Infighting Puts Super Search On Hold

Markeshia Ricks PhotoMichelle Liu PhotoThe search for the next school superintendent has hit the skids and interviews with semi-finalists have been canceled, thanks to a new outbreak of infighting that has paralyzed the Board of Education.

After an executive search firm deemed no internal candidate worthy of a second-round interview, the Board of Education has splintered: Three board members want to proceed with interviewing those candidates that the company recommended; three others want to retool the selection process that rejected all local applicants.

With that even split — which held Monday night after intensive closed-door lobbying of one board member, Frank Redente —  the process has jammed to a halt. While the board members arm-wrestle over Redente’s swing vote, interviews with six semifinalists, originally scheduled for this Wednesday, have been postponed indefinitely.

While board members are split on whether an internal candidate from New Haven’s schools should get a shot at becoming superintendent, they are tussling internally. Tuesday morning, the board’s president weakened a fellow board member’s control overseeing the search process; the board member refused to accept the change.

New Haven has been without a superintendent since the board pushed out Garth Harries last October. (Since then, retired Superintendent Reggie Mayo has filled in on an interim basis.)

And the Board of Ed has been short-handed since July, when Daisy Gonzalez, the former president, died unexpectedly. Among her priorities had been hiring a new superintendent. The month before her death, Gonzalez pledged that firm the board hired, Hazard, Attea, Young & Associates (HYA), would scour “nationwide” in order “to find the right leader for New Haven Public Schools.” But that process Gonzalez initiated now looks ready to slip out of control.

The schism over whom to hire next is just one of the roadblocks that the panel is facing as the school year begins. Its squabbling members haven’t been showing up, and a tie-breaking appointment must wait on a months-long nomination and approval process at the Board of Alders.

And the ed board’s members are arguing about ... how to hold meetings, as two members, including the mayor, have boycotted sessions.

The fractures on all those issues exploded on Tuesday morning when the school board’s two elected members, Ed Joyner, the board president, and Darnell Goldson, the superintendent search committee chair — former allies in last year’s board wars — traded scathing emails. Goldson, amid all the fighting, has appealed to the state to rule against the board’s process as a violation of open meeting laws.

At 6:23 a.m., Goldson emailed Joyner, copying his colleagues, three district employees and the two search consultants. He asked when Joyner planned to inform him about the interviews being cancelled. Then he added, “This interference by you has been a major stumbling block for moving this process forward, beginning when you convinced the BOE to switch search companies based on hearsay regarding the former company’s potential to complete the job adequately”  —  a reference to Joyner’s suggestion that they avoid one head-hunting firm the district considered before HYA —  “now leading up to scheduling illegal and improper meetings. I implore you to discontinue this interference and allow the process to move forward with increased community and stakeholder involvement, as I have outlined throughout my tenure as Chair.” Goldson said he’d tell the candidates of the cancellation directly, if he didn’t hear from Joyner by noon.

At 7:36 a.m., Joyner replied, in bold, “You are no longer the chair.

He continued, “Your chronic absence and admission that you were boycotting general meetings, your failure to engage in phone conversations with the firm during the entire process, along with your having missed every event the group scheduled with community stakeholders, are other reasons that I exercised my prerogative as board president to make changes” — a reference to his addition of two board members as search co-chairs. “You have no authority to inform potential candidates of anything. That would be a matter decided by the whole board and not one chronically absent member.”

At 7:57 a.m., Goldson responded, “The full BOE ratified my chairmanship, and only the full BOE can remove me as chair. Since you have not included an item on an agenda of a duly and legally called meeting, you don not have the authority to remove me or add chairs to the committee. Despite that, you certainly are derelict in your duties as the president of the board to call and cancel meetings without full notification of ALL BOE members. Despite your inaccurate description of ... my attendance ..., I am an ELECTED member of the BOE that you cannot ignore or remove. You are now violating state and local laws in your current activities. Very disappointing. Your leadership thus far has been a dismal failure. We are now at a crossroads of disfunction which you have not only failed to successfully manage, but have actually caused.” He continued, “[P]lease discontinue on this path. Please follow state and local statutes, ordinances and our bylaws, and more than anything, please work with ALL your board members to gets us back on track. ... PLEASE PLEASE fix this.”

The Swing Vote

Christopher Peak PhotoThe decision when to resume the superintendent search rests with Frank Redente, Sr., a 40-year employee at Farnam Neighborhood House who was appointed to the school board by Mayor Toni Harp this past January. He chairs the school board’s Finance & Operations Committee, which doles out millions in contracts. He’s the swing vote that’s vacillated on how quickly the hiring process should proceed.

Last week, Redente told the Register, “I want to select as soon as possible. This has been going on and going on and going on.” He added that he hoped to have a superintendent in place by the year’s end, as “a nice Christmas present for the kids.”

But a few days later, he flipped. On Monday, he told the Independent, “This has been going on for 10 months. What’s the rush?”

