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New Suspect Named In Grade-Changing Probe

by Thomas MacMillan | Jan 5, 2012 9:32 am

(53) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools

Brian Dowling Photo After an investigator grilled Principal Kermit Carolina on allegations of transcript tampering at Hillhouse High, his lawyer said grade-altering is a problem at the school—and it’s bigger than you think.

Attorney Mike Jefferson named a new suspect in the probe—a computer system named Tenex. The school’s computer system has a glitch that has erroneously recorded lower grades for an untold number of students, Jefferson said.

Minutes from a Tuesday meeting of the Hillhouse High guidance department indicate that school staff backed up Jefferson’s claim that staff have been having problems with Tenex. Click here to read the minutes.

Jefferson was in the room Wednesday afternoon as attorney Floyd Dugas questioned his client, Principal Carolina, for over three hours about allegations that grades have been improperly altered at Hillhouse High.

Those allegations first surfaced at an emergency meeting of the Board of Education on Dec. 23. At that meeting, Carolina vehemently denied the charges and swung back with a claim that the investigation was a politically motivated witch-hunt launched by a vindictive mayor. Mayor John DeStefano denied that charge.

The board hired Dugas, a Milford attorney, to look into the grade-altering allegations.

On Wednesday afternoon, as Dugas went through the details of the allegations against him, Carolina said he did nothing wrong, according to Jefferson.

The principal also told the investigator that Hillhouse has an ongoing problem with Tenex, the computer system that records and processes grades and transcripts, Jefferson said. Teachers and guidance counselors have reported that the system has been lowering grades by a full letter, Jefferson said.

Jefferson said it’s unclear how many students’ records have been affected by the alleged computer glitch, but it’s likely a large number, including students who have already graduated.

Will Clark, chief operating officer for the Board of Ed, declined to comment on the investigation.

Three Students

Jefferson for the first time recounted the details behind the three cases under investigation. Here’s how he described the three:

One case was already discussed at the emergency meeting of the Board of Ed. It involved a student who had taken a summer course that was improperly coded such that it did not reflect the fact that it was a college-level course. The second case was an identical situation. In both cases, the transcripts were changed—probably sometime in September—to reflect the actual course the students took.

Grades were also changed on the transcripts. It’s unclear who made the grade or the code changes, Jefferson said. It was not Carolina, who doesn’t even have access to the computer system, Jefferson said.

The third case involved a student who had participated in the city’s Youth At Work summer job program. In November, his mother later called the school to say that her son’s school records did not properly credit him for the work. Carolina asked Shirley Love Joyner, the school administrator in charge of guidance, to look into the matter and give the student credit if it was due. That was the last he heard of it, according to Jefferson.

Joyner is the administrator who first brought the allegations of grade-changing to the Board of Ed, according to Jefferson. She did not return a call for comment.

Jefferson said that the system will record what changes have been made and who has made them. So it should be a simple matter to determine who made the changes to the three transcripts on which the allegations are based, he said.

Tenex Trouble

Joyner is also the person who first warned Carolina of trouble with Tenex, according to Jefferson. Tenex has “a system-wide problem” discovered over the summer which causes some grades to “go down a grade,” Jefferson said. Joyner informed Carolina of this in September and he asked her to look into it and fix it, Jefferson said.

The Tenex problem persists as of Jan. 3, when guidance counselors discussed the ongoing problem at a staff meeting. The minutes from the meeting include the following bullet points:

• “[Jennifer] Saucier discussed grading errors on transcripts vs report cards. Final grades on report cards do not always match up with grades on transcripts.
• [Marie] Block gave an update about Tenex and how tenex overrode grades that teachers gave hence the reason for the discrepancies on transcripts and report cards.
• [Dolores] Garcia-Blocker told us not to make any changes at this time but keep a running record of students that we come across that have this issue.”

Jefferson doesn’t have any evidence that Tenex caused grade changes in the three cases under investigation, but he offered it as a possible explanation. “What could have happened is the grade was changed erroneously by the system itself and then if a student made a complaint, the student was given the grade that they earned. That’s where the problem lies.”

Jefferson said Carolina had ordered his staff to fix the system, and said that it’s a problem for the guidance department.

“They’ve been trying to work on it. That’s a guidance issue,” he said. “Kermit has about six or seven administrators in the building. Each one of them has seven or eight areas they have to cover. You’re dealing with a large number of areas that he’s responsible for.”

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posted by: Threefifths on January 5, 2012  10:07am

Looks like the truth is starting to come out.Were are all of you Carolina haters now.I can’t hear you.Notice this statement.

Tenex Trouble
Joyner is also the person who first warned Carolina of trouble with Tenex, according to Jefferson. Tenex has “a system-wide problem” discovered over the summer which causes some grades to “go down a grade,” Jefferson said. Joyner informed Carolina of this in September and he asked her to look into it and fix it, Jefferson said.

