The city’s vocational school has been run by a nonprofit agency since July, under state order, because of students’ chronically poor academic results, but agency and local officials have clashed about control.
The conflict has led to the meeting in Malden with Mitchell Chester, commissioner of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“I think at that meeting there’ll be a lot of clarity,” said Devin M. Sheehan, School Committee vice chairman.
Options include the Northampton-based Collaborative for Educational Services continuing to run Dean, the city finding another firm or agency or the Holyoke School Department resuming full control of Dean, he said.
In remarks after the School Committee meeting, Sheehan said, “I don’t think we’ll find another company. I think it’ll be the Holyoke public schools.”
Collaborative officials told the School Committee May 8 the organization will withdraw from its contract unless the city gives it complete autonomy to run Dean, such authority being necessary to make the changes needed to turn around Dean.
That includes power to develop and enforce the student admission policy, set enrollment capacity, and hire, fire and move around staff, they said.
Federal and other grants are paying the agency $606,520 a year.
Collaborative officials’ comments angered some committee members. Ward 3 member Dennis W. Birks Jr. said the Collaborative’s position was a “shameful” avoidance of responsibility.
During the public comment period Monday, resident Mary Z. Birks told the School Committee it should dissolve the partnership with the Collaborative. Birks is a Holyoke resident, Dennis Birks’ mother and director of special education for the town of Ware.
The money paid to the Collaborative would be better spent on Dean students, she said.
“Regrettably, the (Collaborative) has failed them and demonstrated an unexpectedly callous attitude toward the entire Dean learning community,” Birks said.
Collaborative Deputy Director William Diehl couldn’t be reached for comment late Monday.
Dean, at 1045 Main St., has a budget of $7.3 million, 600 students and 160 teachers and other staff. Students take shop classes that include auto body repair, welding, cosmetology and culinary arts.