Hillhouse Rallies For Carolina

As a probe into allegations of grade tampering at Hillhouse High continues, parents, students, and alumni stormed the school board to defend their principal and the reputation of their school.

The emotional discussion took place at the Board of Education’s regular meeting Monday night at its headquarters at 54 Meadow St. The meeting drew a crowd, rare in its size, including several aldermen and religious leaders.

Two dozen speakers stood up to support Principal Kermit Carolina and say that the district mistreated him by publicly announcing a probe into grade-changing allegations at his school. Those allegations first surfaced at an unusual emergency meeting of the Board of Education the Friday night before Christmas.

Melissa Bailey PhotoCarolina (pictured speaking to supporters) has denied he did anything wrong and called the investigation a politically motivated witch-hunt. The board hired Milford attorney Floyd Dugas to carry out the probe. When Dugas interviewed him last week, Carolina pointed to a new suspect—the Tenex computer system, which he said had a widespread glitch that was lowering kids’ grades.

The probe has not yet concluded nor reached any findings, said Ferdinand Risco, who served as the school board’s acting chair Monday night.

That didn’t stop supporters from standing up in Carolina’s defense—and at times pleading for the district not to fire their principal. 

Mike Jefferson, Carolina’s lawyer and a Hillhouse parent, drew applause with a pointed attack on Mayor John DeStefano and schools Superintendent Reggie Mayo for carrying out a “political lynching.”

“Quite frankly Mr. Mayor, I’m sick and tired of you running this city like a plantation,” he charged, pointing his finger at DeStefano. District staff are afraid to speak out lest they get “wooped” or have a foot cut off, Jefferson charged. “And Dr. Mayo is sitting here running it like your overseer.”

“You want to sit there with that smirk on your face,” he said to the mayor, “but I don’t believe for one second you care about the education of our children—black children in particular.” Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch his and others’ remarks.

Jefferson’s heated comments came after a chain of parents and students criticized the way the district handled the case.

Parent Dana Griffin, who sits on the Hillhouse PTO, questioned why this case warranted an “emergency meeting” on Friday evening before a holiday weekend. No such emergency meeting was called, for example, when the state Department of Children and Families investigated a report of a sexual assault on a class trip at Lincoln-Bassett School, he said. (The principal was suspended and later cleared.)

“Dr. Mayo, why didn’t you stop this?” Griffin said of the way the incident was handled. Even Carolina wasn’t told about the meeting; he learned of it from the New Haven Independent. Griffin, the first speaker, read from written remarks that would become a theme for the evening—that the district’s handling of the case has brought shame to the predominantly African-American school and by extension, to the African-American community.

“Many of us sent our kids to Hillhouse because of Kermit Carolina,” said Griffin. “Now we wonder—how do you get this reputation back?”

Hillhouse mom Barbara Vereen echoed Griffin’s outrage. “Think about the repercussions that it has on the African-American community,” she said.

Brenda Barnes-Jones (pictured), the new alderwoman in Fair Haven Heights and a Yale employee, suggested the district should have run an internal probe before airing the allegations in public. She was one of four aldermen who showed up Monday night to support Carolina, including aldermanic President Jorge Perez, Wooster Square Alderman Mike Smart and Hill Alderwoman Dolores Colon.

Several students called Carolina a “father figure” who supported their activities, including youth rallies outside of school. They raised concerns about the school’s reputation. They said students are being taunted that their grades have been “fixed,” not earned.

Gysel Montufar, a Hillhouse senior and member of a group called Youth Unleashed, raised another concern: “How is this issue affecting the students who are applying to colleges?” She was referring to Jefferson’s account, detailed in this story, that a computer glitch has altered many students’ transcripts.

Risco replied that the board can’t comment on the investigation because it is pending.

Meanwhile, Hillhouse senior Shaylah McQueen, the school’s valedictorian, gave an emphatic defense of her principal—and an account of how he has personally explained the case to students.

She said she’s never encountered a principal “so driven, inspired and determined to support, nurture and encourage his children—I mean his students,” she said. “I am devastated because of the fact that my school and principal’s reputation has been damaged and undermined. We Hillhouse students suffer so much because we are bombarded with criticisms and slick remarks.”

She recounted how Carolina came into her government classroom to personally fill in students about the case. She said he asked the teacher to leave, outlined what he could about the case, then took questions from the students.

Carolina told the class that he signed off on an order to change an error in a student’s transcript—because “it was best for the kids.”

In the back of the hearing room, Attorney Jefferson quickly clarified the comment. He said the grade McQueen was referring to had been changed by the faulty Tenex program. Then Carolina signed off on an order to have an administrator change the grade in the computer system to match the grade the teacher had given the student. Carolina does not have access to the Tenex database to change the actual grade, Jefferson said.

Jefferson said the “best for the kids” comment was a general statement about how everything Carolina does is student-centered.

Carolina later said that he personally went to four senior classes last Thursday to talk to students about the probe.

“I gave them the opportunity to ask me any questions they needed to ask about the investigation,” he said. He said he asked teachers to leave the classroom because “I have been directed by Dr. Mayo not to speak to any New Haven Public School employee about the investigation.”

“One thing that is very clear is we have a glitch in our computer system,” Carolina said. When a problem arises, such as with a student’s transcript, “I have to make a determination to fix the problem or not.”

“Everything I’ve done has been within the scope of my duties as principal,” he said.

He said the administrator who blew the whistle on him “took advantage of a problem and told only half the truth.”

“There were other motives at play,” Carolina said. “It’ll come out” when the investigation concludes.

While several supporters urged the district not to fire him, Carolina said he does not have reason to be concerned about his job.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, I’ll be cleared of any wrongdoing.”

After his supporters spoke, pastor Scott Marks left the room chanting “No justice? No peace!” while another voice pledged “we’ll be back!”

Asked for comment on the day’s proceedings, Superintendent Mayo (pictured) said only this: “Everybody is innocent—that’s what the presumptions are.”

School board member Alex Johnston said he hoped the crowd would harness the energy exhibited Monday into boosting academic achievement in the schools.

After the meeting, Mayor DeStefano echoed those remarks: “Everyone should put the same effort and energy into the kind of efforts” that improve the schools, he said. Asked to reply to the accusations that he rules by plantation politics and doesn’t care about black children, DeStefano pointed to his record.

“I’m pleased to let people look at spending over a billion dollars” in building new schools; at conducting “one of the nation’s most aggressive school reform efforts,” and a college scholarship program, New Haven Promise, provided to city kids who keep up good grades and behavior.

“I think those are self-evident” initiatives “that contradict the statements” Jefferson made.

Carolina resisted efforts made by officials to get school system personnel to publicly support the mayor’s campaign last years. Carolina said that’s why he’s being retaliated against now. DeStefano has repeatedly denied that allegation. He and Mayo said the school system would have been accused of covering up an important allegation if they hadn’t promptly launched an investigation into the grade-changing allegations, made by an administrator with whom Carolina has clashed at Hillhouse. Mayo also said he worried that school administrators would have learned of the allegations from outside sources if he hadn’t moved to hold a swift, emergency meeting to keep everyone informed.

