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Investigation Formally Revealed At “Emergency” School Board Meeting

by Allan Appel | Dec 24, 2011 12:17 am

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

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

Allan Appel Photo As the Board of Education formally learned of an investigation into possible grade-changing at Hillhouse High School, Principal Kermit Carolina described the move as a “political lynching.”

The investigation was announced at a rare “emergency” pre-Christmas Friday night meeting, which took place at 6 p.m. on a mere 24-hour-and-52-minute official notice.

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Superintendent of Schools Reggie Mayo said he called the meeting to let the board know an investigation is underway. He said he couldn’t reveal much about that investigation beyond the fact that it concerns allegations of grade or credit “adjustments” at Hillhouse High School, potentially involving “several kids.”

“Some allegations have been made about some potential grade adjustments. Hillhouse is involved. There will be a process. Whether it leads to something else, we don’t know at this particular time,” Mayo said.

Mayo said at the meeting that there are three separate allegations to investigate. Board of Education attorney Floyd Dugas will conduct the probe.

Carolina said he thinks the allegations of wrongdoing are unfounded. They are acts of “retaliation” by a piqued Hillhouse administrator and a “vindictive” mayor, upset that Carolina chose not to appear with him at an event during his recent reelection campaign, he said.

Mayor John DeStefano dismissed Carolina’s countercharges as baseless.

At least one board member, Alex Johnston, said he didn’t know Friday night’s meeting had been called until contacted Friday morning by the Independent, which first reported the existence of the probe and the last-minute meeting. Johnston was not present at the meeting.

Click here for a story detailing the Board of Ed went about alerting, or not alerting, the public about the meeting.

“I’m Talking Of John DeStefano”

On Friday evening, Superintendent Mayo made a brief statement announcing the investigation. He was about to adjourn the meeting when Principal Carolina stood to speak. He had been sitting at the front of the room with his attorney, Michael Jefferson, and his friend Gary Highsmith, principal of Hamden High.

Carolina said he didn’t need an outside investigation, that he had conducted his own. After learning of the Board of Ed’s intention earlier in the day, Carolina initiated his own probe, he said.

“It saddens me to to stand here due to baseless allegations against against my high school,” Carolina said. “I’ve always been transparent. ... I’ve done my investigation.”

Carolina said he found the root of the allegations was an incident in which a student wasn’t given full credit for a college course taken over the summer. The student’s transcript was changed only to indicate that it was an English college-level course.

He produced transcripts with a student’s name redacted that he said showed what had happened. He said later that he knew of only one such incident and didn’t know anything about another two incidents mentioned by Superintendent Mayo as part of the investigation.

Carolina said the allegations of grade-changing are “retaliatory action” initiated by an administrator at Hillhouse, whom he declined to name.

“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.”

“I’m very upset at this,” Carolina said. He fought to hold back tears twice during his comments to the board.

“So why are we having this meeting tonight? It’s very simple: The administrator in question is a close friend of a board member.” Carolina said. “I’m talking of John DeStefano.”

Carolina said DeStefano is trying to retaliate against Carolina because the principal declined to appear with the mayor at a campaign event photo op in September.

“I respectfully declined to be photographed with the mayor,” Carolina said. “I made it clear I was an educator and did not want to get involved in the political process.”

The mayor accused Carolina of attending a campaign event of his challenger, Jeffrey Kerekes, Carolina said. He held up an undated handwritten note that he said came to him from the mayor. “Kermit, you were there,” it read.

Kerekes was in the audience at the board meeting Friday evening.

“I don’t take to intimidation,” Carolina said.

“No Basis”

After the meeting adjourned, the mayor responded to Carolina’s charges. “I don’t see the connection,” he said, between him and the Hillhouse grade-changing probe.

DeStefano said he supported Carolina when he was selected as principal two years ago. He said the superintendent is simply “responding to a staff allegation.” Sending it to counsel for investigation is the right thing to do, he said.

DeStefano said he doesn’t know the specifics of the grade-altering allegations. He said he doesn’t know what administrator Carolina referred to. There is no connection with any campaign politics, he said.

“This is an internal issue that’s coming out of Hillhouse High,” he said. “To suggest it’s something else—I have no basis for that.”

“The political connection? The election is long over,” DeStefano said.

The mayor did not deny writing the note, but pointed out that it was undated and said he didn’t recall the context in which he wrote it.

“This is a political lynching,” Carolina said. “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.”

Jefferson said he and Carolina are going to wait for the results of the investigation. Mayo said the probe could take two weeks or a month.

Paul Bass contributed reporting.

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posted by: Blame the Mayor on December 24, 2011  12:37am

I hope all of you who voted for King John enjoy all the Christmas presents he’s been giving you this week.
Tough to choose your favorite isn’t it?
Maybe the F-bomb dropping, girl bully of a school spokesman?
Maybe the year’s 33rd murder?
Maybe the new police brutality?
Or maybe this piece of political assassination?

You can’t blame me,  I voted Kerekes, Blame the Mayor.

posted by: New Haven Resident on December 24, 2011  12:58am

If the Mayor really cares about integrity, then how come he has done nothing to investigate the Principal at Cross bullying students, and her role involving Credit Retrieval Cheating?

posted by: workers of new haven unite on December 24, 2011  1:08am

terribly saddened by these latest antics.  tremendous respect for principal carolina. we didnt vote for king john either. new haven teachers, new haven residents, new haven youth:  speak out and take back your city. we have these solstice days to renew but we must regroup soon to speak truth to power and take back our city.

posted by: You've got to be kidding on December 24, 2011  1:10am

I was cynical about Mr. Carolina’s allegations of a DeStefano conspiracy until I saw the note.

W.  T.  F.

On what planet is this even acceptable, regardless of whether it has anything to do with the current investigation??  Committing a threat to writing indicates there’s not even a bit of shame or fear of accountability.  The mayor’s worst enemy couldn’t make this stuff up.

Forget it, Jake….it’s New Haven

posted by: 9,000 out of 70,000 on December 24, 2011  1:28am

The BOE’s attorney is going to investigate. Priceless.  You really can’t invent this stuff.

The 60,000 or so registered voters who didn’t vote in November are really the ones to blame here. How do we change that??

posted by: richgetricher on December 24, 2011  1:31am

It’s like a note right out of the Sopranos. “Kermit, you were there” on a mayoral letter.
The election may be over, but the mayor apparently hasn’t finished settling his scores yet.

posted by: My Vote Goes to Kermit Carolina on December 24, 2011  7:00am

Kermit Carolina has done wonderful things to improve the public perception of Hillhouse High School.  I don’t have direct knowledge of his leadership in educational matters, and so I cannot comment about them. 

He has handwritten evidence of a bizarre message from the mayor that he says accuses him of being somewhere.  What could the message possibly mean if it doesn’t mean what Mr. Carolina claims it means - that he was at a political event for a political opponent?

I fully admit that I don’t have evidence, but my gut is telling me that Kermit Carolina is a victim here.  The investigation ought to include the role of the mayor in this.

And, by the way, shame on the superintendent for going along with this.

posted by: streever on December 24, 2011  8:46am

This is beyond screwed up.

Does the proceeding make any sense to anyone?

Why wasn’t Alex Johnston notified?
What exactly happened at Hillhouse in Mayo’s own words?

Right now it sounds vague, arbitrary, and bizarre. An emergency last minute meeting about ONE change to ONE student’s transcript?

Seriously?