I wonder why she did not return a call for comment.Time to call Kojak.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY2reJ9ktRo&feature=related

Or maybe Jim Rockford.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C8EUrtEhfM&feature=related

posted by: Noteworthy on January 5, 2012  10:15am

Houston. We have a problem. It’s not only a failure to communicate, it’s a failure to fix an on-going problem. It’s a failure to properly and fairly present the facts. And uh, Houston, our allegations are falling in around our ears like so much dandruff from half bald heads.

If true, it looks like Dugas and his law firm won’t quite recoup their DeStefano campaign contributions and more just yet. And they were so looking forward to that $50,000…Good night Houston.

posted by: New Haven Resident on January 5, 2012  10:38am

Out of all school you start with Hillhouse this is the mayors doing he has something against Mr. Carolina and i don’t trust mayo either the mayor and him are working together to try to destroy Kerm he is here to help the students at hillhouse and throughout new haven when you have a good one who is doing what the have to do to better our children you try to shut them down Kerm continue to do what you have been which is running hillhouse to the best of your knowledge and keep Mr. Jefferson by your side because he will get to the bottom!

posted by: Don Romeo on January 5, 2012  10:52am

Im dissapointed in you Will Clark, you are a man of integrety who in the past has always stepped up immediately.  You owe the citizens of new haven the truth, not the mayor, who’s gonna look to put the blame on you or someone in the gateway building.  well, someone other then reggie mayo.

posted by: Robbie The Robot on January 5, 2012  10:55am

The dog ate my homework.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 5, 2012  11:08am

Does the entire New haven public school system use TENEX for recording grades? If so have all the other schools in the district had the same problem with TENEX changing student grades? Maybe the school should ask Mr. Don Lynch, the former technology coordinator at Hillhouse, to help resolve the problems Hillhouse has been having with TENEX.
New Haven, can you imagine all the lawsuits that could be brought against the city by all of the Hillhouse graduates whose transcripts contain erroneous grades. Those students may have been denied college acceptance, scholarships and financial aid and employment in the work world because their transcripts potentially show lower grades and lower class ranks than they actually achieved.
Could TENEX also change grades to ones higher than those actually given by teachers?
What a mess!

posted by: Newhallville84 on January 5, 2012  11:25am

This sounds like a COP OUT. TENEX is an outdated archaic student information system but I’m not buying the fact that it randomly changes gardes. This sounds like Shirely Love-Joyner got her feathers ruffled and ran to Dr. Mayo and the Mayor to file a complaint. PPersonallythis is not change I can believe in. To all MAYO cronies who have gained employment on their personal allegiances and friendships this is a clear sign that your days are numbered. I suggest you all run back to school, earn a degree and be prepared for the shake up.

posted by: SouthWest on January 5, 2012  11:26am

Who’s going to be the “fall guy” for Johnny Boy ?????? Let’s see how many retirement papers are going to be filed?????? What sob story will the retiree come up with this time’’

posted by: Questions on January 5, 2012  11:55am

Someone, please help me to understand this:

The Tenex system allows a student’s grade in math, for example, to be different on the report card than on the permanent record card?  One would think that the program puts the same grade in one place as it does in another place for the same student and the same course.  How would it NOT do this?

Tenex has been in use for a long time, so does this mean that grades have been incorrect for a long time?  Why is it that someone is discovering it now?

At what point does someone become responsible for this?  Since Tenex is in use in all of the schools, not only at Hillhouse, I would think that the problem exists elsewhere, too.  Someone at the central office should be explaining, beginning with Reggie Mayo.

I wonder if anyone has ever suffered because of this before, i.e., if a college has ever gotten the wrong grade point average for a student, and thereby refused to accept the student.  If this has happened, imagine the lawsuit.

If all of the “scandal” at Hillhouse is due to a faulty computer program, imagine the lawsuit Kermit can file for defamation of character.

posted by: DavidK on January 5, 2012  12:38pm

I was a Database Developer for 7 years. Although I have no experience with the Tenex system, I never had seen errors that would consistently, not randomly, produce lower results. Something smells rotten (and it’s not) in Denmark.

posted by: robn on January 5, 2012  12:52pm

GIGO = Garbage In Garbage Out

Human error is causing the problem and at the top of the error list is a principal kicking the can back downstairs and of waiting for underlings to solve such a large problem instead of doing it himself.

posted by: New Haven Teacher Tenex Hater on January 5, 2012  1:35pm

I’ve used Tenex for grades for what, a decade? It is the most user-unfriendly program, ever.

While I canot speak to the Hillhouse situation, I can tell you that I always warned students to let me know if their report card grade was not correct.

One issue with Tenex that is a common human error is that numeric grades must be entered with a zero first. So a “92” must be coded as “092”. Following the grades are absences and boxes for comment codes, which do not require a front-end zero. When entering grades, it’s easy to skip that zero, causing the rest of the codes to be incorrect.

Our AP would always print a confirmation copy for teachers to double check. This allowed me on more than one occasion to catch the coding mistake that turned my “A” student who was “a please to teach” into a “D” student whose “shop work was well done”. In a history class.