Related stories:

New Suspect Named In Grade-Changing Probe
Jefferson Calls For “Conflict”-Free Investigator
He Was Where?
A Standoff In Grade Probe
Investigation Formally Revealed At “Emergency” School Board Meeting
Out Of Public View, Schools Rush “Emergency” Pre-Xmas Meeting On Grade-Altering Charges

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posted by: robn on January 10, 2012  9:51am

Theater for theater, tit for tat.
Now can we have a thorough investigation to find out what actually happened?

posted by: I'll let you tell it! on January 10, 2012  9:53am

It is necessary to have a buildings to educate it’s not a gift to our children it’s not like the system is’nt dumbing them down anyway. School buildings have nothing to do with being concerned with African american school children nor the community, good way of diverting the attention Mr. Mayor. No politician not even the beloved Obama can answer that question relating to having a genuine concern for the African american community.  So if the buildings are a gift , so is the education ? and taxes , lack of city employees living in new haven, I mean yale giving the community the “promise” of New Haven even though they profited from slavery. Every since we were included in society the same rhetoric from “leaders” (because being set free is not staying where you were enslaved).  Really good one king John the typical morally corrupt classic american politician.

posted by: emcee on January 10, 2012  10:02am

NHPS teachers can tell you that Tenex is an extremely outdated program. Most districts use Power School, and hopefully NHPS will be moving in the same direction.

The way the Board and Mayor handled the situation with that “emergency meeting” was typical DeStefano—and an insult to the integrity of Carolina and the Hillhouse community. It’s awful that Carolina didn’t know about the meeting until reading it in the NHI.

I applaud Jefferson’s remarks: “You want to sit there with that smirk on your face,” he said to the mayor, “but I don’t believe for one second you care about the education of our children—black children in particular.” Right on, Jefferson. DeStefano cares only about DeStefano—and rolls his eyes at the children of New Haven.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 10, 2012  10:14am

Was it appropriate for the principal to discuss an ongoing investigation with students during class time? Whether he used six minutes or sixty, should a teacher be required to suspend his lesson plan and leave his classroom so that Mr.Carolina could give his side of the story. Will the superintendent, the mayor, members of the Board, the investigating Board attorney, and Mrs, Shirley Joyner been given access to those same students to express their point of view? Of course not.
Hillhouse students need to focus on their academic studies. They surely do have serious concerns about what is going on at their school. But if there is going to be any discussion about this grade tampering scandal, it should be a balanced, unbiased discussion and it should not take place during instructional time. Students should not be a captive, involuntary audience for the principal to vent his frustrations this scandal and about the mayor and the superintendent.
Maybe the Dr. Mayo should direct the principal not to further discuss this issue with the students.

posted by: christine orr on January 10, 2012  10:24am

Get Get Get. Rid of .. Dr.Mayo he ... always will he is destefano partner let destefano step on mayo toes and watch mayo leave him alone.politcs in this world is very sad and our children kids teenager r hurt from it ...they r our next generation…...

posted by: Gary Holder-Winfield on January 10, 2012  10:32am

The people who showed up to support principal Carolina believe in him and his ability to lead the school forward. They ARE putting their ENERGY AND EFFORT into what they believe will improve their school - their principal and standing with him.

posted by: Methinks on January 10, 2012  10:45am

If Carolina hadn’t made such a fuss about this whole thing it never would have occurred to me that the probe into alleged grade changing had anything to do with him.  Bad things happen under good leadership and good leaders cooperate with investigations into possible wrongdoing.  If the investigation comes up with nothing, then all the better.  But it didn’t occur to me that he had done anything until he threw such a temper tantrum.

posted by: Really? on January 10, 2012  10:59am

<<...the district’s handling of the case has brought shame to the predominantly African-American school and by extension, to the African-American community.>>

This is what is bringing us shame? ...

<<School board member Alex Johnston said he hoped the crowd would harness the energy exhibited Monday into boosting academic achievement in the schools.>>

I could not have said it better Mr. Johnston. You will probably be labled a racist for saying this.

We are a confused lot.

posted by: streever on January 10, 2012  11:12am

What if your boss told the press he was investigating your department at work, called an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors of your company before Christmas Eve, and didn’t even notify or invite a prominent member of the Board known for his transparency and independence? (Alex Johnston)

This is what happened.

You think Carolina smells fishy?

The city knew they were going to do this investigation, and according to the NHI, Will Clark asked the communications people if they could work late so he could send out notice of the meeting after 5, when it would be likely to be ignored or missed.

When they sent notice, they invited the BoE to the meeting, but not Johnston—a man known for his transparency and independence of the Mayor.

They didn’t even tell Carolina, the Principal in charge of the school, but let him read an article about it in the NHI to find out.

I’m sorry, but if you will maintain that all of that doesn’t cause you to shake your head, I’d love to know what your given name is instead of your alias.

[Editor’s Note: The person Will Clark contacted was City Clerk Sally Brown, not the communications people. An email message had gone out to board members about the meeting; Johnston hadn’t know about the meeting when contacted the next day by the Independent, he said, because he was traveling en route to Chicago at the time the email message went out.]

posted by: fearless on January 10, 2012  11:15am

Nothing has changed in New Haven…makes no difference how much money King John spends on the school buildings….in our town, its always about voting for King John, or suffering the consequences

In this case, the entire Hillhouse community has been damaged by King John..including recent graduates…all because Carolina wont endorse or participate in King John’s campaign


posted by: Wake up on January 10, 2012  11:20am

WAKE UP!!! This is not about grade changing, Can’t you people see that! Everybody knows that the Tenex system is responsible for any discrepancies.  This is political payback, and normal behavior for John DeStefano.  You’re all blind if you don’t see that, it’s been going on since 1994.  Let me explain how this works: 1) You doind something to piss off the mayor (which could be just about anything) 2)The mayor retaliates by taking your job, because he has the power to do that but he needs cause. 3) The mayor finds one of his minions to do the dirty work for him so he has deniability. 4) The chosen minion persuades the mayor to launch a full tilt investigation into a frivolous issue 5) The subject of the retaliation becomes the target of embarrassing allegations and a very public investigation 6)Usually, the subject of the investigation resigns or retires instead of enduring the stress and aggravation of a DeStefano onslaught. 7) Mayor declares victory and laughs in the face of the powerless. DeStefano has been doing this for years, and now everyone acts surprised.  Look around the city and you’ll find numerous employees who have been subject to this treatment.  The note was a declaration to Carolina that something like this was coming, believe me.  You’re all blind if you don’t believe me.  Jefferson, oddly enough, is the only one that makes sense right now.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 10, 2012  11:28am

posted by: Gary Holder-Winfield on January 10, 2012 9:32am
The people who showed up to support principal Carolina believe in him and his ability to lead the school forward. They ARE putting their ENERGY AND EFFORT into what they believe will improve their school - their principal and standing with him.

Do you and other politicians support principal Carolina.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 10, 2012  11:36am

Like A Plantation.How true.In fact Principal Kermit Carolina wins this case He will be sing this.

Happy As A Runaway Slave.


posted by: Gary Holder-Winfield on January 10, 2012  11:49am

Come on 3/5ths. You and I just had this discussion on Facebook.  You know the answer so why don’t you just print it.

I will play the game though. I have said (repeatedly) that I do not know what happened there but that from what I know Kermit is a good guy.  I have also said that it seems strange how this went down and if I went purely by what I feel I would be with Carolina but that I am smart enough to let it play out (not because I am unwilling to say anything but because I don’t know enough to know what to say).