Meanwhile, we have multiple victims of police brutality holding rallies, protests, and marches, and the Mayor does NOTHING.

I was personally choked, beaten, and left laying in the road by a cop because I asserted that I’m required to ride my bike in the street when he asked me why I wasn’t riding it on the sidewalk. I told the Mayor. I showed him my bruises. He laughed about it.

The man is disgusting and ineffectual.

He only goes after the lowest hanging fruit, and he’d rather pursue his personal political enemies than do his job.

Where is the EMERGENCY meeting concerning Mr. Torres, the elderly man who was severely beaten but not charged with ANYTHING?

posted by: SaveOurCity on December 24, 2011  8:59am

Very sad that we were not able to get the votes to throw the bum out in November. 

Blame the Mayor;  I’d like to add to your list…..how about the assessment letters mailed after the election and then remailed a week later (on the taxpayers tab).  First, since Johnny wanted to hold the letters until he was re-elected, the least he could have done would be to have them proof read during that time.  Second, I’m really looking forward to my 55% increase next year

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 24, 2011  9:39am

watch the end of this video of the meeting
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IcupfsHFPA&feature=youtu.be

posted by: Curious on December 24, 2011  10:04am

If this story outrages you, I encourage you to contact the CT state attorney and ask them to look into this as possible political corruption.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

posted by: Noteworthy on December 24, 2011  10:43am

BOE attorney Floyd Dugas is doing the investigation. This is the same Attorney Dugas who approved the NH BOE becoming a bank and giving a multi-million loan to an uncredit-worthy borrower for the Leeder Hill School?

The same Attorney Dugas who later approved amending the loan documents so that taxpayers who were in the first lien position subordinated so the defaulting borrower and his new partners could get a real loan from a real bank?

Perhaps this is the same Attorney Dugas who cheerfully wrote DeStefano multiple campaign checks totalling at least a $1,000 before I lost count?

And then of course, there is Reggie Mayo. This is the same guy who defends W.C. Principal and pal, Peggy Moore and her Kafkaesque regime disbanding the student counsel to negating an election; from being unprepared for her role as principal to being unprepared for a leadership role at school events like the induction of this year’s National Honor Society members; to ... I digress. 

This is the same Reggie Mayo who even though given 8 months notice and even though the NHBOE paid the $20K retirement bribe, has repeatedly failed to give Cross students and parents a prncipal who was ready to lead and not appointed at the last minute.

Yes…this happy duo of incompetence has launched and is in charge of this witch hunt. And of course, John DeStefano says there is no political connection and this must be done to protect the “integrity of the school system.”

Excuse me. This school system leadership has near zero integrity and creditiblity and this includes the NH Board of Education. Pretending that it does is delusional. This system graduates half its students; more than 80% drop out of college. It costs more than $17K a year to put a kid through this broken school system adn we have a bunch of re-treads running it while pretending they are reformers. Every day is like Halloween at the NHBOE where they put on masks and pretend to be something they are not.

That this meeting was called at the last minute to announce what sure appears to be a half-assed allegation by a poor performing administrator under Kermit Carolina is both a travesty of justice and a violation of the chain of command.

If this city was being run by real leaders who cherished integrity and possessed credibility, there would be no questions about politics and there would be no ominous notes saying “you were there…”

posted by: robn on December 24, 2011  10:47am

Cant think of a context in which the mayors note wouldnt be creepy and intimidating. Possible only slightly creepier rough drafts :

“I know what you did last summer.”

“I’m writing this from inside your house.”

posted by: working(too hard) mom on December 24, 2011  11:30am

Kermit Carolina is the only true leader in this story.  He can take DeStefano and Mayo to school on what it means to put kids first.

Kermit-Your integrity shines through.You are a true role model to our children. It must be so difficult to work in an oppressive, political environment such as NHPS. Keep up the fight.

I used to think De Stefano was just a dumb bully. It is so much worse than that.  Never mind about the crime, the taxes. His personal agenda comes first. He is a dangerous man, a man who cares nothing about New Haven’s kids. This is what you voted for people, happy now????

posted by: Shocked not on December 24, 2011  11:50am

Shocked at Big Johnny the Mayor no !!!! The writing is on the wall and to suggest otherwise that his blatant intimidation which is obvious from the sarcastic note on his own letterhead that this Principle did something wrong is foolish on all who would even entertain that thought. Quite humerous that the Mayor cannot remember why he wrote that note….
Another obvious form of intimidation coercin and power by this Mayor..He rules the Police Department and is now at the center of another shady deal going on in the Hood now lets see if the Principle takes a Leave of absence or is fired ..as the prior Limon deal…Lastly, I was shocked and embarressed at his ridiculous chat on channel 8 news, ask the Mayor..he skated every single question…
And can someone please explain to Mr. Mayor that irrregardless is not proper English it is regardless .....Peace to this fine Principle and his family…Shame Shame on Johnny D….again….

posted by: JMS on December 24, 2011  11:51am

2nd disturbing story of the week in a all too familiar genre. Going on record with huge support for Kermit.

JMS

posted by: Darryl Brackeen Jr on December 24, 2011  12:19pm

I am not sure about these accusations of grade changes, but I know Mr. Carolina and I know for a fact he is committed to raising the bar on educating New Haven’s students. Being a product of New Haven himself he understands what the community needs. Today I state that I know that Mr. Carolina was the change that Hillhouse needed in order to keep up the standard Dr. Garris held before him.

Mr. Carolina has given the community a chance to become involved in the educating process as well as helping the students of the community. Again I implore politicians to forgive and forget and worry about our childrens education.

posted by: Ora on December 24, 2011  1:09pm

Just deeply disturbing. So out of control. Removal would be best for the city. Yes, ofcourse I am speaking of DeStefano. How much more sh_t is going to hit the fan before even the staunchest supporters will buckle and decide this guy just is not worth it and realize the city needs a new honest and decent leader. The new board of aldermen better take note of this ongoing assault on employees and whoever the mayor feels is in his way.
How can even the highest paid people in his administration not cringe and wonder WTF they are still doing working for an ego lunatic who steps on anyone he chooses to when he is displeased! To employees the mayor knows didn’t support him, they should brace and prepare. This is so out of control and just sad sad sad. To Kermit, don’t know you but I wish you well. You are a brave soul.

posted by: Kermit Had the Courage to Hold His Ground on December 24, 2011  1:14pm

Think of all of the egregious actions of Mrs. Moore, principal of Wilbur Cross. Some of her actions have been so much over the top that they make me question my own eyes and ears.  You see, I have witnessed at least some of them.  Yet, Mayor DeStefano openly supported her, even when she was at her worst.  Dr. Mayo did the same.  But then, Peggy Moore has been a contributor to the DeStefano campaign.

Kermit Carolina took the high road in declining the invitation to be photographed for the mayor’s campaign.  How wrong-headed could the mayor be in even asking him to do it in the first place?  So now, Mr. Carolina is fighting for his reputation, as well as that of his school.

I have a few questions:
1. Since when does a superintendent need to inform board members at a public meeting that he has hired an attorney to conduct an investigation?  Kermit’s reputation has suffered irreparable harm, no matter what the outcome.

2. Why does the superintendent need an attorney to do this job?  The attorney will be getting all of his information from board employees anyway, so any investigation can easily be tainted anyway.

