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He Was Where?
by Paul Bass | Dec 27, 2011 2:34 pm
Posted to: Schools, School Reform
Kermit Carolina ran in a road race. He didn’t attend a mayoral challenger’s press conference. At the heart of an exploding schools controversy is this question: To which event was Mayor John DeStefano referring when he sent Carolina a note?
DeStefano sent the handwritten note to Carolina, principal of Hillhouse High School, in September.
“Kermit,” it reads. “You were there. John.”
Carolina charged that DeStefano wrote the note based on a false rumor circulating that Carolina had attended this campaign event held by mayoral challenger Jeffrey Kerekes. Carolina presented the note as evidence that a bizarre “emergency” Board of Ed meeting hastily called the Friday night before Christmas was an opening salvo in a campaign to punish him in retaliation. The meeting concerned unconfirmed charges of isolated instances of grade altering at Carolina’s school; the charges were brought by a Hillhouse administrator, a friend and neighbor of the mayor, who has clashed with Carolina.
In an interview Tuesday, DeStefano insisted he sent the note along with a photo he took of Carolina running in the 5K Labor Day Road Race. He sent several such photos of the race to people, he said. He sends hundreds of such notes to people each year.
Through his adviser in this controversy, Michael Jefferson, Carolina said the note arrived in his inter-office mail weeks after the race, soon after the Kerekes event. He said he doesn’t remember any photo accompanying the note.
So DeStefano was running through folders of old photos in his office Tuesday morning trying, without success, to see if it remained there. He’d erased his photos from his hard drive. On Monday, a federal holiday, he was at Walgreens, where he’d had his road race photos developed, asking if the photos remained in their system. No luck.
“I did what I thought was a nice thing—send him a photo with a nice note—which I have sent you, which I have sent hundreds and hundreds of other people,” DeStefano said.
The hunt for a seemingly innocuous photo fits into a more significant quest: To answer the question of whether the school board’s response to a grade-alteration charge involved just well-intentioned fumbling of a hot-potato emerging controversy, or whether delayed campaign politics and political retribution is trumping concern for kids’ education in the city’s school-reform drive.
“It’s not ‘kids first’ [the board of ed slogan]. It’s politics first and vindictiveness that has us here,” Carolina said at Friday night’s emergency meeting. “This is a political lynching. The mayor has been a bully since he’s been in office. He attempts to intimidate me to become political, to come out and take pictures with him, and he chose this opportunity to put a cloud on me.”
“It raises questions about whether this guy [DeStefano] is really about reform,” attorney Jefferson said in an interview Monday. “The mayor saw this as an opportunity to retaliation against Kerm because of his sincere belief that Kerm was against his reelection bid because he is friends with [mayoral critic] Gary [Highsmith] and myself.” Jefferson, a close personal friend of Carolina, endorsed Kerekes at the Sept. 21 campaign event and played a prominent role in the challenger’s campaign.
“There’s no political retribution here,” DeStefano responded. “Kermit has done some good things at Hillhouse High School. No doubt about that. There was an assertion made about grade changes. That has to be checked out” in the interest of “transparency.”
Where’s The “Emergency?”
Transparency? Retribution? The two sides had two takes on why the Board of Ed called an “emergency meeting” in the first place Friday night.
Officials quietly had notice of the meeting posted on a bulletin board in the city/town clerk’s office after the office closed to the public Thursday night, at 5:07 p.m. The notice referred to an emergency meeting to discuss “grade-altering” allegations concerning a “high school.” Carolina had no word about the meeting; he learned about it the next day from the Independent.
The allegation came from an administrator who reports to Carolina, Shirley Love Joyner. It allegedly concerned three instances of a student’s grades being changed, according to Superintendent of Schools Reggie Mayo. Carolina said Joyner brought forth the charges because he had been confronting her with job-performance criticisms. (Jefferson said Monday they included misuse of time sheets for a secretary. Joyner could not be reached for comment.)
“One administrator challenged me on a number of occasions because of my challenge to have her be better for the kids,” Carolina said. “Unfortunately that administrator has chosen to take retaliatory action against me, Hillhouse, our school.”
Carolina came to Friday night’s 6 p.m. meeting to defend the school. He noted that the board rarely holds emergency meetings—even when a student gets shot to death, for instance, or allegations arise about official misconduct at other schools.
He blamed the mayor, a school board member, for the public meeting.
Superintendent Mayo said he called the meeting in order to be “transparent.” It was felt that Joyner’s allegations were going to become public soon. Mayo wanted to keep his board abreast of the situation from the outset.
Carolina said the school board had been given information about only one of the three alleged grade-alteration instances. He provided the Independent copies of the transcript in that case. It shows the student getting low grades. Then two English courses with As were added. The student had taken those courses over the summer at Riverside Academy, according to Carolina and Jefferson, in an effort to boost his grades. At first the Hillhouse computer system had trouble recording the course credit because the course codes didn’t match. Eventually staffers were able to get the system to record the grade. That’s what changed, Carolina said. (Public school parents are familiar with the school district’s computer system woes, especially when it comes to registering credits from approved courses taken at other schools.)
His most explosive charges involved politics. He produced the handwritten note from DeStefano (pictured at the top of the story).
Friday night, first told of the note, DeStefano was caught off guard. He said he was sure it had nothing to do with campaign politics. But he couldn’t remember why he had sent it. He sends them all the time to people, he said.
He later had an “aha” moment when his chief administrative officer, Rob Smuts, sent him an email on Christmas Eve. Smuts remembered receiving the exact same note from DeStefano along with a photo from the annual Labor Day road race.
DeStefano then remembered seeing Carolina in the race and taking his photo. DeStefano’s son and another son’s girlfriend were running that day. So the mayor stood by the finish line taking photos of people he knew.
“Here’s one I didn’t send,” DeStefano said Tuesday morning while poring through his collection of road race photos. “She didn’t look too good.”
(See who ran in the race, including Carolina, here.)
“That’s a distraction. He’s talking about a road race, [but the card] was sent right after the [Kerekes] press conference,” responded attorney Jefferson.