In between, Redente sent an email to his fellow board members detailing his thought process. “I am especially concerned that not one applicant with New Haven connections is even being given an interview for the position,” he wrote in a Saturday email. “What does it say about the process when qualified applicants (those with an 093 certification),” state-issued credentials to be a superintendent, “who work in New Haven … do not have a chance to lead the district? And what does it say about us — all of us on the Board of Education — when we do not seem to care if there are any New Haven candidates interviewed?”

That email set off a lobbying campaign by both sides. On Monday morning, Harp and Jason Bartlett, her youth services director and liaison to the school board, called Redente into a meeting at City Hall. Redente left the meeting on Harp’s side, in opposition to the current search process because the interview finalists do not include an internal candidate and and the search process hasn’t involved more consultation with New Haveners.

Later in the evening, after two board committee meetings ended, three school board members — Ed Joyner, Carlos Torre, and Che Dawson — asked the press to leave the room and cornered Redente about his position. Their arguments didn’t persuade him, and the superintendent interviews, which candidates expected to happen two days later, have been called off.

Right Fit for New Haven

The conflict about internal hires revives a debate that swirled around Harries’ promotion from assistant superintendent to the district’s leader. Back in 2013, parents and teachers felt that he’d been groomed for the role and that his pick as superintendent was inevitable. They were proved right when the board unanimously voted him in.

This time around, the board has tried to avoid another coronation. That’s part of why it hired HYA to conduct the search, paying the firm $24,500 in compensation, plus up to $13,785 in reimbursements for ancillary costs like “advertising, background checks, travel costs and other expenses.” The firm has been criticized for interviewing only 41 people, none of them students, about what they wanted in the next superintendent; the firm said they believed they’d collected enough feedback with over 1,000 responses to an online survey that matched their in-person focus groups.

At an Aug. 28 board meeting, where HYA presented its findings from those surveys, Dawson said the district is “battling this perception that someone is already pre-selected.” In response, the search firm’s lead consultant, Ed McCormick, shot down the idea that there’d be any “insider trading.”

“We’re arm’s length; we’re third-party,” McCormick said. “We take great pride in the integrity of the candidates we bring to you. That’s why we spend a lot of time on this process and what you believe are the right fits for New Haven.”

“Politics,” he added, “has not entered our process, and I don’t think it will as we move forward.”

(McCormick did not respond to a request for comment on Monday night.)

When HYA first began looking for candidates, the consultants asked board members in executive session whether they wanted to award additional points to internal applicants. Those present all said no, according to Torre, who’s now the board’s vice president.

Only after the revelation of the results of that decision, with no New Haven candidates among the six semi-finalists, did a non-issue suddenly become front-and-center.

Torre questioned why the board hired the search firm if it wanted to meddle in the process. “They put the candidates that fit the bill the best in front of us. We knew that from the beginning; this is what search firms do. Now people are objecting,” he said. “We need to look at what’s best for our kids and not individual agendas.”

Joyner noted that criticisms could have been brought up earlier, rather than days before candidates were about to fly in for interviews.

“Why do I believe the process was fair? All of this was negotiated with the board at the beginning, and it’s up to the [search committee] chair” — Goldson — “to, in a timely manner, communicate if he felt that things were not going well,” Joyner said.

At least two internal candidates whose applications were rejected have since emailed the board requesting interviews.

“I was disappointed that internal candidates were not seen as viable candidates by the search firm to interview for the office of Superintendent in this school system in which they have devoted their lives,” Iline Tracey, one of the district’s three directors of curriculum and instruction, wrote on Sunday morning. “The Board is not obligated to select any of us, but at least I would like to know that my work is valued.”

Redente says he wants to give Iline and other internal candidates a chance to make their pitch to the board.

“From the start, the community has said that it wanted someone who knows New Haven, knows our kids, and can connect with our kids. Who knows our kids better than the people who work here every day, or live here, pay taxes and/or send their kids to school here? I’m not saying that living in New Haven or working here should guarantee a candidate the job but my God, at least they should be given an interview,” he wrote to his colleagues. “The Board hired the search firm to work for us. We don’t work for the search firm. … Therefore, I am demanding that we interview all qualified applicants with New Haven connections…. If doing so slows down the process again, so be it, because our families deserve to have the best person as superintendent no matter how long that may take.”

Goldson said the process should resume only after the interview committee is expanded, more stakeholders get involved and the process by which potential candidates were ranked is reviewed.

“We only get once chance to get this right, so rushing the process without adequate stakeholder buy-in would be a huge mistake,” he said in an email to the Independent. “We should have learned from the previous process what to do and what not to do. Not getting community buy-in would be disastrous.”

“Quorum” Consequences

Beyond that hire, the school board is also having trouble completing its regular business.

Joyner said he has been concerned about the bylaw’s quorum requirements, which necessitate five members be present before opening a meeting, ever since Gonzalez died. That’s because, while her replacement Jamell Cotto’s nomination is still pending approval before the Board of Alders, the school board can afford to lose only one additional member per session to meet the five-member bar for a quorum. “If you don’t get that straight, you can’t do business,” Joyner explained.