If it turns out Carolina is correct then all the scorn and derision that those attacking him are receiving they rightly deserve.

Now having said that the other issue here is that so many people think the mayor would do what he is accused of.  That is indicative of a larger problem in the perception of his leadership ability and style(and it isn’t just among the Kerekes loyalists). That is a big problem.

posted by: William F. Anderson on January 10, 2012  12:11pm

There is an old saying that you cannot unscramble eggs. What a scrambled mess we have here at Hillhouse.
Mr. Carolina could have quietly cooperated with the Board’s investigation without all of his drama and grandstanding. Instead he and his lawyer have charged the mayor with a racist and politically motivated conspiracy to oust him, accused the respected and dedicated Black superintendent of being an “overseer” on the mayor’s “plantation,” a pawn, a dupe, a puppet controlled by the mayor without judgment or will of his own, and have challenged the integrity and character of a decent, hard-working Hillhouse assistant principal, Mrs. Shirley Joyner. Carolina and Jefferson have attempted to stir up and propagandize the Hillhouse students and the Black community to rally behind them, thereby creating strife and division in the community. There should be unity in the community to find the truth.
If all this whirlwind of confusion and distraction was caused by a computer error and no single human being is found to be at fault as a result of this investigation, who will be the miracle worker to get all of these people to ever work together again?
It all makes me very sad.

posted by: dee on January 10, 2012  12:30pm

To “Methinks”

... how politics in this city is run—you ALWAYS have to look for the ulterior motive. In this case the the obvious conclusion is that target of this investigation is Carolina, and that if he HADN’T spoken up, the first we’d hear of it in this city was the announcement that he’d been fired. Now it’s potentially going to be too messy for the Mayor to exact his revenge. He may do it anyway—...—but hopefully he’ll pay a price if he does.

posted by: DavidK on January 10, 2012  1:05pm

One thing that is very clear is we have a glitch in our computer system,” Carolina said. When a problem arises, such as with a student’s transcript, “I have to make a determination to fix the problem or not.”

So, we have a faulty Tenex computer system. A system that is used in all New Haven schools for the last 10 years. I now know why the unions and teachers have been fighting performance evaluations. All the grades and scores are incorrect. We need wise men to override the system. It makes one want to give up and go back to home schooling.

posted by: Curious on January 10, 2012  1:43pm

Maybe Carolina can be the superintendent of schools under our next Mayor in 2014.

posted by: New Haven Resident on January 10, 2012  1:57pm

The City will have a huge lawsuit on their hands!

posted by: Edgehood on January 10, 2012  2:06pm

None of you commenters that whine ‘King Johnny’ seem to understand what a bad mayor is.
Look up Kurt Schmoke or Marion Berry or Ray Nagin or Buddy Cianci…
There are 10x more lousy mayors than good ones and DeStefano is one of the best.

Running a city is an skill that is not easy to come by…
and, like operating heavy equipment, learning on the job can be disasterous for many people.

I was around New Haven since before DeStefano’s first term and I can tell that New Haven
used to look like cr*p before he came in…
...how impossibly screwed-up many of the streets were…
...how whole neighborhoods used to be permanently overlooked by the Public Works department…
...how city housing was just gross…
...how downtown used to be a hot, smelly mess…
...how hookers and drugs were centered on Chapel and Howe…
...how the city used to turn into a ghost town every Summer…
...how most of the old neighborhood schools had bricks falling out and schoolyards were mostly hard-packed dirt and weeds.

If political candidates submited resumes, DeStafano’s would be a knockout…
Chairmen of the Conference of Mayors, the federal and state funding brought into the city, grand list growth, home ownership…
Quit calling names and get a grip on whats good…...

posted by: Daniel Boardman on January 10, 2012  2:08pm

It appears the Attorney brought a dog and pony show to a regular meeting of the BOE, then used his bully pulpit to embarrass himself completely.
Likening anything to a “lynching”, followed by the portrayal of New Haven as a “plantation” while stating that Dr Mayo is an “overseer”?
Attorney Jefferson…. should publicly apologize to Dr Mayo.
If Attorney Jefferson does not know that he repeatedly stepped over the boundaries of common sense and good judgement, he does not deserve the right to accuse others of the same.

posted by: robn on January 10, 2012  2:11pm

From what I’ve read, there is no glitch in the computer system; teachers sometimes fail to enter the correct amount of digits and the records get stored incorrectly. If this is the case, and the records show no clear pattern of grade changing related to Principal Carolina (for instance, an obvious pattern would be one related to the athletic program) then he won’t have a problem. So lets get on with a holistic analysis of the records and see whether or not there is a pattern.

posted by: brutus2011 on January 10, 2012  2:12pm

Sorry folks, but I have to agree with Attorney Jefferson.

NHPS IS run like a plantation…

Question is, why do we keep, directly or indirectly, electing these people?

We (all of us) need to realize the consequences of our vote, or for many of us, our non-vote.

And, we need to realize that the solution our public schools problem is not educational, but political—municipal and organizational.

posted by: westville man on January 10, 2012  2:32pm

@ William Anderson & Boardman

The only person whose reputation is at stake here is Carolina’s. The emergency meeting was an effort at an “end around” to start the process of denigrating and besmirching Principal Carolina’s honesty and integrity.

If someone tried to ruin my reputation in that way, I would come out swinging too, because as you say- the eggs are already scrambled.

And I would want Attorney Jefferson taking those swings for me because he understands what’s really at stake here and how corrupt power works- he sees it every day in the judicial system.

posted by: Nadia on January 10, 2012  2:55pm

Why no one wanted to answer the quetions that were asked by students and cocern parents? They said that they could not answer because it was about an ongoing investigation. Okay. So why then did they have to put Mr.Carolina and our school on spot like that? They should have waited until they are done with the “investigation.” I am very unhappy with how the situation was handled.When people see that you are from Hillhouse now , they will have quetions about you grade.So what do we do about the students applying to colleges now? And if African Americans communities do not go out and vote for a new mayor next time then the Mayor will remain and he will do whatever he wants.

posted by: My Hood on January 10, 2012  4:59pm

The old line of try to help somebody out and they will screw you every time definitely applies here. A few years ago, Dr. Mayo decides to take a chance and name a popular coach with no administrative experience Principal of Hillhouse, my school(Class of 74) and Mr. Carolina responds by calling himself a $100,000 slave? If Mr. Carolina had stopped and thought for a minute, he would have realized that by calling for a public meeting and keeping everything above board, Dr. Mayo was actually
protecting him. instead he publicly insults his boss, joins forces with a lawyer with an obvious bias, and airs his laundry in a newspaper that loves to make black people look like fools. If this is the example of leadership Mr. Carolina wants his students to follow, maybe Dr.Mayo did make a mistake, giving him an opportunity.

posted by: Peter Simon on January 10, 2012  5:06pm

Can Jefferson make any more ridiculous, offensive comments, plantation? and overseer?  Hopefully, Carolina realizes the damage Jefferson creates everytime he opens his mouth and tells him to stop the inciting comments.  Its a good thing that Caroline seems level headed and above the hysteria that Jefferson creates.

posted by: Fountain Street Parent on January 10, 2012  6:23pm

@ Edgehood:

Are you serious? I would have to say that incompetence, lying, and running a city into the ground is not a skill, it’s a learned behavior that he wants his administration to follow.  Sorry, but a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

As for the comments made by Mr. Jefferson, I totally agree.  He simply called a spade a spade.  Most New Haven residents echo Mr. Jefferson’s sentiments towards Destafano and Mayo.  I know those are close to my choice of words to refer to Destafano and Mayo.