Sometimes human error is just human error.

posted by: Curious on January 5, 2012  1:37pm

Two things don’t add up.

1. Why didn’t every student cause a fuss when they were given lower grades on their report cards than they earned?  For this to be undiscovered in many cases as alleged, sounds preposterous.

2. For a problem this big, why didn’t Principal Carolina follow up with Ms. Joyner and make sure the problem was resolved?

posted by: streever on January 5, 2012  1:50pm

DavidK
The problem with most schools implementation of technology is they rarely have a qualified person with the appropriate technical background—they rely on seniority filled positions of people who “know about” computers and hire outside contractors who may or may not use best practices.

It is entirely possible that the error is “random” in the eyes of the school system—although it should be traceable back to a bug which can be resolved/fixed.

posted by: charter revision on January 5, 2012  5:01pm

I am willing to bet that there is not another school system in the state of Connecticut still using Tenex.  Using tenex is analogous to using a rotary phone in the age of cell phones.  Smart districts spent a good deal of their stimulus money on new student information systems that could bring them into the 21st century.  New Haven chose to use the money to increase patronage by hiring the siblings, children and relatives of present employees who support John DeStefano.  What the Guidance minutes reflect is that there is a significant problem with student records, and this could compromise a student’s chances at receiving scholarship money through the Promise Program.  These minutes also seem to reflect a level of incompetence by the admnistrator assigned to resolve the problem, who happens to be the same person making an allegation of grade changing.  It seems she is trying to cover her incompetence by blaming the principal for something he did not do because she did not perform her duties as directed by the principal.  That appears to be either insubordination or incompetence.  In either case, the administrator did not get it done.  This is a horrific waste of time and resources.  It is sad that Mayo fails to see all the legitimate educational “emergencies” throughout the district.  It is time for him to go - now.

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 5, 2012  5:23pm

Systems do not exist in isolation.
Culpability needs to be focussed on man, not machine.

posted by: William F. Anderson on January 5, 2012  5:35pm

This whole story about TENEX being the cause of the grade tampering inquiry at Hillhouse really raises more questions than it actually answers.
If Mrs. Joyner informed Mr. Carolina in September that there were problems with TENEX correctly recording, preserving and transferring grades to transcripts, why was the matter not addressed months ago?
If Hillhouse has had problems with TENEX, then why haven’t we heard reports about grade issues in all of the other New Haven public schools which also use TENEX? 
From the minutes from this Tuesday’s meeting of the Hillhuose guidance department:
“Saucier discussed grading errors on transcripts vs report cards. Final grades on report cards do not always match up with grades on transcripts.”
“Block gave an update about Tenex and how tenex overrode grades that teachers gave hence the reason for the discrepancies on transcripts and report cards.”
How many transcripts fall into this category and are all the grade discrepancies on the transcripts higher or lower than those grades that appear on report cards?
How many present students and graduates of Hillhouse are effected by this computer program glitch?
When was this problem first discussed?
Who is responsible and who will be held responsible for all of the potential damages done to students who are the victims of this mess? What is the number of students who did or did not get into the college of their choice due to the incorrect transcripts?
What about class ranks? Grade point averages?
Did someone intentionally change grades at Hillhouse?
Every student who graduated from Hillhouse High School in the last 10 years should contact the school to check their transcripts and their grade records to verify the accuracy of these important documents.

posted by: trainspotter on January 5, 2012  5:43pm

The question I have is why are the transcript grades lower than the report card grades? Few students see their actual transcripts unless they are transferring out of the district. In most cases, schools will send transcripts directly to universities or other districts without the student ever touching it to prevent falsification. It would not be a surprise that students wouldn’t pick up on the discrepancy. I’m just not following how the system is producing two different grades.

posted by: Threefifths on January 5, 2012  5:59pm

Again were are all of the Carolina haters now.I can’t hear you.Hey seemore where are you at.I will find all of you myself with the help of the follwing.

        CANNON

http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=FGJ82yhdMqk&feature=related

Or maybe Mannix.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUzN7e6kN-w&feature=related

How about The Saint

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRlbmV39Zhw&feature=related

My Bad,I forgot this is a computer cover up.We must bring in the best.

The Man From UNCLE.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZuErXLfQlM&feature=related

posted by: richgetricher on January 5, 2012  9:19pm

Some interesting issues here. But still why call a Christmas Eve emergency meeting for this? Why not give the principal a heads-up? And finally, what’s behind the “Kermit, You were there- John” note. Did he really send the same type note to Mr. Smuts in September? At high levels, the real story is always about the cover-up.

posted by: Step n fetch it on January 5, 2012  9:29pm

Just so I am clear: Reggie Mayo contacted Attorney Dugas on December 19th about this alleged issue and authorized him to start an investigation, but then waited three days to call an “emergency board meeting?”. Emergency is defined as a pressing necessity or crisis.  I have yet to see an emergency that can wait for three days to be addressed.  As such, why was an emergency meeting called if not for entirely political reasons?”