A majority of board members voted to change those rules to allow for a quorum. But questions have emerged about whether that was done legally.

At an Aug. 14 board meeting, Dawson, the governance committee chair who’s is in charge of keeping the bylaws up to date, suggested lowering the requirements for action from a “unanimous vote of five members” to just four. That change would reflect the new number needed for a majority, ever since the board was shrunk to seven members in the charter revision. Harp seconded his motion, and it was approved by the four members present and one who’d called in by phone.

One problem: That meeting wasn’t properly called to order. A district employee had failed to post the agenda 24 hours ahead of time, constituting a potential violation of the state’s open meetings law.

Joyner, who was assuming the role of board president for the first time, said he contacted Thomas Hennick, the public education officer at the state’s Freedom of Information Commission, about whether the vote was invalid.

Here’s the conversation, as Joyner recounted it to the Independent:

“‘It depends. That was put in place to keep agencies from fooling the public, from having something they want to do covertly.’ Because there’s freedom of information. So, anything that we discuss should be out in the public: That’s why democracy lives in light, not darkness, OK?

“So I said, ‘The vote that we made?’ He said, ‘Was it a public meeting?’ I said, ‘Yes, it was. We had press there, so I wasn’t trying to hide anything.’

“He said, ‘Did you discuss stuff that wasn’t on the agenda?’ ‘No, we didn’t. We followed it.’”

That was enough for Joyner to believe he was on sure legal footing, he said.

A week later, though, the bylaw change showed up on the agenda again, at an Aug. 22 special meeting. Goldson agreed to call in to the meeting approve crucial hires and contracts, on the condition that there not be a vote on the bylaws. That’s exactly what Joyner announced before the meeting: “We’re going to skip the approval of bylaw policy on quorum,” he said.

Goldson later explained what was going on at that moment: “They took it off, because I told them I wouldn’t attend the meeting if it was on the agenda.”

Why? “I said it was a major change; I was uncomfortable making those sort of changes, without having the process in place on how to amend our bylaws,” he told the Independent last week.

That’s important to Goldson, he said, because he worries about what changes outgoing board members might make before their terms expire at the end of the year. “I think it’s unfair to handcuff the new board coming on and the new superintendent that will eventually be coming on with parting shots from these guys who are leaving. I believe the quorum is just the beginning. I believe that sets them up for some other stuff; I don’t know what it’s going to be.”

Calling The FOIC

Goldson has since filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission against his colleagues. He said that the non-vote on the quorum requirements at the special meeting was revealing. “You can’t admit that you didn’t do it, schedule a special meeting to re-do it, don’t re-do it and then come to another meeting and say, ‘Well, it was done the first meeting okay,’” he said. “Here’s the deal: I don’t care if the mayor’s doing it or Ed’s doing it. If they’re doing it wrong, I’m going to try to correct it.” He said he’s considering hiring an attorney to file an injunction.

“They’re a rogue board that are not following the rules, not following state law, and are out of control,” Goldson concluded. “I’m just shocked by it, and I’m not quite sure what to do about it. Because I keep telling Ed, the last thing I want to do is have a public fight about it, which will then cause [superintendent] candidates to drop out and leave us in a worse position. But I can’t allow them to continue to operate like this.”

Joyner said that Goldson, by filing a complaint, is “trying to hang the district on a technicality.”

He added that he would repeat his decision. “If you have to weigh risking whatever sanction or punishment that ensues from voting anyway to put people in classrooms, allow them to retire properly, get contracts done, and you have to risk that knowing that a person has said, ‘I’m not coming,’ I’ll take that,” Joyner said. “There’s certain things I won’t compromise. I won’t compromise our children, and I’m not going to have someone tell me I’m wrong for doing something right.”

Hennick clarified to the Independent that he said he “recommended that they reschedule the meeting and revote on everything in question, because even if a violation was found — I’m not sure if there was or wasn’t — then they’ve fixed the problem.”

There are three possible outcomes, following Goldson’s complaint to the FOIC:

(1) The panel could find that there wasn’t a violation;

(2) The panel could determine there wasn’t proper notice and issue a reprimand, effectively, “Don’t do it again,” Hennick said; or ...

(3) The panel could say that the violation was so egregious that they find all actions that day “null and void,” Hennick said. In that case, votes at the last two meetings, on Aug. 28 and on Sept. 11, when only four school board members voted on major items needed to kick off the school year, could technically be thrown out. Among the items that could be challenged, there’s the school board’s election of Torre as vice-president, a review of the district’s policy on administering medication to students, $371,250 in grants for off-hours community learning centers and $1,306,047 in other state funds, a $643,765 Yale University School of Medicine study on the early identification of dyslexia, $5,748,783 in contracts, 76 new hires, two firings, 38 food-service staff assignments, and 39 transfers.