Have any commenter ever seen the movie “The Water is Wide”? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0444706/plotsummary The movie is based on a true story, which retells a teacher’s personal account about teaching poor Black children down south in 1969.  While watching it, one could clearly recognize Destafano and Mayo.

What is even more disturbing is how Destafano keeps pushing his aggressive school reform agenda.  Really????  NHPS District has consistently made the “In Need of Improvement” list for the past 8 years.  How long has Mayo been superintendent?  I have a great idea, let teachers teach the whole child’s intellect instead of teaching limited skills to pass the CMT test.  Reform is a word used to make it appear that education is being revamped.  Hmmm…..1969 – present, nothing has or will be reformed as long as Destafano’s administration and tactics remains the same.

posted by: Sha on January 10, 2012  7:49pm

I don’t think this altercation benefits any of us in anyway, therefore this conflict is irrelevant. The only good ideal benefit we’ll get out from this is to find out if grades are really being altered. Other than that it seems like a personal issue to me that doesn’t concern students.

posted by: LOL on January 10, 2012  8:16pm

It’s laughable and sickening to hear the mayor pat himself on the back for “building” new schools and spending “millions” on the district’s school system.  Seriously, how long has he been mayor??!!

And I’d love to take a look at EXACTLY where the millions were allocated ...

... To the countless failed reading and math programs, which seem to change every few years (as well as the dough required to train teachers and principals in the new programs)??!!

... Or to the endless array of department supervisors and assistant superintendents who have enjoyed a workplace OUTSIDE OF ANY CITY SCHOOL??!!

Teachers (outside of the city’s precious Hooker, Edgewood and Hale schools) can attest that there isn’t nearly enough staff or supplies.

Now the city wants to give teachers passcodes to use school copy machines so the district can monitor the number of copies made by each teacher.

Laughable considering:

1. The incredulous load of BS paperwork the district requires of teachers (copies of student work for portfolios, weekly data forms/agendas, assessments, differentiated work for students, etc.).

2.  Many teachers at many schools in this district do not receive the amount of copy paper commensurate with all the paperwork the district demands of teachers.  Teachers are buying their own copy paper—and, in many cases, having to make and pay for their own copies outside of school b/c of old, broken equipment.

My rebuttal to the district?


How ‘bout that??!!

Betcha that would wipe the smirk off the mayor’s face.

Maybe then he’d put more energy into solving the real problems afflicting our city’s schools and less into polishing his public image.

posted by: first observer on January 10, 2012  8:28pm

To see attorney Jefferson use his plantation and overseer analogy is as appalling as it was to read an anti-Carolina commenter in one of these columns last week repeatedly and deliberately use the term overseer to describe him.

In response, I was very hard on that commenter last week, and I want to be equally hard on Jefferson.  His comments were totally inappropriate.  I agree that this city is run in a deplorable manner, but to start using terms evoking black slavery—by either side—is going off the deep end.  It is completely unhelpful to *anyone’s* cause.

I begin to wonder if Mr. Carolina has chosen the correct lawyer to represent him in this deplorable mess.

posted by: readingbothstories on January 10, 2012  8:50pm

check out Melissa Bailey’s story about graduation rates (Harries’ presentation):

“James Hillhouse High School led the way in growth, climbing from 43.9 to 53.5 percent under Principal Kermit Carolina’s first term. Wilbur Cross High School graduated 60.8 percent of students, up from 59.8 percent, under Principal Peggy Moore’s first year, according to the data.

Those two schools, the city’s largest, drove most of the growth in the citywide graduation rate, noted data analyst Katya Levitan-Reiner.”

posted by: Franklin on January 10, 2012  9:33pm

Let the race-baiting continue, as the schools get worse. It’s no skin off my nose.

posted by: Noteworthy on January 10, 2012  9:36pm

I happen to agree with Jefferson. If DeStefano really cared, he wouldn’t have squandered the future of an entire generation of children while he ran for governor, traveled the world and played with his friends in the various conferences and clubs for which taxpayers pay his dues. Meanwhile at home, he was running a network of dropout factories.

Equally bad however, is DeStefano’s current defense - look at a billion dollars worth of schools, Promise and Reform Lite as if these issues should excuse his current pattern of bad behavior and even worse management skills.

Making matters worse though are parrot like nuggets of wisdom from ex-ConnCan E.D. and current school board member Alex Johnston. You know, for months and months Johnston has sat on this board and basically done nothing of significant value. He’s rubberstamped the budgets; approved of directly or indirectly non-transparent board actions and now presumes to lecture parents and others about supporting education reform.

As far as I’m concerned, Mayo and the entire NH BOE should resign not only over this disgraceful handling of what sure appears to be a political lynching, but for their many failures overall. One way or the other, this will end badly for taxpayers. I’ve had enough of multi-million settlements because we don’t have adults in the room who have the experience, the wisdom and the common sense and decency to handle these issues professionally.

posted by: Kids First on January 10, 2012  11:17pm

If the story had come out that New Haven board of education was “quietly” investigating a grade changing scandal at Hillhouse or at a New Haven high school,  the bloggers here would be crying “cover-up” by the Mayor and Superintendent.

Instead, the board goes public with the investigation (at an ill-timed meeting) but hoping to avoid a holiday rumor-mill spinning out of control and the bloggers and the principal himself are calling it a lynching. If what the principal and his lawyer are reporting publicly about the investigation is true, then Carolina is innocent and the investigation will prove that.  The principal has the right to defend himself and it’s great to see the parents and students of Hillhouse backing him. 

But he and his supporters have gone way out of control in name-calling the Board, Superintendent and Mayor. Take a deep breath, my brother and focus on the good work you are doing for your students.  Stop the grandstanding and the name-calling and put your Kids FIRST. At the end of the day, it is *the* principal who leads the building and sets the tone for excellence, and builds up confidence among the staff,parents and students. NO ONE ELSE can do that. Not the community, not the lawyers, not the mayor, nor the superintendent.

It sounds like parents and students at Hillhouse are shaken to core by all of this. Now, more than ever the principal has to be the one to lead through the storm with a strong focus on students’ well being and academic excellence and on building parents confidence. Avoid the temptations of the ego.

posted by: jon on January 11, 2012  12:48am

the family is broken,and todays kids dont want to learn,and the staffs of schools are so burdened and tired of working with troubled fatherless parents,they just dont care anymore.

  Welcome to the new third world,and the end of america.There is no hope-
  At this point its all pomp and circumstance,the video was heart felt,but we all know deep down nothing is going to change,and it is only going to get worse.