The Kerekes press conference, at Lincoln-Bassett School, took place on Sept. 21, weeks after the road race. Carolina remembers getting the card soon after that, following rumors going around town that he had attended the event.
Jefferson also said Carolina never received a photograph with the card. The card did not contain any specific reference to “there.” (Since Friday night’s board meeting, Carolina has referred questions about the case to Jefferson pending further developments.)
“I know he wasn’t at the press conference,” DeStefano responded Tuesday. “We send people to other people’s press conferences. Sometimes we film them. You know we do that. Everybody does that. Cedar Hill Resident filmed Friday night [at the emergency board meeting].”
The election’s over and irrelevant to any of the past week’s events, DeStefano said. “I won.” He said he did return a call Wednesday night to Joyner; she had called him about the allegations. But she had already brought the matter to the Board of Ed, which had begun investigating, he said. The fact that they are friendly neighbors had no bearing on any decisions, he said. “Shirley Joyner is saying a lot of things,” and he has no idea if they’re true, he added.
DeStefano said that photos always accompany the cards he sends; they fit right in the envelope.
If Carolina had somehow “gotten the note without a photo, I would understand [him thinking], ‘What the hell is this?’”
DeStefano added that he has always supported Carolina’s work at Hillhouse, attending championship basketball games when Carolina was the coach.
Carolina—who has given reporters free rein to observe the school without monitoring or subject approval—has instituted wide-ranging changes since taking over as principal in the 2010-11 school year, with a special emphasis on upping expectations and standards for black males and for students most at risk of failing. He has instituted the granting of “varsity letters” for academics; he has brought in adult mentors who overcame challenges teens are facing today. He also had teachers schoolwide train in and then put into place an intensive every-period, every-day writing program.
Carolina has also developed close relationships with students in danger of succumbing to the street life. He had been trying to help several young men who have been murdered in the last year; he had given Antonio Holloway a suit and sent him to a job interview just days before his Christmas Eve homicide, for instance. Earlier this month he presented DeStefano and Mayo with a plan for identifying the most at-risk kids and developing a “wrap-around” program of support for them.
Allan Appel contributed reporting to this story.
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This story just underscores what I, and thousands of other New Haven residents, have for the Mayor and City Hall: contempt. This grade-changing scandal would not have played out so big and insane had we had any faith in the city or the BOE. It seems that every week there is another scandal, another lie, and another murder. This is certainly not the city I moved to with hopes of raising my children among history and beauty.
I have no idea who is telling the truth here, but the mayor’s version seems more plausible.
What I would like to know more about is if the grade was changed. Can the Independent investigate that aspect?
Vanessa hit it on the head. This city is just poison, and I’m taking the first chance I can to pack up my family and get out. It’s so sad.. New Haven has so much potential to be great.
An “aha” moment? You’ve got to be kidding me. The only thing transparent here is this mayor’s vindictiveness. If he couldn’t first recall the context of the message one has to wonder about his competency to perform other mayoral duties. Looking more and more like a SNL skit.
Everyone should be innocent until proven guilty, but it is naive to think that grade altering doesn’t happen in New Haven, or elsewhere, i.e., it isn’t just cities but also affluent suburbs. I’ve heard horror stories from teachers. It makes me sad and angry.
People should be able to endorse whom ever they please with out repercussion! THIS IS AMERICA!
posted by: Ora on December 27, 2011 3:21pm
Maybe this will stop the mayor from any other thoughts of retaliation against city employees who choose to support who they fill is the best candidate for whatever elected post! Unfortunately, I doubt it.
I still have a difficult time understanding how his ever growing young administration can continue to work and stay committed to him considering his immeasurable ego,outrageous threats that have been going on for years and running interference within departments by trying to micro manage them and doing serious damage while he is at it.
Any half way decent manager either has left (example Chief Lewis) or is planning to leave. The rest, just go figure???? It is either the money or they just have gotten use to being what they are or doing what they do.
Again, don’t know you Kermit, but I am cheering you on. And the truth be told most likely there is going to be a big fat law suit once again because of this mayor. As a taxpayer I am not happy. Although I don’t blame this principle I blame the mayor. When is enough going to be enough for the residents of New Haven. Our city is in the newspaper constantly and the bad has finally out-weighed the good. This mayor has become over the years all wrong for this city.
Writing again is on the wall!
Mr. Mayor now feels the need to go and search for the pictures at the store to which he had sent the Principle..his ” picture” Yes of course.
He has now stated positive comments in public on the Principle .Yes of course.
He sends everyone a picture with a note. Yes of course he does.
Now it was very clear in that Cedar Hill video it was a witch hunt for sure.
As the Mayor and his counterparts, who all sat there in silence, as not one single person shared any such positive word or a Thank you to this Principle for taking his time from his family on the holiday for the “emergency” meeting..Principle Carolina respectfully did.
The Mayor got caught like a deer in headlights with the presentation of his note he sent and is now back peddling..again and such bullying and manic behavior continues to be so apparent.
Respectfully, Citizens of New Haven it is your city to which you asked for him and voted him into office as your Honorable Mayor. So, again, Stop the whining about your taxes, your parking,your neighborhoods being unsafe, the Police Dept. and what you are all entitled too..
I grew up in Morris Cove moved and never looked back And I would not move there or back to New Haven if you paid me and although, I work in New Haven and love my job your City is a tragic sad mess all due to the Mayor that you have kept in office.
Lastly, yes, I am white, middle class,a single female and despite what people say..the homicides in New Haven no one family deserves even the victims.
it all stems from society and the way people are raised and loved and respected and their ability to honor themselves, please,know that no one is exempt from crime it is not ONLY a “inner city ” problem it is everyone’s problem.
Until, each member of society chooses to get out of their own worlds and help everyone in society and be a bit more understanding and caring of others and stop judging as some did of the recent homicide of the 19 yo and take back your city from your Mayor, remember it can also creep up into your perfect worlds too.. My prayers to the recent homicide victims family and very sorry for your loss.