“As we sit here today, all of this may be in play,” Hennick added.

At the Aug. 28 meeting, the questions about the board’s legality continued, when only four members showed. Dawson noted, “Right now, we have four board members present, and there’s some question about whether that’s a quorum,” he said. “It’s unclear as to what was approved. I know we had to bring that to the board again, but it is imperative that we can move ahead with business in circumstances like this.” During a five-minute recess about halfway through the meeting, the four board members agreed to go ahead with approving hires and contracts, as if the quorum had been lowered two weeks prior.

Dawson and the others haven’t had a chance to officially ratify the change since. Neither Goldson nor Harp hashown up recently.

Goldson missed two meetings. On Aug. 28, he was in Puerto Rico on vacation, and on Sept. 11, he was boycotting the meeting to avoid a vote on lowering the quorum requirements. He also didn’t show up on Aug. 14, where the quorum change was first voted on, because he’d been told that was not a meeting.

Harp missed three meetings. On Aug. 22, she was at the Connecticut Open tennis tournament; on Aug. 28, she double-booked her schedule with a press event, a meeting in her office, and then a political event; and on Sept. 11, even though she scheduled an hour-and-a-half block for the Board of Education, she skipped the meeting.

The mayor told the Independent Monday that she skipped the most recent meeting because it was the night before the Democratic mayoral primary But she said she skipped the previous two meetings intentionally because she was unhappy with the way the board’s leadership handled amending the bylaws and rushing the search schedule. (Harp had seconded the motion to lower the quorum threshold on Aug. 14; the interview schedule wasn’t discussed until the Aug. 28 meeting.)

“I felt uncomfortable being railroaded in a particular direction,” Harp said. “Until we function like a group, not a dictatorship, I thought it was best not to go.” She said she anticipates attending the next meeting, figuring that quorum and search-process issues will be resolved.

Joyner, the school board president, said disputes with the board’s leadership are a poor excuse for absenteeism from meetings. “Tell us what those problems are. Come to a meeting and say, ‘The board president is not doing this or that.’ Or if you’re being respectful, call the person and say, ‘I don’t think you did that right,’” Joyner said. “It’s hard to talk to people when you recognize that they may have another agenda, instead of being about the kids.”

One Last Member

Meanwhile, a lot of this wrangling would have been unnecessary if the board had filled the vacancy created by Daisy Gonzalez’s death. But that takes a while.

It took about a month for Mayor Toni Harp to choose a successor to Gonzalez, Jamell Cotto.

Cotto can’t take the seat until the Board of Alders confirms Harp’s appointment.

That vote can’t happen until the board’s Alder Affairs Committee holds a hearing on it, and that won’t happen until the full board refers the matters to it.

Because the full board meets only twice a month — and in the summer, only monthly — it can’t do that until it has a full meeting. That finally happened in August, when the full board and referred Cotto’s appointment to committee.

But the committee didn’t hold a hearing in August; in fact, it didn’t have one scheduled until Sept. 25. Cotto’s appointment is on the agenda for that upcoming meeting.

After that, the matter returns to the full board for consideration. But the board doesn’t vote on the matter at its next meeting. It has a “first reading.” Then it waits until another meeting for a “second reading” before a vote. So it’s mid-October at the earliest.

Mayor Harp said she has spoken with alder leaders about speeding up the approval process. She said she respects the right of alders to question and vote on appointments, but believes it needn’t take months, especially to replace someone who has unexpectedly died.

Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker was asked about that issue Monday night.

“We’re going to deal with the Board of Education like we deal with all the boards and commissions,” she responded. “And if it’s a conversation that needs to be had about trying to develop a process so that we’re meeting quorum, I’m always open to have that conversation. But I’m not committing to developing a fast track process without more information on timeframes on when everything needs to happen.”

Paul Bass and Markeshia Ricks contributed reporting.

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posted by: Ewood_Parent on September 19, 2017  9:11am

“No Politics” involved??? Someone should check into the relationship between Dr. Joyner and Mr. McCormick….there is more than people know…... Ed is trying to strong arm the search process so he has control of the next Superintendent. Cheers for Mr. Redente for standing up for our children, our schools and our City! He is a man of integrity and principle and he is truly an advocate for our youth and NOT a politician!! Good for you Frank!!

posted by: JayC on September 19, 2017  9:21am

This dysfunctional conduct is disgraceful, as it results in grave disservice to the students of New Haven.  I suggest that that the current system under which the Board members are elected should be radically revised. Almost anything would be an improvement, and would better serve our City and our students and teachers.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on September 19, 2017  9:36am

What an extraordinarily disgusting display of ego and hubris. While adopting a state budget remains elusive, threats to funding public education in urban districts like New Haven are imminent , and federal policies exacerbate the underlying socioeconomic challenges that are already ever present in this area, the group of people elected and appointed to lead this district engage in territorial pissing matches and thump their chests to prove who controls the puddle. Given the magnitude of these funding challenges it certainly makes sense to choose someone with experience leading a district and not just someone who can brag about which NHPS high school they attended.