  There is no hope,we might as well take any money that would go into a school system and throw it down a well-

posted by: Charter revision on January 11, 2012  5:21am

Te vast majority of relevant and salient points have already been made by bloggers, principal Carolina, attorney Jefferson and the speakers at the board meeting, so I will refrain from rehashing their extremely insightful, accurate and powerful points.  I would, however, like to make several additional factually correct observations for the readers to think about:

1) Principal Carolina was not inexperienced prior to becoming the principal.  Like all other administrators, principal Carolina went to college and became certified to serve in the capacity of.both teacher and administrator.  He actually started by working just part-time in an alternative school, and pulling himself up by his boot straps, if you will, to complete his masters degree and his sixth year.  He then served as a social studies teacher, an assistant principal at James Hillhouse, and then as principal.  While those without much sense may think he was “just a basketball coach”’ others that know him can attest to his sharp intellect, knowledge or relevant research, ability to recognize great
instruction, and skillful leadership.

2) I have first hand knowledge of the deeply political nature of New Haven Public Schools because I worked there as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.  For example, during principals meetings, Central Office staff… would routinely “remind” principals and other administrators that they had not made their contributions to the Mayor’s campaign, and had to do so by the end of the day.  They would routinely go to schools and pick up the checks themselves. 

3) Mayo ... clearly does not serve as the spokesperson for the district.  At very event and announcement of new initiatives, it is the Mayor who takes the lead.  Promise?  The Mayor announces.  New School?  The mayor break ground?  School, reform?  The Mayor’s office organizes the press conference.  Hiring new administrators?  Check with the Mayor for approval?  Need a new assistant superintendent? Hire an unqualified and uncertified person out of New York who taught one year in a small, elite private school in classroom with 9 students.  Garth Harries was hired as a precondition to getting Promise money because he is a beneficiary of the good graces of Charter school movement, supported by Yale president Levine.  No Garth Harries, no Yale money for the Promise program.

4) when one considers the hyper politicized nature of the New Haven Public School System, it is not difficult to connect the dots in this matter concerning Principal Carolina.  As attorney Jefferson passionately and accurately articulates,employees are fearful of speaking out because they know there will be repercussions for doing so.  As a result, there is an environment of compliance that has been misinterpreted as collaboration. It is not collaboration when you do what you do because you are afraid - that is coercion.  It is my sincerest hope that three significant things will result from this:  a) principal Carolina and the Hillhouse school community will get their reputations re-established. b) Mayo will read the writing on the wall and ask for a buy out of his contract and c) other school administrators will come to the realization that a wishbone is not a substitute for a backbone and begin to stand up to the Mayor and ...Mayo.

posted by: Just Wondering on January 11, 2012  9:02am

Has Johnston ever taught in a classroom?  I don’t think so (and correct me if I am wrong) but it amazes me that someone who has not experienced the school/classroom environment firsthand has so much to say about school reform or the right to serve on the BOE making decisions about our schools!

posted by: LOL on January 11, 2012  9:43am

@Kids First—So we are supposed to believe that NHPS discovered the changed grades and that a meeting was IMMEDIATELY SCHEDULED, and that the ONLY DAY that meeting could be held was the night before Saturday’s Christmas Eve, when many are focused on family and the holidays and NOT thinking about NHPS?

How convenient.

That’s almost as laughable as the defense you presented for the Board calling the meeting when it did to prevent rumors from spreading.  Let’s see: the day after the meeting was Christmas Eve, the next Christmas Day, the next an official holiday.  I’m sure nobody would’ve complained of the meeting were held when most other businesses, including city gov’t, returned to work on Tuesday the 27th.

NHPS and the mayor definitely had an agenda in calling that meeting for the 23rd—to minimize publicity.  It’s the same reason newspapers don’t run big news, investigative pieces or feature stories in Saturday editions—because readership on that day is down because people are preoccupied with their own lives.

posted by: streever on January 11, 2012  10:10am

Just Wondering
I’m not sure why first hand teaching experience is a requirement to be on the Board of Education?

What do you think Alex can’t bring to the board because of that?

Alex is extremely knowledgeable in many aspects of education, and has more experience working on closing the achievement gap than many—if not most—people in this city.

I think he is uniquely qualified to serve the role he plays on the Board.

Remember, everyone on the Board has a vote—so each individual doesn’t have to be a carbon copy clone of the others. They all have a role they fill, a perspective they bring, and hopefully a thorough knowledge of the area they specialize in.

posted by: brothertruth on January 11, 2012  11:00am

In the back of the hearing room, Attorney Jefferson quickly clarified the comment. He said the grade McQueen was referring to had been changed by the faulty Tenex program. Then Carolina signed off on an order to have an administrator change the grade in the computer system to match the grade the teacher had given the student. Carolina does not have access to the Tenex database to change the actual grade, Jefferson said.
Jefferson said the “best for the kids” comment was a general statement about how everything Carolina does is student-centered.

My Comment on the above statement:

Jefferson has stopped Carolina from talking because he is afraid that this loose cannon might slip up on the truth. (Remember how Jefferson had to frequently go to the podium during the first BOE meeting to make sure Carolina did not continue to say the wrong thing) Read Shalah McQueen’s full account of what Carolina said to her class. Is it “best for the kids” to give them grades that they did not earn? After Shalah spoke, Jefferson tried to clear up her comments – too late Mr. Jefferson those “eggs have already been scrambled”. Why use our children in this way? If Carolina was a true educator, he would not use the kids in this way and he certainly would not interrupt their classroom activities to talk about an investigation. Will the teachers be held accountable for the lessons they were not able to teach because their principal sent them out of the room while he brainwashed their students into supporting his wrong doings? THINK ABOUT IT. If Carolina is so innocent, why is he grandstanding? Why is he talking to teachers before the investigator interviews them? Why has he accused the Mayor, the investigating attorney, Tenex and just recently the superintendent? Why place signs and petitions around the school for support. Let the facts speaks. Maybe Carolina and Jefferson feel that if they incite the community by getting them in an uproar, pack the Board Room with uninformed parents and community people and be boisterous that the facts of his wrongdoing will disappear. THINK ABOUT IT. What are Carolina and Jefferson teaching our children by exposing them to their very deliberate antics of trying to discredit the mayor to get the attention off the real issue of grade tampering? THINK ABOUT IT.