3. Is this what happens when the mayor “owns” the board?

4. Is it time for an ethics review of the mayor’s actions?

posted by: Cliff Huckstable on December 24, 2011  1:20pm

Doesn’t surprise me Carolina it’s called modern day Lynching for the Black man who doesn’t say Yes Masta, Just like DeStefano made Principal’s make 100.00 contributions to his campaign. Yes elections are over but there is Impeachment lets request an Investigation in His 20+ year helm buying and selling the black community!

posted by: Fairhaven Dave on December 24, 2011  2:03pm

A bully?  Maybe… IF you are on his payroll.  In conversation I have found his condescending [...] drawl to be quite the opposite of intimidating.  When he starts emoting and rolling his eyes I have a hard time not laughing. 

Also, I’m pretty sure the letter says, “Kermit, You weije theje.  Jol.”  No wonder that whole building has no idea what he wants.

Great time to hold a meeting of this scale.  Anything to keep the numbers down, eh?  Good job, Allan.

posted by: Allan Brison on December 24, 2011  2:29pm

Cedar Hill Resident:

Thanks so much for filming and providing that video. It tells the story in Carolina’s own words so much better than the article itself.

I would encourage anybody who reads this and has not watched Cedar’s video to do so.

posted by: TC on December 24, 2011  2:33pm

Please, everyone, don’t even think for a second that the grade changing is not true and probably more widespread than ONE STUDENT. That is naive.

NH Independent—- see if you can find out how many student grades were changed and, of those, how many were for students who play SPORTS for NEW HAVEN….

posted by: St. Nick on December 24, 2011  2:35pm

Which AP at Hillhouse let Mayo and DeStefano know of the supposed grade-fixing?

Rosner, Love-Joyner, Gannon, Carberry, Dupree, or Nguyen?  All six are AP’s at Hillhouse and all six make over 100K per yr!

posted by: marko on December 24, 2011  3:52pm

The Mayor is a despicable, vindictive bully.  Add me to the list of people who no longer support him.

posted by: Wait and See on December 24, 2011  3:57pm

If allegations of misconduct by Principal Carolina have been made, I can’t think of any reason why they should NOT be referred to an outside investigation. Certainly, his claim of having conducted the investigation himself, concerning allegations that involve his conduct, doesn’t make any sense to me at all. He should welcome the review. Let’s get the facts and lay them on the table for the NHI readers to reach their own conclusions.

Reggie Mayo and the BoE have been very supportive of Kermit’s career over the years. I find it hard to believe that someone within the BoE system would manufacture evidence that would be available for independent scrutiny.
PS: I didn’t vote for John either.

posted by: Threefifths on December 24, 2011  4:17pm

This is the reason why educates have academic tenure.The reso of you educates better wake up.Look at what happen to these educates.

When Suspicion of Teachers Ran Unchecked.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/nyregion/16teachers.html?pagewanted=all

posted by: robn on December 24, 2011 9:47am
Cant think of a context in which the mayors note wouldnt be creepy and intimidating. Possible only slightly creepier rough drafts :

“I know what you did last summer.”

“I’m writing this from inside your house.”


Thank God he is in a union.

posted by: WhataboutReggieMayo? on December 24, 2011  5:01pm

Very sad story. I am wondering why we have not heard why Reggie did not notify Carolina? I confess that I do not know the rules, but notifying the Principal of allegations might have been the first step?

posted by: New Havener on December 24, 2011  5:52pm

Sadly have known the mayor for most of his life the repeated erratic actions and decisions in the past year lead me to question his sanity.

posted by: brutus2011 on December 24, 2011  6:12pm

I don’t what to think about this strange development.

Previously, everything indicated that Mr. Carolina was being groomed for NHPS top leadership.

Now?

So many questions, so few answers.

So far. Let us wait and see. Here in New Haven I am prepared for almost anything.

posted by: Kermit is the victim here on December 24, 2011  6:17pm

RE:  The posting at 3:17 - Yes, Kermit is in a union, but Peggy Moore is president of the union.

RE: The posting at 4:01 - It is very odd, too odd to be acceptable, that the principal learned of this investigation from the NHI, not from his superiors.  Under normal circumstances, someone at least informs a person who is suspected of some impropriety before pulling out the stops with an investigation because sometimes there is an explanation, such as the one Kermit provided.  If that explanation is unacceptable, then the superintendent should proceed with the investigation.  But here, no one bothered to ask, probably because they have only one goal: to find Kermit guilty, whether he did anything wrong or not.

Kermit, if this doesn’t go your way, you need to sue their behinds.  If I know you, though, your reputation is far more important than a lawsuit award.  I hope you see a lot of support at the next board meeting.  Don’t give up.

posted by: Unbelievable on December 24, 2011  7:19pm

BOE, Carolina, DeStefano, Mayo, Political Retaliation and NHPS Shenanigans!  Totally Outrageous!!!
Please forgive us if we do not give proper attributions; we wish to support the following comments:
1.  “The election may be over, but the mayor apparently hasn’t finished settling his scores yet.”  Anyone who knows John DeStefano knows that he is a petty and vindictive politician.  He believes that the people who work for the City of New Haven are his ...s; they owe their jobs to him and must show loyalty and allegiance.  As Mr. Carolina claimed—that note was a “got you” for attending a Jeffrey Kerekes political event.  People who work for the NHPS should NOT have to support John DeStefano or any other political person who is mayor of New Haven.  They should have gotten their jobs based upon qualifications, not on political patronage.  Anyone who accepts a job on that basis has joined the patronage club; there is a PRICE for all such favors. 

2. 2.  We agree with the questions listed below and wish to add a few of our own.  Here are the questions asked by Streever:  a) Why wasn’t Alex Johnston notified?  We are asking that same question – Why wasn’t he informed?
b) What exactly happened at Hillhouse in Mayo’s own words?  We are asking, c) what was so serious that Dr. Mayo felt compelled to contact an attorney? d) When you were told about serious problems at Wilbur Cross, why didn’t you notify the BOE then, and why didn’t you start an investigation internal or external? 
e)  There have been many rumors and claims about grade inflation, grade fixing and suspicious transfers of students from Wilbur Cross to Metropolitan, and some students not allowed to take some tests because they would not score well.  Why hasn’t Dr. Mayo conducted an investigation into these allegations?  What about the claim that some students who graduated with high marks from Cross but cannot do basic remedial work in college?
f)  Why has Mayor DeStefano so strongly supported Peggy Moore in the face of numerous complaints and in the face of her obnoxious behavior before the BOE in recent months?  Could it be because she made at least two financial contributions to Mayor DeStefano’s campaign?  Apparently Mr. Carolina did not make such contributions.

3.  @ posted at Kermit also asked these questions below; we are asking the same and some additional questions:
a). Since when does a superintendent need to inform board members at a public meeting that he has hired an attorney to conduct an investigation?  Kermit’s reputation has suffered irreparable harm, no matter what the outcome.  b). Why does the superintendent need an attorney to do this job?  The attorney will be getting all of his information from board employees anyway, so any investigation can be easily tainted. c)  Is this what happens when the mayor “owns” the board? d) Was Alex Johnston not informed of the BOE meeting because the Mayor cannot dictate how Alex should behave?  Or is it because Alex can think for himself and may have real questions about what is going on in NHPS?