The very same people who bragged about Coral Ortiz when her amazing speech went viral should perhaps listen to it again until the message sinks in. Because the people who lose the most here arent the personal friends, classmates, and family members who see this search as an opportunity to get a perch they may not deserve. The people our BOE took an oath to protect and promote are the students and families of this district who are reminded once again that they dont matter. Shame on this Board. Again.

posted by: GroveStreet on September 19, 2017  9:51am

Goldson is a dismal failure on so many fronts. For he and the mayor to seize the opportunity to subvert the will of a person who unexpectedly passed away? Unforgivable.

Those two are not looking at what is best for the students and families in New Haven. They are looking to gain political points locally.

Also, for internal candidates who were part of the Harries disaster to ask for reconsideration, that is just pathetic. Not only would I not reconsider, I’d suggest that they keep push that resume out.

posted by: JohnTulin on September 19, 2017  10:05am

Business as usual in New Haven.  Incompetence, which starts at the top.  Can’t believe these people show their faces in public.  This taxpayer votes ‘no confidence’ on the whole board.  Just go away….

posted by: Noteworthy on September 19, 2017  10:06am

General Comment: This is pathetic. Get your shxt together folks and quit your silly power plays and personal grudges. You’ve got 21,000 kids to educate. Park your BS at the door and get to work or get off the board.

Mayor Harp = your childish refusal to engage with the board just because you don’t like it’s direction is a pathetic display of leadership or frankly, the lack of leadership and executive management skills. This is becoming your trademark - “I want it my way…” Or you’ll go around the BOA, you’ll boycott meetings and choose partying and politics over our children. If you’re supposed to be the mayor of this city - act like it or get out of office too. These games you and others play at the expense of all of us and our kids is about as despicable as they come.

We’re seeing the SOS at the state level too - that’s why we don’t have a budget and are looking down the barrel of a $72 million cut in state grants. This city has no real savings account and its ability to handle that kind of financial shock is anemic - in fact, it can’t. We only have .3% in reserves. This is also under Harp’s leadership. It’s time for those who call themselves public servants to act like it. And act like responsible adults too.

posted by: LivingInNewHaven on September 19, 2017  10:20am

Thank you Frank Redente for standing up for our youth.  Your decades of dedication to youth development surely guided you to your decision to stop a process that seems to be spoiled behind the scenes.  It is clear that a certain board member is hell bent on controlling the superintendent since he can’t be the superintendent.
Let the bylaws be reviewed. Are there bylaws about recusing oneself on board actions involving 1st degree relatives! Or bylaws around how a board member should be blocking actions against 1st degree relatives who don’t perform on the job at a school? 
Get rid of the search company. Get a new impartial search company.  The search committee should involve more community stake holders from all factions in our community.
The BOE needs to toss all of that ego maniac energy out the window!!!!

posted by: Inside 165 on September 19, 2017  10:36am

Joyner interpretation of CY foi laws seem convienant, and totally wrong. The law wasn’t established to if you don’t properly post meetings but some people show up anyway than it ok because what you did wasn’t totally hidden. The law is clear as interpreted by the freedom of information commission and the CT courts.

When you fail to properly post a meeting, regardless of how many people find out about it and attend, then any business you conduct at that meeting is null and void. Clearly Joyner knows this due to his re-posting a bylaw change on a subsequent agenda. Cmon Ed you should know better. Your a valuable asset to the BOE. Don’t let it go to your head and blow it.

The issue itself of who to choose and current employees v non district employees is purely politics over substance. Many people may meet the minimum qualification but once you start digging they don’t shine a brightly as others who have more trading, degrees and experience.

Redente, although seemingly thoughtful in his approach, is just a nice person who is easily pushed around by the Mayor and her lapdog Bartlett. Frank should keep his talents serving the Farnham NH where his efforts made positive impacts on our community. Get off the BOE. Your over your head and to much of a political neophyte who will be stained by the likes of Harp, Bartlett and other morally bankrupt charlatans.

posted by: tmctague on September 19, 2017  11:08am

Read and sign our petition to urge the Board of Education to choose a superintendent committed to a more just NHPS. Please share with your communities.

posted by: FacChec on September 19, 2017  11:09am

All one would have to do is read the past current event (tags) of the NHI to understand the problem here with the Mayor and the BOE.