posted by: Henry "Box" Brown on January 11, 2012  12:28pm

From Henry “Box” Brown, former slave
The prestigious law firm of Jefferson, Jefferson, and Jefferson located in a swank office on Dixwell Avenue in New Haven (next to the former Kramer’s an organization that made some of the finest donuts in this general area) has succeeded in the first move of their strategy to divert attention away from the current allegations that Kermit Carolina, the second year principal of Hillhouse High School has changed students’ grades (specifically athletes). Let us review the evidence thus far and see if we can bring people who know little or nothing about this case back to some semblance of normalcy:
The Independent checked with the Chief Clerk’s office and discovered that the NHBOE was having an emergency meeting about an unnamed school where someone was accused of grade tampering. The superintendent called a meeting to discuss the unnamed school which is consistent with standard operating procedure in any organization—timely communication with people up the chain of command when there is a serious problem within the organization. No school was named and no individuals were named.
Carolina received a call from the media even though the media only knew of an unnamed school with no names provided. Carolina rushed to judgment and assumed that the school was Hillhouse and that he was the someone. He then hastily called his friend, attorney, and main man to go down to the meeting to defend his “school” and his “students.” He decided that this was an attack coordinated by the mayor and the mayor’s neighbor to punish him for failing to take a picture with him.
Carolina berated the mayor on local news and took advantage of the contentious election between the Mayor and his opposition. He called the mayor arrogant and referred to him as a bully. During this tirade Jefferson repeatedly whispered in his ear to provide him with the appropriate words. Go to the tape for confirmation if you do not believe me. He has used classic tactics to cover wrongdoing not unlike those used by such notables as Karl Rove, Clarence Thomas, and C. Vernon Mason.
Tactic 1: crash the meeting, call a press conference, and create a diversion by blaming someone other than yourself if you have a poor defense. Undermine the credibility of your accuser.
Tactic 2: inflame the community by playing the race card and using verbiage from the Clarence Thomas Handbook on Getting White Folks of My Back When I Am Actually Guilty. Use the following words as often as possible:
Hope that the people you are inciting do not know or remember that a large number of your family members are receiving good pay and medical benefits on the plantation you are criticizing. You, wife, mother, Jefferson’s wife, cousins, and family from as far away as South Carolina in the work program this past summer. Hope that they do not start to calculate the family salary especially in the area of people from your family without degrees that work in the system or people who come up North to work for Cousin Kermit over the summer. Check city payroll records for confirmation.
Tactic 3; cast yourself as the victim and cast your accuser as the villain. Since you cannot wear a cape or costume cast yourself as a heroic rescuer who is saving the students from all the people who have failed them in the past. If you have to insult or degrade all the people who helped you get to your position; do it! Undermine the credibility of the organization and challenge the fairness of the investigation. Ask for an apology. Blame computer glitches.
Tactic 4: Round up as many people as possible who have an axe to grind against the mayor, Dr. Mayo, and any others associated with the school district. Storm the next board meeting. Meet with the kids at Hillhouse to get them on your side and bring as many as possible to the board meeting. Hope that people from your accuser’s group show up so you can have a Jerry Springer moment and gain more public support.
Tactic 5: When you start to put your foot in your mouth, defer comments to your brilliant and articulate lawyer (he is actually dull and acerbic but you guys go a long way back). Let your lawyer take this over and begin to systematically burn every bridge that you ever crossed over. Consult with your other little friend, and I do mean little, when things are not playing according to script.
Tactic 6: See tactics 1 through 5
By now you have tried as much as possible to cover your tracks and you have widened the circle of people who might be subpoenaed in an investigation if this ends up in court. If they lie, they will be committing perjury. Some of the people you have called on are employees on the same “plantation” and will likely tell the truth to protect their jobs and pensions. Since your brilliant Attorney has slandered Mrs. Joyner in the paper, he might be subject to a libel and slander suit. I am sure that they are looking into that possibility. Your reputation and credibility with Dr. Mayo should be ruined by now and no one above your level can ever trust you unless they are cut from the same cloth as you.
By the way, where are the rope burns from your lynching? Since when did slaves own their homes, drive luxury cars, and wear designer suits? What did the master do when slaves challenged and confronted them? If you really were a slave you would have been drawn and quartered before the next board meeting. Have you no pride to associate this nonsense with millions of people who never had the chance to the freedom and liberty that you and Jefferson enjoy?
It looks like both you and Jefferson flunked metaphors in your classes. You should have taken the classes at Riverside and earned A +s.

[Editor: Carolina did not say the unnamed school was Hillhouse. The Independent subsequently learned that and contacted Carolina again.]

posted by: Henry "Box" Brown on January 11, 2012  1:35pm

Could the Independent editor please supply a timeline for the public relative to the back and forth communication about the board meeting?
Did you guys call all the high school principals and were you led to Carolina through a process of elimination?
Why are you not interested in the staff and student fights at Hillhouse which are part of a pattern of the current leadership. By the way the increase in graduation rates should be credited to Dr. Garris since he got those kids through the first two years which are the hardest. Dr. Mayo, Mayor DeStefano, and Mrs. Joyner should get some credit also. Mayo’s office wrote the grant that Carolina is using for the small learning communities and Mayo gave Carolina carte blanche with respect to hiring and reorganization.

posted by: Tenex on January 11, 2012  1:49pm

From: Tenex
To: Kermit Carolina
Re: Grade changes
What up Kerm?
I just received word from my cousins Xerox, Clorox, and Ex Lax that you are accusing me of changing your student’s grades. If I got the right message, most of them are ballers. They even said that your boy Mike J. and…are backing up your accusations. We in the X family do not like to be falsely accused so I am going to set the record straight.
I did not change anything and like most slaves only do what I am told. There is no way that I can change grades at your school and not change them throughout the system. I cannot override the algorithms that were used to create me. Bear in mind that I am not talking about the hip rhythms that you blast at the beginning and end of school at Hillhouse. I’m talking algorithms dear brother. I am not as upset about it as the rest of the fellas are because a computer forensics expert can get to the bottom of it in due time. Xerox is #@#$ ed because he said that you copied some stuff that did not set well with him. ...

posted by: solsbury on January 11, 2012  1:59pm

I am the first one to point at the underlying discrimination in much of our school system. This case is not one. If anything, the African-American community has been duped into thinking that fighting against the mayor is in their best interest. When you attack the most respected African American educator in the country (Mayo), you are not thinking clearly. This will just lead to MORE paternalism, MORE outside control, and anti-union, pro-charter, non educators running things… it’s embarrassing

posted by: brothertruth on January 11, 2012  2:03pm

posted by: readingbothstories on January 10, 2012 7:50pm
check out Melissa Bailey’s story about graduation rates (Harries’ presentation):
“James Hillhouse High School led the way in growth, climbing from 43.9 to 53.5 percent under Principal Kermit Carolina’s first term. Wilbur Cross High School graduated 60.8 percent of students, up from 59.8 percent, under Principal Peggy Moore’s first year, according to the data.
Those two schools, the city’s largest, drove most of the growth in the citywide graduation rate, noted data analyst Katya Levitan-Reiner.”

When looking at what was presented in this story, think about this: Did the graduation rate increase because Carolina graduated students that were not performing well enough to graduate? THINK ABOUT IT. Also check to see how many of those students actually went to Riverside (the place he sends his athletics who are falling) and graduated with a Hillhouse diploma and became part of his reported statistics. These parents who have been coerced to come out to grand stand for Carolina should open their eyes to the fact that he will do anything to make himself look as if he has made an impact on Hillhouse. Parents ask yourself how many of your children has Carolina sent off to college using inflated grades just so they could play basketball and they are now back on the streets of New Haven because they really were not ready for college. What has been reported is just the tip of the iceberg. Someone should go back and look at the young men records that he coached when he was a teacher at Riverside and those he sent to Riverside. Why would you want your child to be given grades that he/she did not earn? Some of those young men were great athletes but failed out of college because they were not academically prepared and unfortunately came back to New Haven with nothing but broken dreams and died on the streets. Is that the mayor’s fault? If Carolina were the man you think you are supporting, he would really think “Kids First” not “Basketball or Football First” THINK ABOUT IT!!!!

posted by: westville man on January 11, 2012  2:27pm

@ “Box” Brown.

... NHI had to correct one extremely important fact that the anti-Carolina/Jefferson crowd refuse to admit:  BOE, Mayo, Joyner, or JD LEAKED the name of the school to the press before the meeting. And the powers that be STILL didnt inform Carolina. He got confirmation after several calls to Mayo later that day.

