Principal Calls For NAACP Probe
by Melissa Bailey | Sep 11, 2012 7:47 am
On the heels of a scathing report charging him with participating in transcript-tampering to help out student athletes, Hillhouse Principal Kermit Carolina swung back Monday with a call for a counter-probe.
Carolina held a press conference at James Hillhouse High School on Monday two weeks after the school board released a report charging him with participating in changing transcripts for three student athletes at his school. He has proclaimed innocence of all charges. He called on the statewide NAACP to investigate what Carolina called a political vendetta against him. Statewide NAACP President Scott X. Esdaile told the Independent he would pass along the request to the local chapter in order to avoid his own potential conflict of interest.
Click here to read the charges and Carolina’s initial defense.
Carolina and his attorney, Michael Jefferson, on Monday released a PowerPoint presentation analyzing the report. Click here to watch it.
In the presentation, Carolina flags language he believes shows that Floyd Dugas, the attorney hired to conduct the probe, had “a stunning disregard for impartiality.” The probe was launched after an assistant principal filed a complaint. Carolina has maintained the real motive in pursuing the investigation was political retribution for his failing to support Mayor John DeStefano’s reelection, a charge the mayor has denied.
“Tonight’s presentation was an attempt to demonstrate that Kermit Carolina is a victim of plantation politics,” Jefferson said in an email after the event. He said the presentation aims to show that the whistleblower, Shirley Love-Joyner, sought to “retaliate against Mr. Carolina with flimsy allegations because her duties were modified and her longstanding level of comfort at Hillhouse disturbed.”
Jefferson also called on the state NAACP to investigate an “abuse of power” on the part of the mayor and Superintendent Reggie Mayo, and to look into the quality of education at at Riverside Academy, a high school for kids who have trouble at mainstream schools.
The Riverside question is related to a charge against Carolina—that he allegedly struck a deal with Riverside Principal Wanda Gibbs to allow two football players to earn credits for summer English classes at Riverside instead of taking the more advanced classes at Hillhouse. The students had already taken English 1 and English 2, respectively, at Hillhouse; they scraped by with a D and a D-, according to Dugas’ report. After the students sailed through the Riverside summer classes, football coach Tom Dyer allegedly lobbied to have their summer school grades replace the grades they got at Hillhouse. Hillhouse staff refused to do so, but did change the description of the courses on the transcripts—allegedly with Carolina’s consent—from “summer school” English, which was considered a “basic” level, to “college-level” English.
Carolina denied striking any deal with Gibbs or endorsing the transcript revision; he said he left the matter to be handled by his staff. He added that he understood that all city high school classes were at “college level,” so the revision was not a substantive change.
On Monday, he raised the question of why Riverside, is offering “basic” classes, below the level of other schools.
He asked the NAACP to look into whether kids at Riverside, who are predominantly black and Hispanic, “receive the same quality of education as other students in the district.”
“If he wanted me to do an investigation, I would have to recuse myself, because I know all the players involved,” responded Scott X. Esdaile, president of the statewide NAACP, on Monday. He said he would pass along the request to Jim Rawlings, president of the New Haven chapter of the NAACP. Rawlings couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.
Reached Monday after the school board, Superintendent Mayo said he launched his probe not because of a political vendetta but because “I got a complaint on my desk. Obviously I’ve got to follow through with the complaint. They can press conference all they like, but the bottom line is there seems to be something going on over there.”
Mayo said Riverside provides “a good, basic education” for kids “that have had at-risk situations.” He said shifting the attention to the quality of Riverside Academy does not answer the question uncovered in the probe—“why did they send the kids there?” The students could have taken summer courses at Hillhouse, where they were already training in football and taking SAT Prep, Dugas’ report argues. It also argues they had no need to repeat English 1 and 2.
Meanwhile, Jefferson made bolder statements in what has become an increasingly bitter public fight: “We are not going to take this bullying on the part of the mayor and Dr. Mayo lying down. If they want a fight then we will accommodate them,” he wrote in an email. “What’s most troubling is the fact that Dr. Mayo continues to allow himself to be used simply to remain in the good graces of his political master!”
Mayo responded in a statement Monday night: “This is just another publicity stunt and a distraction from the real issue of grade tampering at Hillhouse. Serious allegations were made by a member of Kermit Carolina’s own staff and were substantiated by a mound of evidence. The report speaks for itself. The real victim is not Mr. Carolina, it’s the students he let down. Now it’s time to move forward and focus on what’s best for the students.”