A brief “Thank You” to Paul Bass and the NHI for this particular posting, but also for all of the articles and information provided through this medium. We are pleased to be able to access this information while we are away from NH during the holiday season. We have been following your stories and thought that the “emergency BOE meeting” cried out for a more comprehensive follow-up regarding the DeStefano note and all of the rumors we have been hearing. We thank you for this article.
It does not take a mentalist to recognize the Mayor’s claim about the road race note as being spurious at best. We heard the rumors that Mr. Carolina was at the Jeffrey Kerekes press conference. No doubt that rumor was started by a malicious underling who wanted to make his life miserable. Anyone who knows the Mayor knows that he is vindictive. If he wanted to congratulate Mr. Carolina for being at the road race, why not have the note say—‘Nice going Kermit; I saw you at the road race.’ That was not a congratulatory note. It was a note saying—you did something wrong and I know about it. How intimidating? How inappropriate? How Kafkaesque! We know Dr. Mayo is paid well, but how sad that he has to function as a tool of the Mayor’s whims and malice, especially when Carolina is trying so hard to turn Hillhouse into a real school?
Power to the people who are speaking out about their own Mayor..@ Vanessa Cedar Hill, David,Teflon John,What’s the big deal and Ora..Amen. This page should be filled with the alike citizens who feel the same discuss as we all do for this Mayor..
Thank you again NHI. You keep it real for freedom of speech..Keep up the articles good bad or in different….
Is this the same Shirley Joyner that worked to get the million dollars for Hillhouse, buys clothing for children and leads the city in minority scholarships? Is this the lady that is working with the fire department to get more minorities in the fire department? Is this the lady that secured an invitation for Mr. Carolina to attend a national conference in Washington, DC on saving urban males last spring? He declined.Joyner attended at no expense to the school district. Is this the same lady that has increased the college going rate at Hillhouse since she has been there? Is this the lady that ordered and hung collegiate flags at Hillhouse on a Sunday morning from 8 to 12 with a counselor and her husband? Is this the lady that physically transformed the entrance to Hillhouse with pictures of outstanding academic students? Is this the lady that created the records room at Hillhouse? Is this the lady that wrote the letter signed by Mr. Carolina in last year’s senior award program? Is this the same Shirley Joyner that Mr. Carolina asked to do the graduation last year because he was so impressed with what she did with the Senior Award’s program? Is this the same Shirley Joyner that has donated her own personal money for senior scholarships each year she has been at the school? And finally, is this the same Shirley Joyner that has received glowing evaluations and community recognition throughout her career?
As someone who has worked with SLJ I can attest to her incompetence. She plays favorites to the point where it is difficult to call her a professional. In addition she is incapable of taking criticism and I could see how she would use her close connections with Mayo and DeStefano if she felt threatened by her superior. She is a classic example of a well connected and WAY OVER PAID NHPS administrator. Kudos to Carolina for finally addressing an issue that has cost NH taxpayers so much over the years.
Good read. This event needs to stay reported through what ever out come. Thank You Mr. Appelt.
Instead of this Mayor focusing on jobs for New Haven residents, lowering taxes and reducing the astronomical crime and murder rate, he is spending his time and the taxpayers money on trying to trump up charges on a brilliant young educator.
This Mayor is a tyrant!
The idea that someone has to show this Mayor proof that he or she was or wasn’t in attendance somewhere is utterly appalling.
WHO DOES THIS MAN THINK HE IS?!!
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!!
I’m waiting for elected officials and clergy members (other than Sen. Toni Harp) who are willing to stand up against this tyrant. Where are you?
Kerm keep doing what you do best!!! You been making a difference in our lives before your principal days and your basketball coaching days….you was always for the community especially the youth!!! You always cared about are education and you wanted the best for us even college….But a lot of us let the streets get the best of us…Right now is the best time for us to come together and “Ice The Beef” It aint worth taking somebody life over these petty arguments, over a female,over some petty money or what ever it is…Its not worth killing eachother we need to learn how to talk and communicate with eachother and then learn how to make up and sort out our differences…The mayor dont care about our community and as long as people play his little game he’s gonna always win, sorry to say its all about the money…When was the last time the mayor did something for our community or did he ever do anything for the community??? BUT WE NEED CHANGE, START WITH THE MAYOR AND WORK OUR WAY DOWN… ITS GOING TO HAPPEN BECAUSE THE IMPOSSIBLE IS ALMOST HERE.(THE COMMUNITY COMING TOGETHER AS ONE) Kerm is setting an EXAMPLE NOW “THE MAYOR CANT BULLY KERM!!!!” Thats what we need to start doing stand up for ourselves and for whats right!!! WE CAN COME TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY AND MAKE THINGS BETTER BUT FIRST WE HAVE TO GET RID OF THE EGO’S, PRIDE, JEALOUSY, ENVY AND HATE.WE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO LOVE OURSELVES AND LOVE OTHERS THE SAME WAY THEN WE WILL START TO SEE PROGRESS. I LOVE YOU KERM FOR EVERYTHING YOU EVER DONE FOR US AND FOR THE CITY OF NEW HAVEN!!! ESPECIALLY THE YOUTH!!! GOD WILL CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU SO YOU CAN BLESS OTHERS!!!
Hmmm. Which is more likely; that a very intelligent mayor would put an intimidating thought IN WRITING and send it to someone he didn’t like, or that the mayor would write a bunch of brief notes to acquaintances running a popular road race and forget to include a photo with one of the notes.
The central issue here is whether or not there has been grade fixing at Hillhouse High and if so, who is behind it?
Secondary issues are:
Superintendent Mayo’s secrecy about the meeting (just why was he trying to keep it a secret?)
Mayor DeStefano’s note (can his presence at the race and photos to friends be verified?)
This is just silly.
Of course the note was from the race.
Do you think a guy like John DeStefano writes an intimidating letter and signs it? On letterhead? From the mayor’s office?
Grow up people. The conspiracy mongering is predicable, boring, and vapid.
And it’s so hypocritical for Kerekes supporters to accuse people of political payback when they spent the ENTIRE SUMMER AND FALL making enemies lists of people who were going to be fired and run out of town with pitchforks and torches when their guy won.