...

Here is the deal:  there will be no finding of malfeasance of any type on the part of Principal Carolina.  At that point, he can decide whether or not to sue the incompetent administrator and the superintendent for defamation of character.  It ips my sincerest hope, however, that Reggie Mayo can read the handwriting on the wall and decide to retire effective immediately.  ...  When I saw him passing out palm cards for the Mayor at one of the polling places this past election, I realized he had sunken to a new low.  He is the worst superintendent in the state, and has no clue of what children need to live productive lives.  ...  I am willimg to see my tax dollars go to a buy out of this guy because he needs to go-now

posted by: mkm on January 6, 2012  5:57am

“defamation of character”... umm, if Kermit hadn’t spoken out at the Board meeting, and made parts of this public, all we would know is that there was an investigation.
It was he who made the leap to the idea that this investigation was a slur against him, not the Bd Ed, Mayo or mayor. the paranoia that he exhibited (or was encouraged to by the NHI, Jefferson, Highsmith or others) was what caused all this speculation about conspiracies and politics.
had he waited until the other details became public, then there would be no slur on his good name at all…

posted by: Observer on January 6, 2012  9:51am

School reform—- New Haven style—at work!

posted by: streever on January 6, 2012  10:19am

richgetricher
Exactly.

I can point to a half dozen problems in the way City employees work and do their jobs, but:

a. they aren’t reflected on their reviews (which the city used to deny to FOIs, and then stopped doing when they were forced to show them)

b. they aren’t admitted in public (for instance, the way that Public Works CONTINUES to kill trees by tearing the bark off)

c. they aren’t even admitted in private!

The City has zero management—they don’t do reviews, they don’t have job objectives for many of their employees, and raises and wages are tied to completely arbitrary systems.

Yet, they call Kermit Carolina out on Christmas Eve for 3 incidents that appear to have been resolved?

posted by: karen on January 6, 2012  12:24pm

I read this African Proverb Inspirational Quote this morning,and I thought it fits what is going in New Haven’s school system right now. “Until lions have their historians, Tales of the hunt shall.”
“Until lions have historians” (Principal Carolina), “Tales of the Hunt shall.” (Mayor DeStefano and his tribe)..... Hope no one gets offended, because I broke it down, but I wanted to see my thought in writing!

posted by: cmp on January 6, 2012  1:05pm

Happy that NHI is starting to uncover…I understand that Jefferson wants everything in the press while the City cannot release anything (or risk lawsuit)...but some more investigative work would be appreciated.

If this is accurate, why wouldn’t Kermit do everything in his power to address and fix the issue?

Seems a bit odd (suspicious?) that a principal, who will ultimately be evaluated on how well students achieve academically, would not pay closer attention this.

posted by: Taxedtothecore! on January 6, 2012  1:27pm

Mr. Carolina, continue to do a great job with the students at Hillhouse and I’M proud that you stood your ground with the Mayor. If only the rest of the people that work for the NHBOE would stand up to these none teacing people who are paper pushers and speech makers. I would love to see these directors and big shot
people come and work directly in a school or classroom with 21st Century urban kids! Mr. Carolina if you would have donated about 5,000 to the campaign chest. Your job would be secure until you retire! So, be smart and give to the ccampaign chest like so many of the paper pushers who are able to give all their friends jobs and keep their jobs and retire doing zero with big fat cks.

posted by: brutus2011 on January 6, 2012  2:26pm

to “cmp”

Principals in New Haven are not evaluated accordingly to student achievement.

History has shown this.

Principals in New Haven are evaluated according to their relationship to top management.

History has shown this as well.

In other words, municipal and organizational politics are the rubric by which our school leaders are measured, not by academic performance.

Hence, Attorney Jefferson’s play in the court of public opinion.

He knows how NHPS officials play the game.

People, pay attention!

posted by: Threefifths on January 6, 2012  2:52pm

Taking bets.Carolina found innocent.

posted by: Threefifths on January 6, 2012  2:55pm

May be this is the problem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2f-MZ2HRHQ&feature=related

posted by: westville man on January 6, 2012  2:59pm

@ mkm

Carolina was told it was his high school by the PRESS the morning of the hearing, AFTER they queried him about the meeting itself. He had NO notice of it!
Had he not attended and defended himself, there was a good chance they could’ve used the old “put him on leave” routine when the press later reports that it was Hillhouse at issue.
Please stop and think about it- an emergency meeting that the press knows about but the head of the school at issue doesn’t!!  I’d be both very concerned and fired up about it.

posted by: appleblossom on January 6, 2012  4:01pm

Hillhouse Anonymous to Dr. Mayo
Dear Dr. Mayo,

We have been bullied, humiliated, and intimidated and are afraid of losing our jobs. This overseer you appointed to Hillhouse High School is a poor excuse for a principal. We will not use that word again when referring to him; he does not deserve that title. He is not the role model that should be around impressionable young men and women.  Many of us have been employed in the NH school system for many years, and are approaching the age of retirement in a few years, and have always received excellent evaluations. This new overseer wants to get rid of the seasoned staff and replace them with people that he can manipulate and control. The power placed in his hands by this appointment, was the worse thing that could have happened to the HH staff and the integrity of this school community. We have noticed our co-workers being out on medical leave or just absent for some reason. Stress and tension is not a conducive environment and that’s what we have had at HH for the past year, and a half. We are among those staff afraid to speak up, and we just do what the overseer demands us to do. We, as well as many other staff members applauded Mrs. Joyner who stood by her principles, work ethic, and home training and did not knuckle under to the demands of this man who has no ethical standards.