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Dear Dr. Mayo,
What’s best for students is to have an elected superintendent, one that isn’t appointed by the mayor, and one which parents have a hand in electing.
5 of Joyner’s allegations that Dugas found “unsubstantiated” could have been dismissed had she simply talked to the teachers themselves. A 6th allegation on work study could have been resolved if she checked the records herself, as Dugas did.
And Dugas doesn’t call into question Joyner’s motives?? That’s insubordination and a reckless disregard for the well-being of the students at Hillhouse in general and Carolina’s reputation specifically.
The greatest red flag that something fishy is going on is this: the culture that Mr. Carolina is accused of promoting is the NORM throughout NHPS. The fact that he is being publicly accused of doing the same ole stuff that goes on in all schools (especially high schools) is proof that this is a political with hunt.
What is more unfortunate is that Carolina and Jefferson can never admit that, of course, so they have to play the race card - which is absurd, predictable, and a disgrace to all those who actually have been a victim of discrimination.
@ JohnTulin- this is not a card game, so there is no “race card”. If you dont believe race is a factor, so be it. Some of us do.
Read the Power Point made available by NHI in this article. Not much mention of race. Just a rebuttal to a flimsy, trumped-up report about a disgruntled ass’t principal.
There is no way the Superintendent of School should be elected by the voters of a community. There exist search committees to find and vet qualifications of interested candidates. These candidates are screened and a finalist hired by the Board of Education.
Now if you want to propose an elected Board of Ed (as opposed to the system in New Haven where the mayor appoints the Board)I think that’s a good idea. The elected Board can hire the Superintendent of Schools.
I lived in New Haven for 30+ years with its appointed board. I’ve lived in a suburb for 25+ years with an elected board. Politics is dirty. Here we have a First Selectman who automatically gets a seat on every Board/Commission. His mother is an elected member of The Board and both of them get to vote on the Pay Contract for school employees, which includes the father/husband of these two.
Either way you look at it, Reg Mayo wasn’t hired by the Mayor, but by a Board of Ed the mayor appoints. But Mayo has done a very poor job over the years and should go.
This is not an issue of race, it is an issue of ethics. Color has nothing to do with this scandal, honesty and integrity are on the line here. You have a black principal, a black whistle blower, a black superintendent and a predominantly black school where some people allegedly decided not to play by the rules. That’s not black enough for Carolina, Highsmith and Jefferson? Black people should not be expected to rally around and support those who commit unethical, illegal and unjust actions. They should not and they will not. Black people are not so foolish to follow anyone, black or white, simply at the dropping of THE RACE CARD! Something is rotten in the state of Hillhouse. Something is terribly wrong and has been terribly wrong for the past two years. Something stinks from 480 Sherman Parkway throughout the community. The students are the victims and continue to be the victims as long as the superintendent and the Board do nothing. How long will these distractions continue? How long will there be divisive appeals to parents, students and the community for support for one side or the other? NAACP intervention in this matter would be a joke and diminish further the already lackluster support for this civil rights organization in New Haven. If the principal is innocent, clear his name and move on. If he is not innocent, then it is time to clean house at Hillhouse! Such house cleaning should have been done in the summer BEFORE the start of the school year! Shame on the Board and the superintendent for putting the students, parents and faculty through the mess. The status quo cannot continue at Hillhouse. Parents and teachers need to speak up.
Any critical reading of Atty. Dugas’ report reveals that is lacking in credibility not the least of which is that the investigator, and his law firm, are long supporters of the mayor and his administration.
Atty. Jefferson, I believe, is fulfilling his duty to our society and its rules by representing his particular client, and his umbrella client (our community), in the marketplace of ideas.
And yes, this is about race and plantation style politics.
It is well known that the mayor controls the BOE and the superintendent and his staff. The mayor covertly demands loyalty to his position by having city managers do what he commands through his appointees—Dr. Mayo being the most visible.
Why do you think there is such a top-heavy and highly paid school administrative staff here?
Anyway, I believe that this is an extremely important political event taking place before our very eyes.
Everyone should pay careful attention to this as it goes forward.
I, for one, would not have called in the NAACP.
I would have called for the FBI.