Tag: “Board of Education” Tags: Toni Harp, Board of Education, Ed Joyner, Darnell Goldson, Freedom of Information Commission, Thomas Hennick

Infighting Puts Super Search On Hold »
Wanted: Schools Chief To Rebuild Trust »
90 New Educators Hired »
Harp Picks Cotto For Board Of Education Seat »
Ed Board Leader Daisy Gonzalez Dies »
Ortiz’s Parting Plea: Civility & Courage »
Maybe By 2018? »
Harp Domestic Violence Challenge: Help The Batterers, Too »
School Board Sets Sights On Puerto Rico »
Want To Trash A Board Member? Line Up »
Challenger Takes On Joyner For Ed Board »
Hushed Bartlett Raise Sparks School Board Action »
Students March On City Hall »
New Delays On All-Boys School, Superintendent Search »
All Boys’ Would-Be School Jumps The Gun »
Mayo Asked To Stick Around Longer »
Kimber’s Charter Sparks Creed Backlash »
Board Of Ed Gets New Prez »
Harp Stepping Down As Board Of Ed Prez »
Trump Unites Once-Fractious Ed Board »
5 Weeks, 5 Teacher Resignations »
Interim Superintendent Job Posted »
3 Heads Roll: Change? Chaos? Democracy? »
Ed Board Approves 1-Year Teacher Contract Extension »
Harries Is Out »
Harp Blasts Harries’ School Board Foes »
New Ed Board Battle Brews »
Harries Negotiating Exit »
Student Ed Board Members Find Their Voice »
Harries Moves Leaders Without Board OK »

As you can see this Board received $182M last year, ran a $4.5M deficit, has no idea of 2018 funding levels, and continues to produce this childish, me first, kids last, performance.

This article makes no mention of the Mayor’s input, oh, that’s right she was in Bridgeport supporting a failed casino idea that the state cannot fund.
True vote - NO

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on September 19, 2017  1:08pm

M-I-C-K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E!

If you were a top-notch candidate, with choices, why in the world would you get involved with New Haven’s Board of Ed?

You wouldn’t. And thanks to the buffoonery, we are destined to end up with a 2nd tier Superintendent.

posted by: Wakeupnewhaven on September 19, 2017  1:13pm

Thank you Mr. Redente. You’ve always been a fighter for the New Haven Community. Way to show them that they can’t use and abuse people. I’ve always had respect for you since my Farnham house days.

posted by: Winter is Coming on September 19, 2017  2:18pm


posted by: FairHavenParent on September 19, 2017  2:22pm

What I don’t understand is why Carlos Torre and Che Dawson allowed the Puppet Master Joyner pull their little puppet strings.  Yes we need a Superintendent, like yesterday, but Dawson and Torre will be gone and Redente has to do business with 3 new board members, duh.  Joyner reiterates public is desperate for a Superintendent but fails miserably at following state law.  Give me a break.  I smell Joyner’s resignation from his board seat that Mr. Cotto bubble wrapped for him when he pulled out of the race at the convention.  And inquiring minds want to know where Mr. Cotto stands in terms of the tables turning?  Interesting he’s awfully quiet on the subject.  This is like an episode from Wild Earth, where the Leopard (Frank Redente) stalks the baby Impala (Mr. McCormick), he never saw the Italian Stallion coming.  While the three Stooges (Joyner, Dawson and Torre) watch and scratch their heads. 


posted by: ACaraballo on September 19, 2017  2:27pm

How disappointing…almost a year ago when Mr. Harries left the district the search process needed to start right away, the district had all of the spring and summer to seek community input, by the way, that should of been easy since we have a whole department of Community, Youth and Families, fully staffed schools as well as central office personnel.  Students could of been engaged in interviewing their parents in what they want to see in district leadership, all parent organizations as well as the many community organizations already involved in the schools could of been involved getting this community input that now Mr.Goldsen,  the Chair of the Search Committees and others are now blaming the Board, the search firm for not doing.
What is even more tragic…August and September are critical months for the Board to approve new hires to ensure that teachers and schools have the necessary resources to start the school year right, instead we have the Mayor and Mr. Goldson boycotting meetings and not wanting the critical important work to be done.  Oh…and what is even crazier is because the search process which included interviews, background checks, all the work directed by the Board to the search firm did not yield any local candidates.
Meanwhile the necessary work to prepare our 22,000 students to learn, excel and be prepared for college, work, etc takes a back seat to this circus.

posted by: GroveStreet on September 19, 2017  3:32pm

Make no mistake, this boycotting of Board meetings is sabotage. Not moving forward because of personal interests doesn’t just negatively impact students right now, but it builds a climate that will discourage the best and brightest potential leaders from coming here.

Shame on the Mayor and triple shame on Goldson, who seems to be just trying to carve out a future for himself. 22,000 students be damned.

posted by: HhE on September 19, 2017  3:59pm

If one rather watch tennis than attend a meeting, then shame on you for insisting on being on the BoE.

posted by: Jim425 on September 19, 2017  4:07pm

All of the voters in District 1 have a chance to help start to remedy this awful situation with the Board of Education this year.  Dr. Joyner is up for reelection this year and the voters of New Haven have the choice to help end this mess.  The apparent infighting on the Board is certainly not good for the kids in New Haven.  Leadership seems to be sorely lacking.There is a fine candidate opposing Dr. Joyner this year, Kate Adams.  Although the odds are certainly against a non-Democrat winning any election in New Haven perhaps this is the time to at least not vote blindly for the incumbent.  The Board of Education needs new blood and just maybe its time to learn about Kate and give Kate the opportunity to step up and begin to right this unfolding disaster.