It was requested by this overseer that Mrs. Joyner’s office change some student grades, She told him that she could not do that. Shortly after she refused him, we noticed that Mrs. Joyner was assigned nonsensical duties- the overseer I’m told went to others in the office demanding that grade changing be done. After Mrs. Joyner learned that this was happening she could no longer remain silent. She took her concerns to you Superintendent Mayo.

We are noticing that while Mrs. Joyner is engaged in these nonsensical duties, taking her away from her duties as Assistant Principal in charge of Guidance Counselors, other people and the overseer who know nothing about the Guidance process are in and out of her office (lots of traffic) not the students. The staff is assuming that the plan is to block her from doing her job. So that the overseer can give her an unfavorable evaluation, in order to get her out. We, and some other not so brave staff, applaud Mrs. Joyner for bringing this problem to the forefront.

Mrs. Joyner is a well-respected member of the HH staff who knows what she is doing. She has earned the respect of the staff and the young people who pass through her office, and we are very lucky to have her on our staff. She has used her expertise to bring prominence to the school. We, along with many of our co-workers do not understand why this overseer is still on the job with the shame that he has brought on the Hillhouse community. Any other school system would have suspended this person, pending an investigation. He continues to walk around this school. The investigators cannot effectively investigate with the overseer peering over their shoulders.

Superintendent Mayo—step up—do your job. Hillhouse should no longer be subjected to this individual. If you do and these allegations prove to be true, then you would have done the right thing. If you do nothing, it appears that you are upholding this man in what he has been doing, and you, by choice, will go down with him. What is done in the dark will come to the light.

From what we know of Mrs. Joyner, she is a gutsy lady who will stand for what is right, and will fight for the good of the kids. So do the right thing Dr. Mayo and appoint a qualified principal to Hillhouse who will do the right things the right way. When the right thing is done the truth will come out. We,the staff at Hillhouse are coming together for right. Can you fire all of us and leave this inept overseer and his cronies in place? From where we sit Dr. Mayo, it appears that you are condoning the practice that he (the overseer) is practicing instead of helping the students and staff. Where are your ethics? Where do you draw the line? Your inaction in keeping this overseer in place is baffling to say the least. Respect is valuable and you are rapidly losing it.

Concerned Teachers

posted by: westville man on January 6, 2012  4:37pm

I certainly hope that NHI has verified that these are indeed “concerned teachers” under the name of “appleblossom” at HHHS and not some outside family or friends posting here.
While i appreciate the need for anonymity, i assume that veil is dropped when someone claims to be directly involved in the story at issue.

posted by: Brian M. on January 6, 2012  5:11pm

What’s surprising about this is how - once some actual reporting was done - nothing in Paul Bass’s original stories about this case really hold up.

It makes me think the NHI was deliberately muddying the waters by trying to turn this into a DeStefano story even though no real investigative reporting had been done and no real evidence pointed in the direction of that narrative.

posted by: John Doe on January 7, 2012  12:01am

The Tenex issue is not, and I repeat, is not a school wide issue. Tenex is a technology issue from within 54 Meadow St. This has been an ongoing problem for years that the Technology Department has known about and failed to act on.  This goes beyond just a system glitch: the company that owned and sold Tenex to the BOE is no longer in existence. The remainder of Tenex system has been purchased by another company. Tenex has been under financial stress for some time and has never implemented or released system fixes for the Tenex software.  While the New Haven BOE Technology department leadership has known about this for some time now, they have failed to report these findings to upper management (Will Clark and/or Reginald Mayo).  Had this been reported, Clark and Mayo would have had the information needed to make the decision to change from legacy Tenex system to a web based version of today’s standards.

posted by: William F. Anderson on January 7, 2012  1:05am

Hillhhouse is facing a major crisis—a multitude of issues which compound and distract from the goal of trying to teach the students of Hillhouse : a huge grading scandal/ controversy, a principal accusing a respected veteran administrator with conspiring with the mayor to oust him for political reasons, the principal publicly challenging the mayor,deans allowing kids to fight in the school, deans fighting each other over the issue of allowing kids to fight in school, rampant teacher anger, apathy, frustration, fear and dissatisfaction and unrest over Carolina’s leadership of the school, the possibility that several hundreds of students grades and transcripts may be inaccurate, and kids focused on the public discussions and debates about their school in the press and in the community.
Dr. Mayo and the Board better check out what is going on at Hillhouse more closely before the staff rebels in more ways that using up their sick days!
If the Hillhouse faculty took a vote of support or confidence in Mr. Carolina’s leadership, it appears that a majority of the staff would vote against him

posted by: first observer on January 7, 2012  1:23am

To appleblossom:

1. The seasoned staff at Hillhouse High you so applaud was responsible for the achievement of getting the school ranked as one of the 10 worst high schools in Connecticut.  Principal Carolina’s goal, from the beginning, has been to improve that.