I appreciate your support for Mr. Carolina. I think that you speak from experience and the heart. I would like to suggest that change most often doesn’t come from the top it comes from within.
The reality is that both educators in question, Mr. Carolina and Mrs. Love Joyner, have done great things for the young people of this community in their tenure as educators. Their actions indicate that they genuinely care about affecting young lives positively. Unfortunately this situation has, for some, become a race issue by making the mayor the centerpiece, a political issue for the same reason, and even an age issue (as evidenced by someone in one of the comments calling her an “old school” administrator). What I do not understand is how the issue of potential grade tampering by a school principal, Black or White, young or old, democrat or republican, “King John” supporter or detractor, is systematically disappearing or at least taking a back seat in all of this?
I agree that the way the emergency meeting was scheduled is suspect. However, that still does not detract from the fact that allegations were made that need to be investigated and that the board of education needed to be informed about it. Would it have been better for the superintendent NOT to have called the meeting and allowed the whispers and rumors to circulate over the Christmas vacation week and the board members find out about it second hand? Had it been any other Friday but the one before Christmas would it have been as much of an issue? Had Mayor DeStefano not been in the room would it have been as much of an issue? Had Kerekes won and this exact same situation presented itself, would the mayor still have become the centerpiece of everyone’s ire for this particular situation?
What saddens me more than anything is the breakdown of the system of education all across this country as a result of more and more emphasis on standardized testing instead of authentic learning and the results of those tests as well as grades being tied to teacher and administrator evaluations and jobs. Ultimately the students are the ones suffering. Every single person responding to these articles knows of widespread grade tampering especially when it comes to athletes in high schools and colleges all over the country but you really don’t think it could possibly be happening here? Seriously?
Check out this quote from the Washington Post from July 7th this year after a state investigation of cheating: “The report said that cheating on 2009 standardized tests in Atlanta Public Schools was widespread and didn’t start that year, “significant and clear” warnings were ignored by top administrators, an environment of fear and intimidation ruled the system, and thousands of students were harmed. The cheating resulted primarily from “pressure to meet targets” in the data-driven system, it said.”
If you know anything about New Haven public schools you know that it is a “data-driven system” and that teachers and administrators are under “pressure to meet targets”. In fact, much of this quote could probably be applied to New Haven as well. ...“an environment of fear and intimidation” certainly sounds familiar. You might even suspect that there is some level of cheating going on as well because people are afraid for their jobs. It’s not a stretch of the imagination at all that a principal may be behind grade changes at his school. It’s quite unfortunate for the students that some adults in the situation do not adhere to the same standards of honesty, morality, respect for self and others, and taking responsibility for your actions that they “teach” their students.
Mr. Carolina stated that he was angry that he was not informed of the investigation and not allowed to conduct his own investigation. I don’t know the proper procedure and he may be right. But for me it does beg the question: If you are the one being investigated, why would you be informed and allowed to conduct your own “investigation”? How does that make sense? Someone stated that this investigation should be handled by the state. I’m inclined to believe you may be right but I do believe we should allow the process to play itself out within the district and for all the facts to be gathered and disseminated before it goes that far.
Let me state for the record that I am not Anti-Carolina and Pro-“King John” (since those seem to be the camps everyone is joining). I am simply looking at what I have read and witnessed thus far and offering food for thought. I’m not asking that you agree with my line of thinking either. I’m just asking that you think about it…
Please keep on this trail NHI. The Mayor’s explanation for the note seems like pure desperate hokum. This mayor knows everything he says, writes or does. I’m also sure the mayor ordered up the “emergency” meeting. He controls EVERYTHING. But Carolina turned the tables on DeStefano’s Christmas Eve Ambush. These political witch trials must be stopped.
It may be a bit late but after hearing about and reading this article I find it needed to voice my opinion.
First of all Mr Smuts conveniently finds a memo and pic after a long holiday weekend to coincide with the mayors.We all know Smuts is a smoocer of the mayors. Second I challenge the mayor to come up with all these photos.I’m sure Walgrens save the discs for these photos.Are we all to believe this cock and bull story that DeStefano puts forward 4 days later? Johny boy got caught in the obvious!!!Political retaliation. Shame on Smuts and shame on the mayor for this bs.Amazing what Johny does when he is called out.We should email Walgreens and let them know that their incompetence has been invoked in this story. Again we have nonsense political rhetoric !!!!
Folks this is real simple John (no longer my Mayor) is a pathological liar imminent This is yet another example, yes John was at the road race, I saw him there and yes he took photo’s of his kids, but NO he did not send out photo’s/notes, this note to Smuts was just fabricated this weekend to be a look alike, does Kermit’s note have a top space for a “photo” nope, case closed. John you’re a liar and the biggest person you’ve lied to all these years is John. To add to that John and Co. chose the eve of the biggest Holiday of the year to pull this revenge stunt, that just shows you’re MEAN pathological liar.
At first I thought a constitutional process was needed to eliminateeliminatear, however, the end of you’re lies is near, and New Haven will clean-up after your removed, I’ll leave it at that. Warning, those associated with this liar ought to jump ship because a net has been cast.
This is another distraction, the good news is the real news is imminent.
The Hillhouse administrator who people have been speculating about has now been revealed by the New Haven Independent. Shirley Love Joyner is a veteran administrator who sent her own children to the New
Haven public schools. Both of them are graduates of Hillhouse. Since being at Hillhouse Mrs. Joyner has done much to promote academic excellence and integrity. She has worked diligently to motivate students to do the right things to prepare for a brighter future: come to school, work hard, be responsible, make sound choices. Mrs. Joyner was instrumental last year in getting a Hillhouse alumni to donate a million dollars to provide $10,000 scholarships to Hillhouse college bound students for many years to come. She and her husband have donated thousands of dollars of their own money to assist college bound students with tuition or book costs. When many teachers beat the students leaving the building after the bell rings at the end of the school day, this administrator’s car is often still in the school parking lot when it is dark at 5 or 6 pm. Often her day at school starts before 7 am. She has even been known to work on weekends to promote the betterment of the students and the school at large. Annually she orchestrates a senior awards night which is one of the classiest events at Hillhouse which draws members of the community, and family and friends of Hillhouse seniors to witness all the scholarships and academic and services awards the students receive.
