot of time when we’ve had the chance to laugh,” Voyik said. “I just feel lucky to be a part of this district. I feel like I’ve found my home.”

The meeting was followed by an executive session, held for the purpose of conducting contract negotiations with McLaughlin and Voyik.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.

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