4. We believe it is time for an ethics review of the mayor’s actions and time for the Attorney General’s office to take a hard and comprehensive look at how the City of New Haven does business with its employees in demanding political contributions, and in harassing those who do not comply with the dictates of the Mayor. While all of these political shenanigans are going on students are at the whim of politically oppressed or politically rewarded teachers and administrators.  We have a supt. who functions at the pleasure of the mayor’s ego and who lacks the spine to challenge anything the mayor does because his – the supt’s job- is also at the pleasure of the mayor.  His is FOUL.  Parents and students NEED TO PROTEST.  Every tax payer in NH needs to demand accountability of how our money is being spent.  Neither Kermit Carolina should be required to appear with the Mayor or any other politician at a political event. 

5. 5.  Our schools and students should not be used as political fodder. This is political corruption; it needs to end.  Citizens – whether Democrats or Republicans—need to stand up against this type of exploitation.  CT is rife with this type of behavior in small and large organizations.  There are despots everywhere; they should be purged from the education system, from government and community agencies and from non-profits.  We need to stop looking the other way and conduct ourselves ethically; if we don’t, eventually, we will ALKL pay the price of not doing so.

posted by: first observer on December 24, 2011  7:27pm

cedarhillresident—you have done an invaluable public service not only by attending the meeting in the first place—something it is clear you often do (even really obscure ones!)—but of course also by taking and posting the video.  The city owes you a huge debt of gratitude.  That video is utterly amazing.

In any dispute between Kermit Carolina and John DeStefano, I take Kermit anytime.  Kermit Carolina has shown himself over the years to be a class act.  John DeStefano, as we all know, has shown himself over many of the same years to be petty, vindictive, and despicable.

Keep up the good fight, Mr. Carolina.  We will get rid of this mayor the next time around.  (Or maybe by that time he will have seen enough handwriting on the wall and will just choose not to run again, after a rounded-out 20 years.  Let us pray.)  This city desperately needs leaders of your caliber, and desperately needs to get rid of the other kind, and I predict that as time goes on, more and more people will recognize the difference between the example of your goals and motives and the atrocious agendas perpetrated by John DeStefano.

posted by: streever on December 24, 2011  7:58pm

Why aren’t they doing anything about Peggy Moore?

Could it be her campaign contributions, or her over the top support of JD, to the point of disbanding student clubs that criticize him?

When the people are ruled by an egotist who disbands civic proceedings and disenfranchises voters, it is time for the people who care to do something about it.

The question is what are we going to do—as a city—to show John that we are tired of his politricks, his dirty deals, and his bull.

posted by: Threefifths on December 24, 2011  8:57pm

posted by: streever on December 24, 2011 6:58pm
Why aren’t they doing anything about Peggy Moore?

Could it be her campaign contributions, or her over the top support of JD, to the point of disbanding student clubs that criticize him?

How about your main man Sen.Lemar and his campaign contributions and over the top support of King John.

posted by: Try This Again on December 24, 2011  9:41pm

This will be my second attempt at trying to post a comment here by the Kermit Carolina incident. As a City of New Haven employee who was assigned to HillHouse H.S. for several years I can tell you that there were and currently intimidation, bullyism which I observed firsthand. I can say I witnessed and been present with a former AP who would walk from classroom to classroom and school to school within the city to strong arm monetary contributions from administrators and teachers during the mayors re-election campaigns. This AP would have in his possession a master sheet of every school employee who he would approach and ask for a check. If they refused he would check their names off and within time after the election harassment and intimidation would occur. I wished more current as well as present school employees would come forward. Keep going hard Kermit because you have just hit the tip of the iceberg!

posted by: Charter revision on December 25, 2011  1:35am

The interesting thing is that there is even more thatnwill come about this trumped, baseless nonsense.  Let me give you a preview of the lower level stuff soon to come out:  1) The Mayor served as the best man at the administrators vow renewal several years ago, though he claims not be friends with this person.  2) this administrator has a long history of incompetence, and has been involuntarily removed from every administrative position she has had.  But I will stop there.

Not only should the Mayor be investigated for this Lear abuse of power, but that empty suite Reggie Mayo needs to go.  He has never been the type of leader New Haven needs, and willfully throws anyone under the bus to serve the Mayor.  Reggie Mayo is fearful of any Black male with any degree of courage, as evidenced by the absolute lack of black men in positions of authority at the district level.

How inappropriate and ethical of the superintendent to spend time during a work to hand out palm cards for tha Mayor on election day in Newhallville.  When I heard he was doing that, and actually drove by and saw it, he sunk to a low that even I could not have predicted. His latest gutless and idiotic behavior brings him below ground.  Mayo’s behavior is shameful.  He needs to resign now.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 25, 2011  8:17am

@streever, Peggy Moore (princ. of Wilbur Cross) should be gone for what she did to students, what she called students. How she handled that whole thing. But not a thing happened. But here we are going after a man that cares, and is making change in one of our hardest schools. One of our failing schools. Why because John’s friend said so?

posted by: Snoopy on December 25, 2011  10:24am

Peggy Moore will NEVER be investigated as long as Mayo is at the helm. TRUST ME!! Only when Mayo and Destefanano are unseated will NHPS, murder, and other crimes change.

posted by: Shocked no on December 25, 2011  12:27pm

Great to see the support of this Principle….Brave indeed God Bless him..
Another, Lawsuit of 5 million plus should indeed be in the works for this fine gentleman simply for the humiliation and bullying tactics once again from this Mayor and his sidekicks who obviously do whatever he demands of them as in the Police Dept Chiefs.
i.e. NHPD Officer Arpad Tolnay who rightfully and respectfully won his case against the city in it’s Johnny’s way or the highway.

This Mayors Bullying will assumingly cause another large pay out and rightfully so!!!! Way to go Johnny protect and serve your citizens…. Or is it Bully and coerce….
Will be interesting to see what will coming down the pike..Mr. Mayor…

Now respectfully, citizens of your wonderful Hood what will it take for you to no longer allow this Bullying Mayor to rule your city…??????  NHI you Rock..

posted by: John on December 25, 2011  1:48pm

Why isn’t the press putting more pressure on the Mayor.  ...  Kermit, you should run against Destefano.  You would probably win.

posted by: streever on December 25, 2011  2:16pm

3/5th
what laws did Lemar break?
What ethical violations did Lemar make?

The man may support the Mayor—given the choice of candidates—and I may disagree with him. I respect him, value his presence, and am confused by your apparent confusion. Lemar doesn’t break laws or ethics, he is an upstanding and excellent person. Pray tell what wrongs he did?

posted by: robn on December 25, 2011  4:16pm

I for one am truly interested in hearing more about allegations of political coercion and also student athlete grade fixing (alleged by this incident and also my own outside sources) but since there appears to be mud on everyone’s fenders ... I suspect this will all be quietly managed behind closed doors.

posted by: Sophia Segarra on December 25, 2011  4:19pm

Its ironic that these allegations are surfing now? This has been going on in New Haven for sometime. Especially when it comes to the athletes. 1/2 credit 1/2 there. Mr. Carolina
needs to acknowledge his faults and accept the consequences. 
Administrators dating teachers,(Affecting morale in the school)
Allowing students to fight,(Deans)
Not Addressing Discipline issues,(Until they escalate)
Using inappropriate language,(Bad example)
Then you wonder why all New Haven Schools are/ or have been failing schools for years?
Its not the teachers, its the lack of discipline!

posted by: MM on December 25, 2011  8:31pm

Welcome back to Hillhouse of the 1960s

Does the name Robert T. LeVine, Principal ring a bell????????????????