If being dedicated to students and putting in overtime without extra compensation or commendation to get the job done is “old school” then we need to go back to the old school way of doing things. But anyone who calls this administrator an incompetent, uncaring, detached, lazy check collector does not know and has never met this person. One should wonder why Principal Carolina has concerns about this person’s many years of loyal and dedicated service to the students of Hillhouse. Does he feel threatened by a mature, experienced, veteran educator who, unlike much of the rest of the staff, refuses to be disrespected and intimidated by the man who calls the mayor a bully? The teaching staff at Hillhouse is pitifully demoralized by actions of this principal and his mostly young and inexperienced administrative team. Teacher effectiveness in the classroom is affected by teacher morale. Good leaders know how to positively motivate their staff. Hillhouse has an extremely high teacher absentee rate. Bad morale makes for a very sick staff and the students lose in the long run. Mrs. Joyner has an excellent attendance record because she wants to be at Hillhouse and genuinely loves the students. Hopefully he devotion and commitment to Hillhouse has not been extinguished by this ordeal with the principal.
Let that facts come forth and let the chips fall where they may, but our primary concern must be that the students at Hillhouse have a safe, orderly and intellectual learning environment with all grades and test scores and all data based fully on facts, honesty and integrity. Otherwise a Hillhouse diploma will be meaningless and valueless.
To: all the Girl’s & boy’s in this story
My new years resoolution will be that our city fathers & mothers well get togather and work very hard on saving our youg people from all of these problems in our New Haven community relation.
I have fath that this can be done if we can put away some of personal/emotional feeling and put our heads togather and do the hard work
My personal moto is “When I help you get what you want I will automat get what I want”.(Lets try it)
So Smuts,the mayors go for conveniently remembers a memo like Carolinas.And the mayor thinks we are all idiotics to believe this nonsense.It was politically bullying at its best with the rest being a cma political bs.
Why does Johny think we are all idiots.Mayo too.Time for positions to change.Tired of all the drama in all our lives when it comes to what is best for our city.Whats going on now isnt!!!
Does anyone else notice that the Rob Smuts note says “You were there!”—note the exclamation point—and the Carolina note says “You were there.”—with a period? The first could be interpreted as a celebration; the second, if it really is about a different event, could be seen as a threat.
We do not yet know what the truth about all this is, although in time we probably will—but the coverage of school system stories over the past week, in particular, prompts me to pause for a moment of year-end reflection and recognize what an outstanding and important resource in the life of New Haven the Independent has become.
This is not news—for several years now, the Independent has been finding its stride, and, especially after this year’s election coverage, I think it’s fair to wonder how the city ever got along without it. Paul Bass deserves monumental credit (and, I hope, one of these years, a Yale honorary degree) for having conceived this thing in the first place, for recruiting and building a staff of smart, committed reporters, and for initiating this comments section, which operates with standards of civility.
I imagine that only a minority of New Haveners yet read the Independent, and yet, nevertheless, it binds the city together in a way (unlike Paul) I could not possibly have imagined beforehand. It’s worth stopping a moment to celebrate this and to wish all the staff continuing success in the new year and beyond.
(Now, as for the conscientious principal and the vengeful mayor, Kermit Carolina will still be around serving New Haven with dignity and fairness long after John DeStefano has finally, somehow, been put out to pasture, taking all his smear tactics and corruption along with him!)
With all due respect, John DeStefano’s explanation of his note is about as far fetched as is humanly possible. This note came to Carolina during the election and not long after that infamous press conference. If DeStefano didn’t include a picture as he alleges he did, perhaps he didn’t on purpose in order to give himself plausible deniability and still deliver the message.
As an observation about Rob Smuts’ newly unearthed note and its resemblance to Carolina’s - just LOL - a big one. And by the way, who writes such a dumb message with a picture? Seriously - what’s the message mean? One would think you would write: Congratulations…well done…thanks for supporting a worthy cause…Anything but YOU WERE THERE as if the person running in the photo was unaware they were there.
In any case..it stinks. If it stinks, it’s rotten. And it took this long to cook up this lie?
As for Shirly Love Joyner, if she had a concern, she should have brought it to Carolina as a first step. Did she? It appears not and if she didn’t it is both a violation of the chain of command and insubordination. It is very strange to circumvent your own school management and go directly to your friends at the BOE. It does not speak well of Joyner.
As important, the reaction of Reggie Mayo and the NH BOE - every single one of them - is a disgrace. There is not a lick of common sense nor the ability to raise a hand of caution before charging down this strange and twisted path. Where are the adults in the room? Where is the wisdom of age and experience? It is no wonder this group of do-nothings sit there month after month and oversee a school system in chaos; educational results and outcomes that are pathetic and lame and disgraceful. DeStefano and Torres have been on that board for years - Mayo has been spoon feeding these people for years as well.
If they had any decency, they would all resign.
I’m sure Love Joyner was involved in all those things you listed, but I can promise you it is highly dubious that she is solely responsbility for all of it. She single handedly got the fire academy? And single handedly got more kids in college? Come on.
The Mayor is ... running scare and he should be. He should have left things the way they were without responding with lies after lies. Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder can see that the man is lying and they are blind. Why don’t a reporter call Walgreen and see if the Mayor really dropped photos off. They have a data base that his name should pot up just like when you get a prescription filled. The reason that he is stating is a “bald face lie” It don’t add up. ... I’m sure there are more out there that is afraid to come forward. This man is got to go. The only way he will go is with a federal investigation. You can’t trust no one else to do it because he dole out favors to protect himself.
This actually seems like even-handed coverage. Good job, NHI. You’ve the let facts speak for themselves, and alone they express the unseemliness of this story - its “I smell a rat” quality.
Furthermore, I’d really like to see more of these letters that were sent from Destafano to compare how the language - the vagueness, the punctuation - matches or doesn’t match with the others.
Why a “you were there” in the context of a road race? Why not “good job” or “well done” or an additional smiley face, or something, anything?
“You were there” is strange congratulation for completing a road race.