Making fun of Jefferson’s firm (incorrect name), it’s location and description in the very first paragraph confirmed for me your post would be full of useless mudslinging, w little real analysis or facts.
It amazes me how many times my posts get filtered (like this one, probably) and junk like yours get thru NHI so-called editing.

posted by: My Hood on January 11, 2012  3:41pm

reading the editors note, it sounds like the NHI may have instigated the whole affair by contacting Carolina several times. Way to go, NHI ,tear down the community for a story. I hope
Mr. Carolina can overcome the damage to his career, or is Ms. bailey trying to go 2 for 2 in getting people fired?

[Editor’s Note: Thanks for the comment. We do believe that contacting people at the center of a story—such as breaking news about an alleged grade-altering incident and an emergency school board meeting—is “reporting,” not “tearing down the community.” Not contacting people at the center of a story, including people being accused of misconduct, would perhaps fall under the category of trying to “tear down the community,” I think.]

posted by: LOL on January 11, 2012  4:22pm

posted by: solsbury on January 11, 2012 12:59pm
...When you attack the most respected African American educator in the country (Mayo),


You’re being sarcastic, I hope.

posted by: GRADES MATTER!!! on January 11, 2012  4:45pm

I come from a background of handling college recruitment and placement matters for top tier private colleges, and I must say that this issue has done great damage to the NHPS and its college-bound students. Without commenting on guilt or innocence of the administrators involved, it is clear that little credibility can be placed in the grades reported on student transcripts. Either grades have been manipulated, or the system of reporting and archiving grades is faulty and unreliable. In either case, it makes it near impossible for any college placement official to rely on a NHPS student grade transcript when evaluating that student for admission or scholarship qualification. In its place, it is now necessary to give undue weight to standardized student assessments when evaluating those students. And unfortunately, students from urban school districts like NHPS historically do worse on those standardized measures than students from suburban and predominantly white school districts. Already, there has been a historic view among some placement officials that an “A” from NHPS is valued only slightly higher than a “B” from some of the competing suburban schools.

If, in fact the TENEX system is the culprit, then grades of all students system-wide will be impacted. It is not a problem limited to Hillhouse. And nothing short of a system-wide fix will be of any value to college placement professionals.

It would be nice to live in a world where giving competitive grades to students is no longer needed. (Some districts are looking at adoption of “No Grades” policies). However, if you do not use grades, you will need to use some functionally equivalent value to substitute for grades when the task at hand is evaluating the relative strengths and weaknesses of competing candidates for college admission or scholarship awards. For better or for worse, the grade-changing scandal at HH may move the NHPS to rethink its policy of whether you even need student grades at all. If grades are meaningless or of little integrity, why not do away with them completely.

posted by: My Hood on January 11, 2012  4:57pm


The BOE meeting was an attempt to discuss the merits of the accusations before the media(NHI) could spin it in your never ending quest to discredit anyone associated with the BOE. By the way, nice soft spin on the Amistad story. I’m surprised you didn’t blame Dr. Mayo for that too.  Or is it too soon to speak?

posted by: Kids First on January 11, 2012  6:22pm

I really don’t care what cynics “believe.”  And I am unimpressed with the low blows from folks who inexorably pine in the weeds, sleuthing about the motivation of the board of ed, the mayor and the superintendent.

What I care about is the emotional and academic well being of students, the confidence of parents and the innocence of those involved in this grade tampering mess.  It sounds like this mess would have occurred with or without the ill-timed board meeting.

The school community needs to be uplifted from the effects of this grade fixing accusation and it’s the principal’s job to focus on that! This community desperately needs Hillhouse students and its leaders to be successful! That’s what New Haven should be focusing on accomplishing!

posted by: Henry 'Box" Brown on January 11, 2012  7:52pm

@westvilleman Brother West,

You are right about the sarcasm directed at Jefferson at the beginning of my statements. It diminished the impact of the text that followed in your eyes and I should not have stooped to his level. Although I was technically correct it was not kind despite the extreme tactics that Jefferson himself has employed in these matters. However, it pales in comparison to the vitriolic statements Jefferson has made over the past several days about DeStefano, Mayo, and the statements about the assistant principal. But two wrongs do not make a right. Yet, this is a small matter when you see him playing the race card when it was originally a matter concerning allegations of grade changes. If you are an honorable man you will evaluate the rest of the text and determine if facts back up the statements.

I believe that you are and want the truth to come out. Our community has been at the forefront of most of the issues around tolerance and sensitivity to all people. We do not need to have self-serving people creating issues because we have enough and then some. Either some grade hanky-panky was going on at Hillhouse or it was not. It also looks like there are some systemic problems with a lot of issues that need fixing, but a conspiracy hatched by the Mayor and his neighbor is far fetched and I am sure that you are familiar with Shakespeare’s quote regarding those who protest too much.
How do you feel about Jefferson and Kermit turning out a segment (not the entire AA community) for this? Where are these folks before the problem? Sadly, a number of them have received direct help from Mayo and DeStefano. This includes Carolina and Jefferson.

posted by: brutus2011 on January 11, 2012  8:34pm

I agree that BOE member Alex Johnston is probably good for New Haven.

Although it seems as though he favors privatization as the means to check wasteful municipal government bureaucracies, he strikes me as thoughtful and intelligent.

I do not favor privatization but would like to see teachers properly utilized to replace wasteful municipal government bureaucracies.

I believe that the way to have a better, and more fiscally sustainable, public school district in our city is to put money into the classrooms and eliminate the layers of management above the classroom.

I propose the elimination of the entire NHPS executive suite, building principals, AND all consultants.

I propose the elimination of all executive pension funds and would require that each individual establish and contribute to their own retirement.

The savings would be staggering.

I propose that each classroom have at least 2 qualified adults (eg., teacher + paraprofessional or 2 paras per class with a master teacher overseeing multiple classrooms).

I propose that each classroom be adequately supplied with appropriate materials such as books, printing, and technology.

We desperately need to have some kind of summer learning to stop the “summer slide.”

Technology is one way we can do much more with less.

The networked computer is democratizing access to information in the same way the Gutenberg printing press revolutionized human society some five hundred years ago.

We need a new groove folks. Can’t you see it?

What a fantastic opportunity we have!

posted by: LOL on January 11, 2012  8:53pm

@Kids First—Since you are so concerned about the emotional and academic well-being of the city’s students, you ought to know a few things:

1. At the city’s most needy schools, there is a shortage of staff to help students deal with their needs.  Many of these students come from broken homes and the only stability they receive is from school.  However, it’s hard for teachers to give their all to every student when there are 25 or 26 of them and no other adult to help when these students go into rages, depression, etc., while instruction is occuring.  THE CITY HAS CUT STAFF AT MANY TIER III SCHOOLS.

2.  Instead of hiring qualified substitute teachers, who have teaching certifications, paraprofessionals are being taken out of their regular classrooms to cover for sick teachers.  Now before you dismiss certifications as mere pieces of paper, consider that the district boasts of the importance of having highly-qualified staff (a status for which many requirements must be satisfied), yet doesn’t hesitate to place a non-highly-qualified person in charge of students when it means saving money on paying for a HQ sub.