Changing grades at Hillhouse, nothing new under the sun, new century, same scandal.

posted by: Think About it! on December 25, 2011  10:02pm

Let me first address the following portion of a post by Charter revision: “The interesting thing is that there is even more thatnwill come about this trumped, baseless nonsense.  Let me give you a preview of the lower level stuff soon to come out:  1) The Mayor served as the best man at the administrators vow renewal several years ago, though he claims not be friends with this person.  2) this administrator has a long history of incompetence, and has been involuntarily removed from every administrative position she has had.  But I will stop there.”

1st of all the mayor did not “claim not to be friends with this person”. If you could read what’s actually there instead of what you want to see you would realize that he indeed acknowledged that he is friends with this person but he fails to see the connection to this grade changing allegation and why Mr. Carolina would bring it up in the first place. Secondly, as a point of clarification, he wasn’t the best man. If you had your facts straight you might have known that.

And can someone please explain to me how the fact that the person who allegedly made the allegations knows the mayor means that the allegations must be false? Are you all really too blinded by your disdain for the mayor to see that the political posturing and political lynching is all initiated by Kermit Carolina so he can take the spotlight off of himself and what he is accused of and get the masses riled up on his side? He is quite intelligently deflecting your attention by pulling both the political and race card. Who but a smart Black man who wanted to turn this situation into a racial and political one would put the phrase “political lynching” out there? Think about it… As soon as you heard or read that didn’t you have images of “strange fruit”? (For the less academically inclined that refers to our Black men hanging from trees when lynching was most prevalent in this country.) Didn’t you automatically jump on the Black man’s side and begin to take this accusation personally as an affront against all strong Black men everywhere? Kudos to you Mr. Carolina. Well played.

Secondly, where in the world did you get this COMPLETELY FALSE information that “this administrator has a long history of incompetence, and has been involuntarily removed from every administrative position she has had”? ... You were at least correct when you said that you needed to stop there before you dug an even deeper empty hole for yourself and fell in it. This administrator has exactly the opposite reputation that what you so erroneously stated. This administrator has an ABSOLUTELY IMPECCABLE reputation in this school system and throughout her professional career and I refuse to allow you to hide behind your false electronic courage and tell these blatant lies about her!

And for all of you who are screaming “Kids First!” and allowing yourselves to be used by Mr. Carolina to deflect attention from him shouldn’t you be saying to yourselves: If the allegations were false, Mr. Carolina wouldn’t feel the need to attack the mayor and get the city riled up in a political windstorm. If the allegations were false, Mr. Carolina would welcome an investigation with the knowledge that he would be found innocent of the charges. If the allegations were false, no one would have made them in the first place! And the mere fact that these allegations have been made points to the fact that there must be SOMETHING behind it. And no it’s not ONE grade that was the result of ONE mistaken English credit. It has already been reported that there are THREE situations being investigated. I certainly hope in the course of the investigation they talk to the scores of teachers who are called into Mr. Carolina’s office every grading period, challenged about their grades and forced to change them to Mr. Carolina’s specifications. And I certainly hope those people have the courage to speak up and not bow down out of fear of Mr. Carolina’s retaliations since he ultimately has their jobs in his hands when it comes to their evaluations.

Lastly I pose the following questions:
Did the mayor make the allegations?... NO! 
Does the mayor work at the school?... NO!
So how the heck has he now become the focus? WAKE UP PEOPLE! Your anger, displeasure, disdain, and dislike of the mayor has made you fodder for this ...

posted by: Bubba Gum on December 25, 2011  11:15pm

To Charter Revision:
Since I was at the weddings vows renewal in question and since there is a video, I invite you to first apologize for making false statements. A very prominent member of the New Haven community was best man. A very prominent and respected member of the New Haven clergy who has since moved to another city officiated it. Nearly every person on the street where the administrator lives was invited and we had a great time. Secondly, the administrator has been honored by the school district and other organizations for helping kids get into college and to get jobs. There are firemen and police officers in this community who had her as a counselor or teacher. She has donated thousands of dollars of her own money to help students stay in college. She has sponsored poor families during Christmas and Thanksgiving and secured a million dollars from a private donor to grant scholarships to Hillhouse students. If canceled checks and newspaper coverage is sufficient evidence then it is available. She introduced Dr. John Dow to the community through the Accentuate the Positive Campaign. She taught students at Malcolm’s Village in the early seventies and they are some of the best people in this community holding down jobs in public and private organizations throughout the city. She and her husband donate annual scholarships to HH students every year and give students money out of their pocket when they come home from school. Her husband has donated equipment to the athletic program at HH and also put a mentoring program in place with the young men of the Yale Black Men’s Union. Most of this originated under Dr. Garris and was continued under Carolina with limited support. She has never been involuntarily transferred and even refused an administrative internship until her son graduated from high school. She has been commended by college officials, parents, students, and community activists for her unselfish devotion to children of all backgrounds. For two years she helped her son mentor the son of a young man who has since been released from prison and is now giving back to the community. She is a member of one of the largest families in New Haven that includes Browns, Carrs, Edwards, Woodsons, Denbys, Willoughbys, Joyners, Spells, Moyes, Hazards, Atkinsons, Blounts, Kilpatricks, and Murphys.

She has bailed out at least one young man from jail and brought school clothes for his young children while he was in prison. She and her daughter worked with him and he earned his GED and now is an independent business man. She annually leads the city in securing scholarships for minority students and continues to help them with her own funds. She has counseled young married couples in her own home and even helped one young couple with the purchase of a car when they were in dire straits. The father is now a hero in the fire department who saved a truck driver from sudden death on I 95. She was his counselor when he was in high school and has become is godmother. This is not an incompetent administrator but a woman of virtue who was helping kids when Mr. Carolina was a child. She has tried to help him… The truth will be told and people who use this event to attack the Mayor and the schools should wait until all the evidence is brought to the surface

posted by: Snoopy on December 25, 2011  11:40pm

To MM…How well do I remember THAT Levine.  He actually did change grades for his own only.  Mr. Carolina has NOT changed grades for anyone.  But before this is over John and Mayo may wish for a change of the new grade they will receive. As change may be on its way.

posted by: Threefifths on December 26, 2011  1:19am

posted by: streever on December 25, 2011 1:16pm
3/5th
what laws did Lemar break?
What ethical violations did Lemar make?

Remember Politicians help to make laws, so they are in a strong position in which to exploit them. In any walk of life there is good and bad, but in recent years it does seem to genuinely be the case that politicians have become more corrupt and unethical.Also remember he and other’s by voting for king john support the biding of king john.When you take the kings meat you must do the king’s biding.I believe you main man Lemar and the other’s who voted for king john like there meat Rare.

The man may support the Mayor—given the choice of candidates—and I may disagree with him. I respect him, value his presence, and am confused by your apparent confusion. Lemar doesn’t break laws or ethics, he is an upstanding and excellent person. Pray tell what wrongs he did?

How come He has not spoken out on this Injustice.Give me a break.He falls like the rest of politicians under this banner.