2. It is absolutely appalling for you to so deliberately and repeatedly use the loaded term “overseer”—a term so obviously harking back to the days of black slavery—when you speak of him, one of the most accomplished black men in our city.

If you are an indication of the obstacles he has faced in trying to redirect a recalcitrant staff at Hillhouse, I say more power to him.

posted by: James Hunniro on January 7, 2012  10:11am

The overseer is the Mayor trying to run the school system! Let Mayo truly run the school system….John Dow did not let the overseer Mayor run him! He ran the school system for the kids, parents, and Teachers….every time African American Principals get in a position
the old [...] go tell the overseer! Concern Teachers use your names and stand behind Mrs, Joyner if you believe she is correct! most of you live outside New Haven anyway! Mr. Carolina is making people work who have not worked in years that’s what the problem is. Any time Young African American males are appointed jobs at the NHBOE they are thrown to the wolves!

posted by: Snoopy on January 7, 2012  10:13am

I wonder if the Tenex was just adjusted to lower grades at HHS to make school look bad. No indication it increased grades so it makes me wonder if some deliberate tampering was done. Why hasn’t it increased grades?? Why isn’t grade lowering an issue and discovered in all the schools? As Henry Lee once said, “something is not right.” I would hope that Mayo knows how Tenex works.  If so why call for (Destefano’s) emergency meeting without the professionalism to notify Mr. Carolina.  I feel Kermit’s constitutional rights have been violated. From what I’m reading Carolina has NO access to Tenex. [...]  I hope I get to read of a multi million dollar law suit that Mr. Carolina won for all this.
[...]

posted by: Snoopy on January 7, 2012  10:37am

Just wondering….........if it was all over New Haven in 2007 that Mayo would be gone at end of school year, if this isn’t an initiative of Destefano to kill two birds with one stone.
Mr. Carolina for not supporting / taking picture [...], and Mayo since he ? was on hit list for some time.
Hmm…..Just Wondering.

posted by: Noteworthy on January 8, 2012  3:38pm

Brian M:

There is no deviation from the original story - this is just the next chapter of it. Do you really think DeStefano contributor Attorney Dugas would ask Carolina about the implicit threat in DeStefano’s odd “You Were There” note?

Your can’t seem to quibble with this story so you go back to harangue on a main component of the previous story. In doing so, you are willing to accept a whole series of coincidences - Carolina buddies endorse Kerekes; Carolina runs in roadrace; Carolina receives what appears to be a threatening note; the picture that allegedly was to accompany the awkward missive is in fact missing; the thumb drive is erased; and other top staffers of DeStefano get the same mysterious note; followed by a sudden allegation of grade tampering by a poorly performing assistant principal; the non-emergency emergency meeting which discloses the Hillhouse witch hunt by proxy.

If a crime had the same set of coincidences, the cops would be arresting somebody. Nice try though.

AppleBlossom - You speak of all these dedicated long term teachers and staff at Hillhouse. HH is a drop out factory, nationally recognized too I might add. Sounds to me like Carolina is doing exactly what reform is all about - demanding better. You sound wistful for the good old days of shootings, mayhem and nobody caring what the outcomes at the school were. Get over it or retire. And by the way, I take extreme umbrage with your term “overseer.” It engenders the very worst of our history. You would have best used it in relation to DeStefano and his cadre of black preachers whose embrace of plantation politics has sentenced a whole generation of children and their parents to a lifetime of poverty and problems.

posted by: Brian M. on January 9, 2012  1:10am

@Noteworthy

...

I have no doubt that you believe the mayor’s note was a threat; you (and others) are always ready to read whatever the man does in the worst possible light. It is not a surprise to learn that you hate him.

It was a surprise that the NHI assumed that its readers all shared this view, asking us all to suspend common sense and believe a story that wasn’t supported by facts and only added up if you believed that there was a massive conspiracy in City Hall. A threat on mayoral stationery, followed by retroactively manufacturing other notes and making up a big story about a road race.

You might think it’s reasonable. Paul Bass thought it was reasonable enough to print. I thought it was bullshit that wouldn’t pass muster in a Journalism 101 class.

Apparently Carolina knew something was up with grades. Funny that he didn’t mention it last week when he was insisting this was all a big smear/hoax and the NHI was spinning stories for him to distract its readers from the issue.

It’s one thing for the comments section to be hijacked by the most divisive, strident readers of this site who curse DeStefano with every breath.