Although writing “you were there” is not beyond the pale of reason, neither is the thought that, perhaps, the note Mr. Smuts furnished for this article was fabricated.
Just saying: it couldn’t hurt to compare this letters with a number of others, if they can be obtained.
After all, it’d be odd if these two notes were the only two that said “you were there.” And if all the notes said “you were there”, then it may vindicate Destefano, though not his eloquent note writing.
... my experience with men of Mr. Destefano’s generation and stature has shown that they often swear or curse when they want to throw a questioner off. It’s part of the disorder they suffer from. So saying “What the hell is this” while an accurate hypothetical response to a pictureless creeper-card, it is not appropriate for a Mayor to use that word. Thus the questioner gets a brief startled amazement that such a man would use such a word publicly, and it buys the Mayor time and energy to use to his advantage. It’s very common, actually. It is indicative of a lie having just been told, or about to be told.
“You were there.” is a “nice thing” you send to someone to congratulate them for their participation in a road race? Newsflash, John: THEY KNOW THEY WERE THERE. They don’t need it pointed out by you. And then he produces another note supposedly sent to ROB SMUTS of all people, someone who has been John’s ... for ages? Please. I wonder how much Christmas weekend brainstorming it took for them to come up with this story. Did you have to go to Staples to get a pen that matched, too, Rob?
... Oh, and one other thing. The Mayor keeps a file of hard copy printed photos, including ones that aren’t any good, but deletes all the digital files from his computer? Who does that in this day and age? None of this passes the smell test.
I think Mayor D may have been paraphrasing Woody Allen who said “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
This incident is drawing a lot of comments, but only one other letter from the mayor, conveniently provided by his personal assistant, similar to the one sent to Carolina. Anyone else willing to offer theirs into evidence.
There never was a detailed enemies list, or any list of people on the chopping block at the Kerekes Campaign. Why do you just make this stuff up? As for the unlikeliness that DeStefano would do such a thing - think again on that too. Hubris allows people like DeStefano to do all sorts of things. You nor I know the depths of viciousness of his past actions.
Handwriting is brain writing. While your conscious mind decides what to write, your subconscious mind determines how you will write. There are numerous characteristics such as the size of the letters, how much pressure is applied to the paper, the spacing of the words, punctuation marks, and the slant of the letters that can reveal a person’s personality. Not only can handwriting provide insight into a person’s character but a person’s writing style can also show if he is being deceptive. This is often seen in how the person writes the letter “O.” When inconsistencies appear within the forming of the oval this indicates the person may be secretive and possibly lying. FYI….
The photo of Rob was clearly taken from the grandstand where the mayor would be (where he usually is on this day since he always makes a speech before the race). Far be from me to defend the mayor but in this case, according to the time stats, Rob came in about 10 minutes before Kermit, and the mayor’s story is pretty much credible.
On to the real story. Is there rampant fixing of grades in the New Haven School system, and if so, who is doing it and why is Superintendent Mayo being so secretive about it?
Good job Paul! You were there. Keep giving him enough rope.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Who’s fixing grades in the New Haven School system and why is Superintendent mayo being so secretive about it?
I think the idea that “You nor I know the depths of viciousness of his past actions” is just not in touch with reality. He’s a politician, not Hitler.
This is absurd Kremlinology, and Carolina knew it would be bait for the NHI and the fever swamp comments section. Most of you would believe anything anyone says about John DeStefano.
When it comes to the mayor, this place is not much different from Fox’s take on the president. The road race story makes sense, but oh no, there must be some kind of conspiracy, because if DeStefano is evil and everything he does is evil, the note must be evidence of evil too.
It’s absurd. I’m sorry if that’s uncivil, but this is supposed to be a news site, not an anti-DeStefano blog where anything goes.
My issue with all of this is the way it was done and how it appears.
I personally, over the years have watched so many questionable things take place. (borderline shady).
And I just believe that the public has sadly come to the point of having to question things this administration does.
The way this meeting was called was a red flag. Making sure that we are all now watching, we can at the least make sure that this is done above the board. And making sure we know all the facts and not just the press release from JD’s office is a very important thing.
If there are more of these road race congratulation letters out there, I hope they are made available. I would be really surprised if they were all written with the language, principally because it would be lame letter writing on the part of the Mayor.
However, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Smuts’ was the only other letter produced written in that way. If this were the case, then it would be a pretty strong indication of coercion, corruption.
I think the onus is on the Mayor to demonstrate that the other letters were written in similar fashion.
...That’s the problem Brian he is a politician and a lying one at that.You see nothing wrong with it because you feel you are above the law and so does Johnny Boy’‘’‘’.Remember if you don’t post the right thing Brian he will send you a note stating” you din’t post what I told you because I saw it”” LOL””
The Mayor does not care about the students at James Hillhouse High School! Anyone who has worked there can tell you that. Everyday Hillhouse students and students all over the city miss out on their education because the Mayor refuses to hire substitute teachers. They currently pay $50 a day by the way while other town pay $80-$100. Every day students show up to empty classrooms with no teachers. Its not the teachers fault either. Everyone has family/health issues from time to time and the fact that the Mayor and downtown continues to ignore this issue is unacceptable. If you ask the students they will tell you of times when they went an entire year without a science teacher both in K-8 and High School because central office refused to address the issue. And they wonder why Capt scores are so low? The Mayor does not care about the students at James Hillhouse High School. Now there is finally a Principal who has the courage to stand up for his school and his students and the Mayor and his friends are scared!!
posted by: FacChec on December 28, 2011 12:03pm
The conditions as reported thus far of this story are innuendo, smokey mirrors and cover-up stories advanced by Mayo, DeStefano and Rob Smuts.
Sending a questionable congratulatory note to Smuts is one thing, However, the Mayor apparently did not see fit to send any such note to Wilbur Cross high school-er Isaiah Lee, who had the best time of New Haven-ers that finish, the winners time was 16:07, Lee’s time was 18:02.
So much for kids first.
Secondly, Former city hall staffer, Che Dawson finished with a time of 22:22, both better than Smut’s time, again, there is no indication he received a note with photo.