Politicians force taxpayers to pony it up—just as the services rendered for a pimp’s customers are rendered not by that pimp personally, but by the ladies under his charge. The pimp pockets the bulk of each payment.Also like the ladies under pimps’ power, taxpayers who resist being exploited risk serious consequences to their persons and pocketbooks. Uncle Sam doesn’t treat kindly taxpayers who… try to avoid the obligations that he assigns to them. Government is a great deal more powerful, and often nastier, than is the typical taxpayer. Practically speaking, the taxpayer has little choice but to perform as government demands.Americans continue to imagine that the typical representative or senator is an upstanding citizen, a human being worthy of being feted and listened to as if he or she possesses some unusually high moral or intellectual stature.It’s closer to the truth to see politicians as pimps who force ordinary men and women to pony up freedoms and assets for the benefit of clients we call “special-interest groups.”
P.J. O’Rourke’s 1992 book, “Parliament of Whores

posted by: new haven on December 26, 2011  9:59am

enough is enough with this mayor….how does he continually get away with the stuff he does.
  he wrote a note and can’t remember ...it’s retaliation ..so transparent…other mayors get investigated not this mayor…..and the people voted him in again….what a shame 34 killings now…new police chief what the hell is being done…..can he get thrown out…HE HAS TO BE INVESTIGATED

posted by: LOL on December 26, 2011  11:18am

@Think About It—So, in which capacity do you serve the mayor?

Get YOUR facts straight.

1.  Grades are up and crime is down at Hillhouse.  Check NHPS.net for further details.  And try spending some time at HHHS; many students respect Mr. Carolina because he is a no-nonsense, dedicated professional.

2.  Of course the mayor himself is not gonna make the accusation.  That would be too obvious.  Easier to have a friend bring the charge to light while playing oblivious.  Which is exactly what happened here.

3.  The note to Mr. Carolina on the mayor’s letterhead reeks of corruption and should be investigated by the state.  If—if—the mayor didn’t write that himself, then somebody on his staff did.  Unless you wanna tell me that the mayor hasn’t control over who can access his letterhead, and thereby use it for their own agenda, which if that’s the case, the mayor’s even more incompetent than he already appears.

4.  The mayor fails to see the connection between politics and the alleged grade changing.  Yeah, right.  Only somebody close to the mayor, or somebody on his payroll would believe that.

If you defend the mayor claiming that his note to Mr. Carolina, and the fact the mayor’s close friend who works at HHHS brought this to light (behind Carolina’s back) is merely coincidental—and not retribution for Carolina refusing to support the mayor publicly—then I say LET THE STATE INVESTIGATE.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 26, 2011  12:17pm

Bubba Gum and Think About It:

Here are your problems:

John DeStefano has a long history of intimidating employees; shaking down city contractors for campaign cash; trashing companies and people, even the public with whom he disagrees and bullying, demeaning and seeking retribution for slights, real or imagined.

Kermit Carolina clearly rejected political participation with DeStefano. He also rejected participation with Kerekes. That DeStefano sent that threatening note to him when he was not there at that press conference and did nothing to help the Kerekes campaign shows how small and retaliatory DeStefano is.

I’m not sure why we are not naming this assistant principal - there is only one that lives on Judwin. She lives several doors down from JD and even helped pay for his political campaign this year.

While she has probably done a lot of the good things you noted, past performance does not mean she was doing well under Carolina or doing the things he felt were necessary to move the kids forward under his command. Fact is, while at W.C. High School, she had mixed reviews from her students, one going so far as to say she’s a nice lady and makes you think she knows what she’s talking about but was still one of the worst ever.

Moreover, somebody who has been in the NHPS for more than 30 years, can get set in their ways and refuse to change with new leadership. Maybe she resented the changes - changes like everybody from the janitor to principal - are accountable for results. Frankly, this school’s past performance by any measure is pitiful. For 20 years, the previous principal while a nice guy, was a poor performer. How one keeps a job with these results is a testament to DeStefano/Mayo.

My assessment of Carolina is that he is not about “business as usual.” This includes campaign cash to DeStefano and protecting poor performers. There is a sense of urgency in his message to employees and students. I support that.

While I make no bones about my disdain for DeStefano and his herky, jerky maniacal and mercurial management practices and politricks, it is not much of leap to see this “investigation” as nothing more than more of the same. Just because we have a black superintendent and a black assistant principal both supporting the status quo, doesn’t mean it’s not a lynching all the same.

And even if you disagree with me on all of the above, there is no disagreement that this has been handled poorly, out of order and in a way designed to sully the reputation of the school and its principal Kermit Carolina. After all these years at the top of the food chain in New Haven city government - is it too much to ask DeStefano and Mayo and Clark and the NH BOE - to act like they have common sense, a threshold of fairness and the kind of personal integrity that would require proper notice, discretion and specific information before taking it to this level?

The actions of these people have once again put taxpayers at risk for a massive lawsuit but more importantly, put the Carolina family, who owns property here, in harm’s way for what sure looks and smells and walks like political payback.

posted by: John Tulin on December 26, 2011  12:40pm

Hey, how about we leave race and poor old Peggy Moore out of this - this is just nasty, petty old school politics from a nasty petty politician.  There is no racial motive and this has nothing to do with Wilbur Cross (for once).

posted by: Rush to Judgement on December 26, 2011  12:44pm

“Jefferson said he and Carolina are going to wait for the results of the investigation. Mayo said the probe could take two weeks or a month.”

I am absolutely ASTOUNDED! Allegations of serious misconduct are made against a principal, and NHI readers are so quick to rush to judgement against the Mayor, the Superintendant, the person who reported the alleged misconduct, and anything else that pops up— notwithstanding that no facts have been disclosed, because no investigation has taken place! I suggest that the NHI audience (many of whom are/were Kerekes supporters) do what Jefferson and Carolina intend to do—“wait for the results of the investigation”.

I would also suggest, for those who intend to malign and slander the good name of the person who reported the alleged misconduct (e.g. @ Charter revision) that as identities are known, that Administrator is well-recognized as a person of impeccable integrity, and professionalism, with a record of exceptional service to the NHPS. Her reputation for truthfulness is SPOTLESS (and has not been the subject of prior issues like those in Coach Carolina’s career). And I am equally amazed that seemingly enlightened readers woud be wiling to rely on the accused’s own “investigation” of his alleged misconduct, to be the basis on which they rush to judgement. “A “political lynching”? Who knows! And we won’t know until we see/hear some facts. Let’s find out what he did, before we decide to excuse it.

My dislike for Mayor DeStefano is lesser than none, however, I am not willing to allow my dislike for the Mayor to grant Kermit Carolina (or any other NHPS principal) a free pass for misconduct. I am not afraid of learning the facts, especially if I am going to reach a judgement that has such importance on the lives and careers of those people involved. Either way this goes, somebody’s integrity and career is now on the line.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 26, 2011  1:42pm