posted by: nhv1 on September 19, 2017  4:25pm

Thank you Mr. Redente for allowing more time for public input and ensuring that someone from district will have at least an opportunity to be interviewed. We need someone who knows New Haven first instead of having an out-of-state Joyner crony as superintendent.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 19, 2017  5:08pm

The bylaws of the BOE, usually in conjunction with rules of parliamentary procedure, control how business is done. If the Chair can appoint the head of a committee, the chair can dis-appoint. But if the Board votes on a committee chair, then removal also has to be by a vote of the Board.
    As for changing the size of the quorum, it makes sense to reduce the number from 5 to 4 when the Board is 7 people. But what do the bylaws say is the size of the meeting required for such a change? If it’s not based on the number of those attending the meeting and the quorum of 5, the vote is likely void.
    And do the bylaws allow for attendance and voting by phone to meet quorum requirements?
    Goldson’s filing a complaint with the FOIC is not about a “technical” issue. Proper notice of the meeting and the agenda are required by law, as is following the rules for changing the quorum number.
    Boycotts by the Mayor and Goldson are bad form. They have responsibilities and can’t stay away because they don’t like how things are going. The Mayor inserted herself into the Board of Education and now she boycotts it?
    This is not the first board to operate with an incomplete knowledge of the rules, which raises the question as to what kind of training board members are given.
      Joyner should not rely on a phone call with the FOIC because all the facts are not yet on the table.
      I suggest a quick consultation with Corporation Counsel to see if this can be settled by the Board without further delays.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 19, 2017  5:45pm

Three board members want to proceed with interviewing those candidates that the company recommended; three others want to retool the selection process that rejected all local applicants.

I have some one.GARY Highsmith is perfect for this position.He was born and rasised in New Haven.He attended NEw Haven public schools and graduated. His children attend the NHPS system.Acutually.One graduated and the other is in high school.He work as a teacher,vice principal and principal in the NHPS for over 15 years before serving as principal at Hamden High school for 9 years.He now serves as director of Human Resources for the Hamden School district and he his his 093 certification.This guy Frank Redente is right.New Haven should look in its own back yard for Talented individualas before going out fact history show when you hire out side they do not stay long.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on September 19, 2017  7:52pm

People have been critical of several of the members of the Board of Education, and the cloud of confusion and chaos that has surrounded the Board low these many months. Those who have attended Board meetings regularly and follow what has been reported in the media know that the centrifugal force causing the storms of chaos and confusion is Mayor TonI Harp.
Harp came on a BOE with several highly qualified, experienced, trained, professional educators and attempted to shape school policy and make decisions alone apart from the BOE. That was a formula for chaos, conflict and disunity.
Here is a list of conflicts created by Harp that caused or intensified the divide on the BOE: Harp’s unprecedented assumption of the BOE presidency, her unrelenting support of Garth Harries’ superintendency in light of obvious incompetence, her promotion and support of a controversial separate school for Black boys, her attempt to usurp control of the BOE and make it a branch of City Hall (Harp was frequently reminded that she was mayor of the city, not mayor of the Board), her scheme to stack the BOE with people she could, or thought she could, control and manipulate to carry out her agenda (On more than one occasion her appointees shocked and disappointed Harp by voting contrary to her position on certain issues), her controversial and divisive appointment of Jason Bartlett as “liaison to the BOE” a totally new and unnecessary position at a cost of $20,000 to the city, and of later her boycott of the BOE to prevent a quorum and seemingly to block the appointment of a new superintendent until next year when her two new appointees will presumably give Harp control of BOE decisions. There may be more examples.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on September 19, 2017  8:01pm

With the support of Darnell Goldson, who complains now that the process was not fully open to the public even though he was chair of the search committee and responsible for communication of information to the community about the search process, and now Frank Redente, who flipflopped on the search procedure faster than a windmill in a hurricane, after a meeting with Harp and her educational adviser Jason Bartlett, Harp may cause all six finalists for the superintendent position to withdraw their names.
These three are changing the rules of the search process when the BOE was nearly approaching the finish line! This last ditch appeal for internal candidates smacks of politicization of this process.
We paid over $30,000 for an independent national search for the BEST qualified candidate, when Harp all along may have had someone local in mind for the job who she can control like she did Garth Harries!

posted by: Latina on September 19, 2017  9:33pm

What a joke!! And all these emails info leak. Wow!! That speaks about people on that board. Joyner wants full control and the board cannot agree. No student included as part of the interviews???? This is super wrong!! Please board work together and stop micromanaging each other..