So much for congrats to other city hall staffers.
More importantly is the Fac that the Mayor saw fit on Dec. 5, 2011 @ Hillhouse High School, to met with Carolina and Mayo to discuss the following:
Out In the Hall, An Idea Is Born
“Ice 0the Beef”
The principal and the mayor talked about a new initiative to target students—young men—who are at risk of becoming involved in crime and violence.
DeStefano told Carolina to call the other two large high schools in town—Career and Wilbur Cross—and call the new police chief, Dean Esserman, to get the ball rolling.
conversely here, the Mayor and Mayo did not feel it prudent to first talk to Carolina, particularily so, as the Mayor said in this article:
“Shirley Joyner is saying a lot of things,” and he has no idea if they’re true”.
It’s a sad commentary when an assistant principal making 112K with 36 years of
experience, cannot accurately report to her superiors or the Mayor a claim of grade changing going on under the watchful eye of Carolina.
I think the accusations were manufactured by Joyner and politically exploited by Mayo and Destefano, as we shall see, there own detriment.
My take on this was posted previously on a related piece and i wont reiterate it here.
But what I do want to convey is that those who dont believe that this is the way JD plays politics simply fail to connect the dots.
When they dedicated the athletic field at Hillhouse to Floyd Little, Kermit Carolina was not called upon to speak.
He is the sitting principal of the school and a former championship coach at the school. Yet he is silenced. Sure, just another coincidence, right? I’ve seen too much of this both personally and from many other unrelated people to think these things happen without reason. JD will gets his way and gets even all the time. I’m convinced of it and saddened by it.
You didn’t address your falsehood that the Kerekes campaign had an enemies list. It didn’t.
That said, you are welcome to ignore the connected dots and the picture it paints all you want.
It would be nice of the hundreds of other people “that Mayor Destefano photographed at the roadrace” came forward with their photo and note ,just like his chief administrative officer did ! Attention John , you’ve just hit an iceburg.
It is not surprising that the mayor didn’t congratulate Isaiah Lee because Isaiah is the Wilbur Cross High School student that Peggy Moore so badly mistreated. And what did the mayor do? He congratulated Peggy for her very bad behavior. But then, Peggy was a contributor to the mayor’s campaign.
You are all delusional. You continue to believe anything the Independent prints that vilifies the Mayor while ignoring any other possible explanation.
If Mr. Carolina received this “threatening note” months ago, why are we just hearing about it after there are charges of grade fixing at his school? If he really was a Kerekes supporter and anti-DeStefano, why wouldn’t he bring this to light during the campaign?
I’m extremely disappointed that the Independent and its readers are devoting more time to this note than the actual issue of grade fixing.
I clicked on the Cedar Hill Resident link and didn’t get to a video of the meeting. Am I the only one that had that problem?
So let me get this right. You all think that:
1. John DeStefano, a longtime political veteran, took out a piece of official stationery to write a threat to a school principal who attended a rival campaign event - knowing that it could be used against him in the middle of a re-election campaign by the opposition and the press.
2. Kermit never mentioned this to anyone.
3. Panicked, the mayor retroactively wrote Rob Smuts an almost identical letter to cover his tracks a few months later.
4. The grade change allegations are not worth investigating because this is all some elaborate scheme to punish a guy for supporting the losing candidate in the last election.
5. Anyone who doesn’t believe the previous storyline is also being politically threatened.
You guys are so blinded by your hatred of John DeStefano that you don’t realize how absurd this is.
You’re in Roswell, fluoridation, tinfoil hat territory.
Thank you NHI for bringing it all to the public..the Good and Bad it is quite interesting yet very sad to see each day more and more are posting their disappointment of the Mayor and commonalities.
Thankfully you have brought the awareness to all and more will indeed express their experiences as well.
Perhaps, the citizens of New Haven are finally getting it. They placed this Mayor in charge and their reality for their livelihoods in their own city is being tarnished. Their kids education, safety, jobs, Taxes,properties and their USA liberties and securities to live in a honest city run by a honest and ethical administration… Very sad…..
..Now to “Robn” respectfully, you must be kidding in your defense of your Mayor? Friend?
Again, the Mayor and the BOE including Mayo & Ms. Joyner have so obviously proved their made for T.V like movie Vendetta against the Principle. Obvious writing on the wall.
Perhaps, the evidence will show otherwise but, then again evidence from who the Mayor..the BOE?..... Who polices the police?..... Now come on….fair??..doubt it….
Yes, facts will come out sooner than later and your numerous posts concluding that the main issue is of grade tampering is another obvious denial on behalf of yourself and the few who are wrapped by this Bullying Mayor of New Haven….
His wrath of vindictivness that so many have stated seems to keep flowing do you not see this?
I personally know someone who has been in his admin meetings and it is his way or the highway and he has actually stopped a meeting with his threats of his way or not and meeting adjourned!!!!! Do you not see or hear the patterns here? ...
So, indeed I agree that if grade tampering has occurred then shame on all involved however, at the same time, indeed, if lies and cover ups,coercing,threats, intimidation and favoritism is being used by your Mayor for his ego ... then shame shame…
Reality is that if the Mayor of a city is considered crooked and treats others as indicated by the numerous citizens who have posted (tip of his iceberg) it will grow and grow, then, for sure every child and citizen of New Haven will be effected negatively by his every decision..be it ethical or not….
So would you not agree that the Mayor sets the tone for it all?
Something to think about indeed….and for sure all of it will come out in the wash and your main concern and posts on “grade tampering” will then be confirmed….
I feel over the last few months Kermit has been fed a whole lot of hogwash by Highsmith and Jeffereson- rabble rouser impressario. Therefore, I can understand how someone who is elevated to his position with the support of the Mayor and Mayo can suddenly think these same supporters are out to get him. The mayor has been known to develop, sharply critique and increase the responsibility of young staffers who show promise. Yes, nhi commentariat, even if those staffers remain politically passive in New Haven—at least in the short term. Kermit is going to be a good principal, but he and his boys also want to be political heavyweights in town. Their naivete is telling. At the end of the day, the people egging you on here will have moved on; Kerekes will have his practice; Jefferson will continue to do what he does; Highsmith will continue to make do in Hamden; and the nhi or other iterations will unearth new “scandals.”