This is not an issue exclusive to Hillhouse High School. Cheating and falsification of records and documents occurs in other New Haven schools. Why? It is partly the result of the so called new school reform efforts. Teachers and even some school administrators are so intimidated because they are now threatened with losing their jobs if their students fail to receive passing grades in their classes and acceptable grades on state standardized tests.
Unfortunately education in New Haven has been reduced to preparing students to pass these tests. Curriculum and knowledge of subject matter are sacrificed on the altar of standardized testing. Teachers have to spend so much time teaching test taking skills, giving students practice exams and gearing all or most of their teaching to prepare these students for the almighty tests that they have less time for content. The result: students graduate knowing less information now than students 15-20 years ago.
When teachers have high academic standards and expectations for their students which the Board purports to support and students fail to do the work to meet those high standards and fail, those teachers are questioned and challenged by administrators. To avoid harassment from administrators, several teachers accommodate them and give them what they want: they give passing grades to students who have not earned such grades. Teachers in New Haven are threatened with termination under our new reform effort if they have too many failing grades in their classes.
I know a veteran teacher who taught in one New Haven school for ten years. He was terminated this past summer because his students performed poorly on a state standardized test. He had students who were undisciplined, disruptive and had special needs. The students did not study or do homework. Under the new reform teacher evaluation process in New Haven when the students fail to work, the teachers are branded failures and their careers are destroyed when they are terminated. The spineless and impotent teachers’ union is silent. Parents are kept in the dark.
This is the pressured and stress-filled atmosphere in which many teachers strive to work in New Haven.
This is the kind of atmosphere which leads to academic fraud and dishonesty. Fake grades. Altered answers on standardized tests. Grades changed after being submitted by teachers.  Undocumented courses and grades placed on transcripts to make it possible for students to graduate, especially student-athletes. Academic credits granted for highly questionable non-academic work. Apathetic and intimidated teachers who fear giving failing grades to students who won’t work hard.
The school system is data driven. When the data does not meet expectations some administrators simply change the data, making things appear to look good on paper when the facts are entirely different. Even attendance and tardy records are not exempt from administration alteration. All this to the intellectual and social detriment of our students, many who graduate from high school unprepared. This is why an alarmingly high percentage of New Haven high school students who graduate and go to college wind up taking remedial courses in order to catch up with their better educated peers. Or worse, they drop out after their first year after discovering how woefully unprepared they are.
Parents need to get much more involved in the schools and the press needs to escalate their investigation of what is going on in the New Haven schools. When the Board and Central office close ranks and shut the public out there is something rotten that they want to conceal. The people have a right to know that the school system is teaching our young people that they do not have to be accountable and responsible for their own conduct and behavior.
Any investigation the Board does must go beyond Hillhouse. The problem is systemic. Academic honesty and integrity and the future of our young people are all at stake here. If a New Haven high school is to have any value in the future these issues must be addressed and resolved.It will be our city’s shame if fraud and deception of any kind in the school system are taken lightly and surreptitiously dismissed.

posted by: Mudear on December 26, 2011  1:46pm

LOL, you have stumbled on a good idea and I strongly suggest that you ask Mr. Carolina to go to the Attorney General of the Commissioner to clear his name. Would you accept this or better yet would he go. This would be the best and most efficient way to settle this. Ask Kermit to go to the state. In fact, we should start a Go to the State Movement which would take the mayor and the assistant principal out of it. Be careful what you ask for!

posted by: LOL on December 26, 2011  2:31pm

I hope Carolina does go to the state because the mayor will not be left out of it. That little stunt of sending Kermit a threatening letter reeks of corruption. THAT should be investigated.  The alleged grade changing would be investigated by the state, but so too would a charge of curruption.  And I don’t think the mayor, nor of any of his cheerleaders, wants a state probe on his hands. So, MUDEAR, be careful what YOU wish for.

posted by: LOL on December 26, 2011  2:34pm

And what’s truly sad about what you wrote, Mr. Paine… is that the so-called leaders of this reform, the mayor and superintendent, have been given chance after chance after chance to get it right, only to fail time after time after time and then point fingers at only teachers.  It’s well past time somebody holds the mayor and superintendent accountable.

posted by: MuDear on December 26, 2011  2:35pm

Noteworthy,
You are clearly an excellent wordsmith, but we both are falling under the spell of a technique used in rhetoric called straw man. We are debating everything but whether the brother did what he was accused of and for every one person that would speak negatively about his accuser, we can find a lot more that would speak positively. After all, they talked about Jesus and he died for our sins, they talked about King and Mandela. AS Jack Friday would say, just the facts. Take it to the state! Peace

posted by: LOL on December 26, 2011  2:51pm

The “accuser” just happens to be close friends with the mayor, whose letterhead was used to intimate a threat to Carolina.

Let the state decide, indeed.

posted by: TC on December 26, 2011  2:53pm

Last time I knew, Connecticut people have the power to RECALL officials. Who will begin it??

posted by: SouthWest on December 26, 2011  3:20pm

... I applaud Kermit for being a real man and taking a stand for this put down. Johnny Boy is use to grown men falling down on their knees asking him forgiveness.Some of the torrid tales i’ve heard grown men say, the way he talk to others so “call men” who walks away with their heads down. This man has no respect for others none what so ever. With him you have to “demand it and command it”. If not he will have the last “laugh” It’s time for a change.

posted by: brutus2011 on December 26, 2011  3:29pm

to “TC”

In Ct., only 5 municipalities have paved the way for recall of an elected official. New Haven is one of the five.

However, there is only provision made to remove an official elected to a 4 year term.

New Haven’s mayor is elected to a 2 year term and is not, at this point in time, vulnerable to a recall.

If anyone knows differently, please let us know.

posted by: TC on December 26, 2011  5:36pm

To Brutus—  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  So, we are doomed in New Haven.  I also do not believe that any of the parties/principals/administrators/etc are innocent of anything. All are complicit in everything. The culture of corruption is so deep that I wish the State would just come in and put us out of our misery. Perhaps Yale can take us over, once and for all.

posted by: A resident on December 26, 2011  5:38pm

... With all the serious problems in this city, homicides, unemployment, vacant buildings and so on and this month he chooses to hold a press conference to give non legal immigrants the right to vote and now calling a Board of Ed meeting to discuss a serious matter without at least communicating with the Principal of the school.  Wow…shame,shame on you.  Maybe Yale will hire you Mayor.

posted by: Snoopy on December 26, 2011  7:36pm

No knowledge of recall ART 2 vs 4 year terms.  But now would be an excellent time for aldermen to change retirement status of individuals with egregious behavior as Destefano. Give him his last check and NO retirement benes at all. The DOJ just recently did a splendid job investigating East PD. New Haven need them to investigate Destefano AND Mayo ASAP. The outcome would be quite different than of this lawyer Mayo or John has investigating. John is as out of control as the guns and murders are in New Haven.  Like John Dow (Fmr. New Haven school supt.) said years back Re: a former mayor, “New Haven is without a director and direction.”

posted by: Justice on December 27, 2011  8:44am

The investigation must be meticulous. ... If Mr. Carolina is a victim and not a perpetrator he will be a shining hero in New Haven. If the person who brought the allegations is correct he or she will still be a pariah because the Black community confuses witnesses with snitches. This is why so many Black on Black crimes are not solved.

posted by: Et Tu? on December 27, 2011  9:51am

@ John Tulin:  In the data-driven climate of the New Haven Schools I know of one principal who works the numbers to make her school look better than it is.

We do need to discuss Peggy Moore and her seven assistant principals.  Last year Wilbur Cross boasted an impressive 10% increase in graduating seniors (32 more than 2009).  Pushing more students out of a dangerous school with an overall poor learning and social environment is a good thing.  The concern is how it was done. 

As has been stated by other individuals here, there is intense pressure in the district to inflate grades.  Last spring, Wilbur Cross administrators pressured teachers to pass seniors who were in danger of failing for the year.  The cases I’m familiar with involved students that skipped a high percentage of class meetings.  Some of these students caused trouble in the school while they were out of class.

An online “credit retrieval” system allows students to earn credits for full year courses that they failed.  There are rumors of instances where other students were paid to take the 20-30 hour online course for them.

The increases in quarterly scores the author touted in defense of Peggy Moore last summer are also questionable.  Classroom teachers administer and grade these tests.  In many cases teachers have been required to use them as part of the “data” in their evaluations.  Why would anyone NOT expect them to be inflated?  FYI: Last year was the first year of the new teacher evaluation program.  Voila!  Higher quarterly exam scores!