It’s another thing for the news section to cheer this attitude on by printing unsupported one-sided speculation that hinges on flimsy reporting and a viciously negative caricature of a politician.

The anti-DeStefano bias on this site has gotten out of hand. It’s the tail that wags the dog, and it’s poisoning your ability to do a straight news story.

If it was just me reacting to those stories, I might take a step back. But there were other comments, and other readers saying the same thing. As one friend asked after reading the article about the note: “Does Bass think we’re stupid?”

[Editor: Thank you for the Journalism 101 class. Hope to enroll in it some time!

[When the Independent quotes one side of a story, then another, does that really mean that we’re “assuming” that readers will believe just one side? Carolina and Jefferson were quoted saying—in public, then in interviews—that an event occurred one way. John DeStefano was interviewed in depth saying it didn’t happen that way.

[I didn’t realize readers were so stupid as to be unable to distinguish between a news story that presents two sides of a controversy, on the record, from both public figures involved; and a story that advocates one view. You’re suggesting I took one side on that story rather than reporting what both Carolina/Jefferson and DeStefano were saying and the evidence they were presenting. The way I was taught, it would have been irresponsible, and not real news reporting, just to quote the people Brian M. agrees with and not people Brian M. disagrees with. Back when I took Journalism 101 in real newsrooms, we were taught that when major news breaks, you cover it, even if blind partisans of both sides have conniption fits to see the other side quoted and then draw up conspiracy theories about how the media expects you to believe only the other side. (We saw a lot of that during last year’s campaign. Both sides were convinced we were supporting the other because we—heaven forfend!—covered each the other. It drove you and others like you on both sides out of your mind.) There’s also another maxim Journalism 101 used to teach about what happens when you “assume” too much—for instance, assuming in this case that a reporter believes one side or the other. As usual, the groupies have made incorrect assumptions about what the reporters on this story believe or don’t believe. Until I get the time for continuing education to update my old Journalism 101 lessons, I fear I may have to continue pursuing the notion that readers are in fact not stupid, but able to look at facts and draw conclusions and hear all sides without losing their minds. Fortunately for followers of this new Journalism 101 school of thinking, Fox News, MSNBC, as well as propaganda machines controlled more directly with political parties and politicians provide an endless stream of comforting world-view reinforcement that allows people to skip dispatches from the real world.]

posted by: streever on January 9, 2012  10:23am

Brian M.

While I don’t agree with every decision the NHI makes, I think as a matter of common sense it is highly unlikely that they have ever done as poor a job as you describe.

There is room for growth—for instance, in moderation—they allow completely anonymous names to make serious allegations/claims about specific individuals without fact checking, but, they won’t let me name the two individuals (one of them a top mayoral employee, on staff time, doing election work) who I overheard cutting a very political deal at Clark’s Dairy. I also caught one of the Mayor’s appointed staff—on work time—posting fabrications on the NHI in the comments section about the Route 34 process, and that was similarly not printed.

That example serves two points—one, it establishes that the NHI does have room to grow and evolve in my opinion—I’m not mindlessly pro-Bass (although I respect the man and believe in his work). My nuanced view of Bass supports my point number two, most relevant to your complaint—it illustrates that they do not present every unsubstantiated rumor and opinion which is anti-mayoral.

You may believe they do, because you have a certain view of the DeStefano administration. As someone who has worked within that administration and with those administrators, however, I have witnessed a great deal of corruption, “politricks” as 3/5ths would call them, and unethical, inappropriate behavior.

Some of the worst offenses have never made it into these pages.

I really think if you’d had the personal experiences that I and many others who have door knocked, volunteer, or contributed to the John DeStefano machine have had, you’d have a more nuanced view of this and understand why something which may sound outlandish to a stranger is owed equal time in the paper.

posted by: William F. Anderson on January 9, 2012  10:26am

Teachers at Hillhouse have legitimate concerns about the leadership at Hillhouse and the direction the school has been going in the past year. They do feel threatened, bullied, intimidated, frustrated and demoralized.
The total burden for student success is placed on their shoulders. When students fail to come to school and fail to work and study, the teachers are branded failures.
Teachers at Hillhouse are pressured to give students passing grades in order to obtain a satisfactory evaluation. Poor teacher evaluations can and lead to job termination. What happens when you tie teacher evaluation to students’ grades and test scores? You get fraudulent and deceptive STUDENT evaluations.
Some may question, challenge and doubt the postings on this site about what is happening at Hillhouse, but when numerous individuals report the same things about the school, it would appear that there is some truth behind these allegations.
Many of the issues about student grades at Hillhouse are not exclusive to Hillhouse. Teachers throughout the New Haven public schools experience this pressure to make sure no students fail. Failure should not be an option, but that should be the students’ mantra and their families’ and the community’s as well.
A pressured, dictatorial, threatening, divisive environment is a difficult and stressful one in which to work. Teachers do not do their best in that kind of work environment. This is Hillhouse today and the students will suffer as a result.

posted by: LOL on January 9, 2012  11:56am

I can attest that teachers at some schools are bullied by administrators, who are being bullied by downtown to raise test scores.  All the district cares about is test scores.  Period.  It could care less about developing the whole child.  The public wants to know why kids and, in some cases, adults solve problems through the use of guns and bloodshed.  Well, it’s because the focus in this district is merely on test scores (because higher test scores mean money from the gov’t).