posted by: CTLifer on September 19, 2017  11:28pm

This entire process, as well as the position is 100% political.  It is time that politics is removed and the right candidate for the position is hired who is not only qualified, but genuinely cares for the quality of education that New Haven provides.  In my personal opinion, the bulk of internal candidates are unqualified, except for Richard Thierrien (sorry about the spelling!), and I am not even certain he is still interested in the position.  He has illustrated an exceptional level of competency and true passion for teaching children in a way they will learn.  Additionally, he has little to no political ties in New Haven. He will work for the kids in the schools, not the ones in City Hall.

posted by: westville man on September 20, 2017  8:25am

I will second 3/5ths- Gary Highsmith for Superintendent!  Great educator and administrator…great choice for New Haven!

posted by: Flunky on September 20, 2017  8:57am

We need a super who treats all teachers, including women, with respect, that leaves out Terrien who is going to Bridgeport anyway.
Highsmith is too political.

posted by: Realmom21 on September 20, 2017  10:00am

As much as the idea of Gary Highsmith sounds AWESOME tell me why in anyone’s RIGHT mind would he leave a district who embraced and nurtured his growth. Who puts budget information up front and gave him a salary that was comparable to what others doing the same job are receiving. New Haven is not in the position to pay a superintendent what they should be. They are have been and will continue to struggle financially because of this but backwards PILOT program that doesn’t remotely cover the forfeited taxes. The bureaucracy and child like games played by board members for past decades. Lets be real it has been a three ring circus long before current MAYOR .It just got a spot light because it was a power move to self appoint but the scores didn’t fall over night , the buildings were rebuilt but the leadership and educators have been in controversy for decades. Run GARY RUN(in my forest gump voice)

posted by: JohnTulin on September 20, 2017  10:22am

While we’re at it…whatever happened to the Restorative Practice initiative?  Billy Johnson was handed a few hundred thousand to run this program for three years.  The initiative achieved nothing, he was let go (after a single year?), and the money disappeared (those involved in the program say he squandered it all at fancy dinners at Amarante’s and working happy hours).  Does anyone follow up on these things? 

This would make a great story, Paul!  The problem with the BoE in a nutshell; a district run by incompetent con-men who are never held accountable.

posted by: westville man on September 20, 2017  12:53pm

@ Flunky-  “too political”?  Because he fights for the kids he’s responsible for? Get your facts straight.

posted by: CTLifer on September 20, 2017  11:02pm

Flunky-when and where has Richard ever discriminated against anyone???  He is one of the few Supervisors who I have never seen ‘throw’ any ill behavior towards anyone!

posted by: Flunky on September 21, 2017  6:08am

Highsmith supported Kurmit Carolina against Mayo and in mayoral run in 2013 to set himself up as super or his friends.
The other, Thirrien seen him bully with my own eyes.
Neither have the temperment to run a district. Give us someone nice.

posted by: I Know on September 21, 2017  7:40am

Internal candidates who know of the messy BOE meetings and disrespectful folks still want to be interviewed? What do they hope to gain? Are these the same folks who will interview them? Why would they want to subject themselves to humiliation and incompetency? Why would they want to be second best?
The families of NHPS know your work. The students, administrators and teachers know your work.
Run far from this Board who don’t believe you are good enough. Keep your dignity in tact and don’t let them taint your reputation. We appreciate your work. Shame on some BOE members for looking outside for their “exceptional” paper cut candidates. Keep on working for our families. New folks will come and go, but all of you have demonstrated tenacity and grit. We wish Dr. Mayo was younger and could stay on longer. This system needs someone with his profile—long time educator, come up through the ranks in NHPS, knows the families, administrators, teachers, parents, community etc. We need someone who will not be wasting time doing listening tours to know the lay of the land—we need people who will hit the ground running. Our students and their families deserve this. No MORE experimentation with our children!!!

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on September 21, 2017  7:03pm

“Give us someone nice.”

Dr. Tracey it is then! 

I think what’s going on is they’ve realized that when an outsider gets a look at the books, a lot of sunlight is going to rush into some dark, cobwebby corners—perhaps with greater consequences than mere embarrassment.

posted by: I Know on September 22, 2017  5:38am

Jill the Pill Commented on a comment “give us someone nice” then mentioned “Dr. Tracey then”.

What is wrong with being nice? This is a fine educator in our system who is brilliant and hard working, with great people skills. We need more nice people in this world of hatred and bigotry. If you know Dr. Tracey, you would know that she is beyond nice.  She is a woman of substance.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on September 22, 2017  8:19am

@I Know—

You’re reading sarcasm where there is none.  I agree entirely with your comment.

posted by: SLP on September 22, 2017  10:01am

Anybody notice it’s the two elected members who are taking the lead on grandstanding?

posted by: Brutus2011 on September 22, 2017  1:10pm

It seems to be the “same-ol, same-ol.”

The tired phrase, ” . . . given my (their) life to public education,”

or, ” I want to be respected or valued . . .”

is the bleating of the incompetence of highly paid administrators.

So, let’s bring in someone from the outside, give them independence from the mayor’s office, and let them clean house and change the climate of those above the classroom.

What have we got to lose except,

the “same-ol, same-ol.”