Educators are very uncomfortable with these decisions: their work with children is devalued and their authority is undermined.  These are political decisions that do not improve the experience our children have in school.

posted by: Abraham on December 27, 2011  10:49am

Kermit Carolina….taking the higher road! I read all the comments about who is to blame for all the issues that we as a city face. After all the blame has been assigned and tossed back and forth I ask myself what are all these Monday morning quarterbacks going to do to make this City a better place. The responsibility falls on all our shoulders and that is the most difficult part. I work with our youth 180 days a year and help to support the homeless. I’m not trying to accuse or condemn, but if all of us were to give a little bit more and accuse a bit less this City would be a far better place. I am often reminded that the walk of a thousand miles begins with a step. Keep stepping New Haven.

posted by: It's a Numbers Game on December 27, 2011  11:44am

Et Tu -

Thanks for posting.  I find it very strange that a school district would have teachers grade their own students’ quarterly scores because those scores are supposed to be an assessment of the teachers’ effectiveness.  Making these scores part of the teachers’ evaluations renders the scoring process highly suspect. 

There is a perfectly simple alternative that would more likely be better:  Have teachers grade the assessments of other teachers’ students; that is, have teachers score other teacher’s student papers.  Even better would be to have the district switch papers among the schools, so teachers wouldn’t be grading their close colleagues’ papers. It may seem cumbersome, but if these assessments are supposed to lead to improved teaching and learning, it is worth the additional work.

One bit of data Cross hasn’t been able to cover is student attendance.  At Cross, the current attendance rate is 86.0%—very low.  Historical patterns tell us that the percentage will deteriorate as the year progresses.  Hillhouse, on the other hand, has an attendance rate of over 90%, and this is not an aberration because Hillhouse was better last year, too.  Could it be that a better school climate might make it more likely that students will attend school more regularly?  What’s especially puzzling is that Cross has the “high end” students who bolster the school’s CAPT scores and who very likely keep the attendance from being far worse.  It makes one wonder just how bad the attendance rate of the other students is.

My opinion of the online “credit retrieval” courses is that they are just a way to pass students who haven’t earned passing grades.  These are the students who are most in need of quality instruction, something that they can’t possibly get by sitting at computers.  The tragedy isn’t failing to graduate; it is failing to learn.  But this is a numbers game, and the administrators seem more concerned about keeping the graduation rate as high as possible.  They should be more concerned about preparing students for the future.

posted by: westville man on December 27, 2011  12:05pm

When Kermit Carolina refused to participate on a political photo op w Destefano last fall and his close friends,Michael Jefferson and Gary Highsmith publicly supported Jeff Kerekes, I wondered how King John would get revenge on Carolina should Kerekes lose. After all, Kermit Carolina was tapped to turn around the academics of a failing high school after bringing the school back to prominence in athletics. He has been doing just that- Hillhouse is clearly on the rebound academically now. But how does JD get back at a tenured, protected Administrator?
He smears, implies, intimates and uses a high profile public hearing to accomplish tarnishing Carolina’s impeccable reputation. It doesnt matter that the investigation will turn up nothing on him. The damage is done.
It’s done by an “old-school” assistant administrator who refuses to step up under Carolina and do the work necessary to improve the school. Cozy w JD and Mayo, this administrator could care less about the kids or Carolina- they just want to continue to collect a paycheck for doing next to nothing.
This is WHY it’s so hard to change the culture of the educational system in New Haven. Too many crabs crawling over one another. Too many cronies in positions of power.
First we let Gary Highsmith go to Hamden and now we want to impugn the reputation of a man who stands exactly for what we want our kids to strive- commitment, compassion, intelligence, leadership and service to others.
I find this incident depressing beyond words.
Keep up the good work, Principal Carolina. There are many of us who respect you and what you do and “have your back”.

posted by: brutus2011 on December 27, 2011  1:10pm

to “westville man:”

You mentioned Mr. Highsmith and Mr. Carolina as examples of competent and caring men who have been or are being impugned by New Haven city, BOE, and NHPS politicos.

The really depressing aspect of this is that the two gentlemen you mentioned are just the barest tip of a shameful iceberg.

There have been other caring and capable men of the community who have become “invisible.”(see Ralph Ellison)

This is Chairman Mayo’s worst sin-his complicity in assisting the powerful in the degradation of the qualified men of our community.

posted by: John Tulin on December 27, 2011  1:32pm

@ Et Tu?  All of that may be true, and probably is, and all valid concerns and condemnations.  Cross has its problems, Hillhouse too apparently. I was just suggesting that we stick to the point of the article and the source of the ire in this city:  John Destefeno.  Any and all of the change we all want to see come to this city begins with change at the top.  We citizens missed our chance a last month, but incidents like this only help our chances next time around.

posted by: TC on December 27, 2011  2:13pm

To Westville Man—- your reference to Ellison and men of “our” community leads me to believe you are referring to black men,right?  Well, this is my community being degraded , too, and I’m not black, so get off the race card. It’s overplayed and tired as the explanation for everything .... Think of something else, like the whole city, for once.

posted by: brutus2011 on December 27, 2011  2:45pm

to “TC:”

“westville man” did not write the post you refer to.

I did.

I will not back down one iota from what I wrote.

posted by: Natalie on December 27, 2011  3:38pm

I wonder how a handwriting analyst would interpret DeStefano handwriting.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 27, 2011  3:45pm

??? TC ..what are you reading? I do not see that ref. in westville mans comments I read it a few time??

posted by: WestvilleMan on December 27, 2011  6:03pm

TC.  I am white and I agree w Brutus.
Brutus.  I include Mr. Highsmith and Mr.Jefferson as they are connected to Principal Carolina, not because they are the only ones in that category.  We agree.

posted by: davecoon on December 27, 2011  6:29pm

I say thank you to the NHI and to most of the commentators for creating a vital and mostly civil forum for these issues concerning our city.  Think about what we would be like without it.
The articles and the ensuing debates seen in these pages over the holidays has been OUTSTANDING.
Speak truth to power and a small donation to the NHI on the side. We desperately need both in New Haven.

posted by: Darrell Allick on December 27, 2011  7:17pm

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!!!

posted by: True Dat on December 27, 2011  10:28pm

This is a response to comments made by “WESTVILLE MAN” about a Hillhouse administator.
It is always wise to speak or write about what you know, and not comment about things you don’t know.
The Hillhouse administrator who people are speculating about is a veteran administrator who sent her own children to the New
Haven public schools, both graduates of Hillhouse. Since being at Hillhouse she 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. This person 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. This person 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 when bell rings at the end of the 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 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 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 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. The administrator in question has an excellent attendance record.

posted by: westville man on December 28, 2011  10:22am

Tru Dat  

Let’s agree you can have your say and I can have mine. I stand by my post and actually left out some facts that would needlessly pile on to make my point.
If the current trend at Hillhouse continues toward improvement, then i guess we’ll know who’s doing their job and who isn’t (and wasn’t).
We’ll also know who has their facts straight.
True that??

posted by: TC on December 28, 2011  11:01am

WOW—an administrator who does work on the WEEKENDS for no extra pay!! What a shock!! Join the teachers who do that every day, every year, year in and year out.

And big new schools and big fat administrator salaries don’t lead to better educated students? Another shock! Tell me something I don’t know.

posted by: an inside take on December 30, 2011  8:17am

... People, as much as I hate DeStafano and think he’s been in office too long, these allegations didn’t appear out of thin air…. I just hope that the investigate doesn’t dissolve because of the smoke screen of a scandal.

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