I liken NHPS to the NY Yankees in terms of demands and the KC Royals in terms of resources.

NHPS brass demands urgency and accountability from teachers (interestingly, it doesn’t take nearly as hard-line approach with parents).  There are near-daily walktrhoughs by demanding administrators and weekly walkthroughs by “experts” hand-picked by the district to nitpick teachers on silly things like whether a military-like schedule is being followed (Kindergarteneras are stuffed in classrooms for 2-3 HOURS straight—with no snack or recess, forced to do an hour of writing, an hour of math, 45 minutes of language arts).

However, the district over crowds classrooms, cuts classroom paraprofessionals and cuts classroom supplies while spending on useless literacy and math coaches, and countless supervisors who don’t even work in any of the schools.

It’s sickening.

posted by: Threefifths on January 9, 2012  3:27pm

posted by: William F. Anderson on January 9, 2012 9:26am
Teachers at Hillhouse have legitimate concerns about the leadership at Hillhouse and the direction the school has been going in the past year. They do feel threatened, bullied, intimidated, frustrated and demoralized.

This maybe true of what you say or It may not.But this story is not talking about Teachers.This story is talking about a Grade Changing Probe.

posted by: LOL on January 9, 2012  6:04pm

@threefifths—This story most certainly does pertain to teachers because many teachers are being bullied into teaching strictly to the test to achieve desired test results, or else lose their jobs.  What this city might—might—produce as a result is a swarm of barely proficient test-takers who won’t know how to resolve real-life issues through effective communication.  But, hey, they’ll at least be able to identify an author’s message.  I’m sure that will come in handy in the workforce.

posted by: Threefifths on January 9, 2012  6:58pm

@LOL Please show me were in this story that it is talking about teachers being are bullied into teaching strictly to the test to achieve desired test results, or else lose their jobs.I don’t see it.I do agree with you that testing students is not the answer.

posted by: Eunice Garley on January 9, 2012  7:39pm

i honestly do not see MR. Carloina’s fault in this situation. He did what any caring teacher would do if they see their student’s potential being threatened. In College or even in high school if a student is struggling through a course, teachers sometimes offer extra credit, or after school help to imimprove student’s grade. If an educated person really thinks about this matter my point above should be quite clear. In my AP Lit class taught by Mr. Nelken we were discussing this issue and hearing a lot of different points of view. The mayor just needs to focus more on the serious events that are destroying our city,for example Schools, and youth Such as gun violence, drug dealing, or the very high unemployment rate

posted by: Teresa on January 9, 2012  9:00pm

Wow, thank you LOL you are so correct only the Mayors cronies and their friends get the jobs
I have watched this happen over and over. ... The name of the game is ppatronagehiring! The Literacy Dept. is full of patronge hiring which is run by the former Director of the Reading Dept. Just think of all the kids who could have attended college, but their grades were mmiscalculatedbecause of an out dated system. I hope some of these young people realize what is going on especially recently graduated seniors.

posted by: William F. Anderson on January 9, 2012  9:39pm

To three-fifths and others:
This story is about a grade changing probe at Hillhouse, but my point has always been that student grades and their legitimacy generally has been compromised because of pressure placed on teachers to give more passing/ satisfactory grades. This is not simply a Hillhouse concern, it is an issue facing the entire New Haven school system.
Inflated grades do great harm to our students. They are a grand facade, a great lie which makes for an appearance of academic success and progress, but often these grades do not reflect what the students should have learned.
If grades were changed by anyone at Hillhouse, this is to be condemned. Academic fraud and dishonesty by any administrator, teacher or school system cannot be tolerated. But when there is a pressured atmosphere in which teachers feel coerced to give better grades when students have not actually learned the course subject matter or earned those grades, the grade changing probe needs to be expanded far beyond one school, one principal, and one assistant principal.

posted by: LOL on January 10, 2012  7:47am

@William F Anderson—Thank you, well said and very true.

posted by: Don'tCare2Much That'sTheIrony on January 31, 2012  9:40pm

Why is it that Mrs. Joyner has remained so taciturn during the process of these investigations? We are yet to hear from her or her side of the story. I respect her as a school official. Hence, I was expecting her to comment on at least one thing that has been said since these events. I am very disappointed in her. Also, it seems to be that she did not take the time out to review the existing Tenex problem. If so, why bring up allegations against the school’s principal about grade tampering when you were not doing your job to begin with; and when he does not have access to the Tenex system?

My other concern is about the other students who graduated. What happened to those who graduated with transcript reports that had inaccurate information?

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