The “you were there” meme is laughable. I think Paul Bass knows it too. Oh, the missing exclamation ! in Kerm’s note is an indictment of the Mayor! Oh, the formation of a certain letter is a dead giveaway of an ingrained lieteller! Here’s the thing people, the Mayor sends “creepy notes” to his adminstrators all the time; he sends articles he reads with chicken scratch all over it to get you to think about how other cities approach promblems; he sends chicken scratch about books that are of interest to him and which ought to be of interest to you! Dumb the story about the note. Even if he can’t find other road race notes, his practice of send notes is fairly verifiable.
All that said, I do wish you success and hope that you will be smarter in your approach, although I don’t know how one works their way back from the incendiary allegations leveled at their boss. You should welcome this review and push for an independent reviewer. The request for the press’s presence is absurd. I hope you are not expecting someone like a Paul Bass to show up and biasedly report in your favor. If there are misdeeds at Hillhouse and you had any part in it, the nhi will lay it all on the table. Anyone can say what they want about Bass, but he will accurately report the story and then cap it off with a nice orbit about your career.
At this point, too many egos are at play.
Seems someone managed to change the link for Cedar Hill Resident’s video (the video the link now goes to can NOT be a coincidence). But here’s the video:
If this link gets hacked, too, just go to youtube and search “nov 22 089.MOV”
I’m not joking. My disappointment with the mayor’s fiscal policy hasn’t destroyed my logic. BRIANM summed it up. It’s highly implausible that the mayor would write down a threat on letterhead and then try to cover it up with a fabricated similar letter. It’s highly plausible that there is grade fixing at NH Public Schools (especially since I’ve heard this story before).
Brian M - i am not a supporter of JD, that much I admit. But i dont hate him and think he’s done some good over the years for New Haven. By painting anyone who disagrees with him (or you) as “haters” or living in lala land, you are guilty of what you accuse others of.
As an aside, Kermit told many people of JD’s note when he received it- but he was going to just let it go as JD being JD. But now as things unfold, he sees where JD is going with this and wont take it lying down.
I have talked to cops, firefighters, teachers and citizens who’ve all felt the wrath of JD in a vindictive fashion. i have too. But as a 50 something professional, i know part of it is politics. But smearing Carolina’s name and reputation and the way it’s being handled isnt right.
Anon, Calling Michael Jefferson a “rabble rouser impresario”?? Do you know him? No, of course not. But what have YOU done for the community? Jefferson is right this moment running the Vanguard Tournament for high school kids, much of it out of his own pocket, to get them some regional and national exposure. He founded and runs Kiyama, a self-improvement program for young Black men with his own time and money. And he is a tireless advocate for the rights of powerless citizens who get trampled by the justice system which he does so either free of charge or at a fraction of the cost of other prominent white attorneys.
That’s only part of what he does. I’m sure you do alot too, right ANON??
i cant believe some of this name-calling finds it way thru NHI editors.
After hearing about the supposed lost pictures and them being unrecoverable from Walgreens ,as DeStefano claims, I contacted Walgreens corporate offices and received a call back this morning. Walgreens DOES have a service available to recover digital pictures that were processed at their stores.Upon request and a 60 dollar fee DeStefano could have in fact received copies or a cd of the questionable file.In addition he could have received a cd at processing time for a minimal fee.If it was so important about the photo then he could have backed up his and Smuts story with hard evidence. ...
Fac Chec you noted the following:
“It’s a sad commentary when an assistant principal making 112K with 36 years of experience, cannot accurately report to her superiors or the Mayor a claim of grade changing going on under the watchful eye of Carolina.
I think the accusations were manufactured by Joyner and politically exploited by Mayo and Destefano, as we shall see, there own detriment.”
First of all you got all the facts wrong about Joyner’s experience and her accuracy. ... How do you know that Joyner manufactured anything and what would you need to see to convince you that either she or Carolina is telling the truth. Compare their records over the past 20 years and maybe this will tell you something. ....
posted by: FacChec on December 29, 2011 12:54pm
“How do you know that Joyner manufactured anything and what would you need to see to convince you that either she or Carolina is telling the truth. Compare their records over the past 20 years and maybe this will tell you something”. ....
I don’t know a this point if Joyner Manufactured the grade changing story, I said in my post that “I think the accusations were manufactured by Joyner and politically exploited by Mayo and Destefano, as we shall see later on, to their own detriment.
I based my opinion on the Mayor’s statement quoted by the NHI….
“Shirley Joyner is saying a lot of things,” and he has no idea if they’re true”.
I felt that in view of the mayor’s uncertainty, why would he and Mayo not speak to Carolina first about the accusations, before calling an emergency meeting of the BOE on Xmas evening??
“what would you need to see to convince you that either she or Carolina is telling the truth. Compare their records over the past 20 years and maybe this will tell you something”. ....
There is nothing more to see at this time, a more recent story on this subject suggest a stale mate over meeting with the BOE Lawyer. This is not a deposition and I would not meet unless subpoenaed to do so.
I lean towards Carolina truth, I’ll tell you why, the NHI and NHR recently reported that 85% of New Haven graduates could not perform math reading and science once in college, with those facts in consideration, why would Carolina or any Principal, oversee grade changing, and to what end, changing one to three grades would not alter the lack of preparedness already revealed.
In as much as experience is concerned, Joyner has 34, not 36 years experience. Comparing records is not a measure of truthfulness.
Carolina has ten years of experience, but was chosen over Joyner as Principal of Hillhouse.
I hoped I have provided you insight into my thoughts with regard to your questions.
MAYBE this article will help the Mayor get back his ‘erased” pictures?
First, the mayor said he didn’t recall writing the note to Kermit. Now, the mayor says he did so after the road race. Disgraceful.
The mayor has had plenty of links to recover his pictures.Hopefully he will follow these blogs and produce something to show he is not the liar that we all feel he is.The pics are at Walgreens..Go get them and prove us wrong Johny boy..Show the evidence!!!!