> Further, the classroom that loses its para suffers because it’s one less adult to provide small group guidance to students.  Thus, some of the most needy young students in this district are stuffed into classes of 23-26 and often with just one adult in charge.  How is meaningful small-group instruction to truly occur, especially at these Tier III schools who have so many emotionally and socially needy kids with all kinds of problems?

3. The district spends a boatload of money on its superintendent, all of his assistant superintendents and program directors.  Not to mention all the literacy and math coaches who, supposedly, were expert teachers.  This begs the question:  If these people were such expert classroom practitioners, then why aren’t they in classrooms working with the city’s most precious commodity daily?  Take a gander at how many “bosses” work at 54 Meadow St., as well as their 3-figure salaries.  Meanwhile, some Pre-K to 8 schools struggle to get supplies.

4.  These kids are assessed to death.  We have elementary students taking 5 to 6 language arts formal assessments three times a year, not including the classroom assessments required of teachers by administrators to fulfill data team duties.  All these poor kids do is take tests and in between, get bogged down by the pressure of having to prepare for them.  Unfortunately, the federal gov’t only gives grant money for high test scores.

So it’s nice of you to think about the kids, Kids First, all the while you take shots at those who disagree with your buddies in city hall and 54 Meadow St.

posted by: LOL on January 11, 2012  9:01pm

@brothertruth—Wasn’t the mayor’s comment about the money he’s invested in the city’s schools a deviation from the topic of grade changing?

Oh, the mayor is allowed to respond to criticism, you say?  Well, I say, isn’t Mr. Carolina entitled to the same?

posted by: Maria on January 11, 2012  10:58pm

I think the comments of Attorney Jefferson were extremely inappropriate. To compare the situation to that of a plantation is obviously a nod to the race aspect. Even if the comparison was fitting, and it’s not, the smartest decision would’ve been to avoid using it. The crowd spoke volumes about the integrity of Principal Carolina. I do agree that he does what’s best for the students. However, he needs to make sure that he’s doing what’s best for the teachers as well. If Tenex is such a terrible system and teachers complain about how outdated it is, it’s time to replace it. Carolina has just started as principal and of course he’s going to make mistakes, especially if the same mistakes have been made without repercussions in the past. The Mayor is playing a game of politics, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about the education of New Haven’s students. Part of being successful in politics is providing results. He’s going to care about the education system in New Haven because it’s part of the reason he’s in office.

posted by: appleblossom on January 12, 2012  12:18am


... We feel compelled to set the record straight with a few facts that have been reached by experts who have studied the problem of failing schools. Your response was eye opening. Lets use logic now. If as you say Hillhouse High school is a drop out factory, which makes the Hillhouse teachers responsible right? Wrong. The Students drop out rate is due to the fact that they cannot keep up, because they cannot read, because they cannot write, they have no study skills. They have role models like you who would rather blame the Teachers in High school for this nationwide problem. The problem begins with the education that kids are receiving in grade school being taught to the test, and their environments. They have no tools to use in high school, so they act out, and out of frustration they drop out. So the overseers solution to this vast problem, his “Reform Method” is to get rid of the current teachers, replace them with inept people who will give the students grades that they have not earned, and graduate them out into a world of Crime. Reform means to make changes for the better, in this case for the betterment of the children. Some of you had a problem with the term overseer in the previous writing, that was not the initial word used, we softened it, the original term was tyrant, which actually is a better fit for his actions since taking that position in the guise of making reform.

Another response to Email Appleblossom
In reference to the seasoned HS staff being responsible for Hillhouse being ranked the 10th worst ranked school in Connecticut.  Think about this, you’re asking that these high school teachers be magicians; they would have to teach the students to read, teach them to write, how to think critically, how to act in school, and how to respect authority. (REALLY?). If the teachers as you say are the problem, you have to fire them all K-12. It is naïve to assume that because high school students cannot perform it lands at the Top. Reform has to come from the bottom up, not from the top down. If you want real reform, be real; be instrumental in making the right changes that are needed.

Another Response to Email Appleblossom
Referred to the Hillhouse staff as recalcitrant to the redirection that that person is trying to lead us in…We do question when we are ordered to do the wrong thing, honest people have no problem doing the right thing, for the right reasons, when asked with respect.

...Your attempt to yet again deflect your guilt of grade changing to the mayor, to the computer system, to the assistant principal who reported you, to the teachers, what or who’s next,?  Are the students to blame, deplorable thought. But, as you’ve stated, the mayor singled you out, his only enemy in this city to go after, can’t you come up with something better than that. Think about it, why would the mayor put blight on the schools in the city that he runs just to get little you. ...

posted by: brothertruth on January 12, 2012  1:03am

I wonder if Kermit Carolina thinks that our entire staff is stupid. Kermit do you think that by treating us with a semblance of respect and appreciation now will erase all of the disrespect and retaliatory tactics that we have received from you during the past year and a half? I still cannot believe that you would go on the intercom to thank our students for supporting you and going to a board meeting that you and your cronies orchestrated. You should not have used our students in that way. They are here in this school to get a decent education…

Yes, most of us are afraid of losing our jobs or getting a poor evaluation. Teaching is our livelihood. ...

posted by: Willie Lynch on January 12, 2012  9:59am

Im so proud of Dr. Mayo!

posted by: appleblossom on January 12, 2012  10:53am

That scripted performance at the board of education meeting on1/9/12 was a show like non other. All staged with an onesided agenda, and a one sided view, which no Hillhouse teacher and no Hillhouse administrator attended in support of this principal!!! An audience, which included a few parents and students who have been convinced that they are in support of an innocent man. I pray that their support is not misplaced but the accusation of grade changing by this principal is a very serious matter. If indeed this has happened, this will have done more to harm those students, than good, those changed grades might get them into college, but those grades will not keep them there. Parents-seek the truth, teach your child to work hard, seek help if needed, earn that A, B or C and be proud that he or she did earn it. That performance at the board of Ed meeting was indeed entertaining and scripted, another deflecting tactic, another ploy yet another smokescreen. It is very clear to many that the loudest voice heard at this gathering directing insults at the Mayor has no place in this grade tampering matter. It sounded as if this loud voice was in campaign rhetoric mode and has no direct baring on the issue at hand, grade changing. This principal is professing his innocence yet he has not proven that, he has continually attempted to deflect blame for the changes to someone or something else. An innocent person who knows he is innocent would not be acting in this manner, but would allow the proof to prove him innocent. This issue of grade tampering has gone from a molehill to a mountain, due to the inaction of the people in authority allowing this to drag out.

posted by: Kids First on January 12, 2012  10:53am

Well, we agree it is a nice thing to do, to think about kids a and families; rather than use sarcasm and subtle ugliness to Laugh Out Loud at them.
And let there be no doubt that I will defend whomever I choose. But always,  Kids First.

posted by: appleblossom on January 12, 2012  11:38am

I repeat, it is mind boggling that those in authority are allowing this to drag out. The issue is grade tampering by this principal. All of this political rhetoric has no place in this matter. The two things have only become intertwined as a tactic, once again to cloud the issue. It is obvious that anyone with half a brain using common sense can see this as deflecting from the issue.  There ere many rumor going around prior to the last elections, that some in the black community wanted to unseat those in high office in this city, since it was not accomplished last time, the political rhetoric has been intertwined into this grade changing matter, which it has no place. You lost the last election to the mayor and you’re angry with him. Truth be told, you lost because you did not get the votes, the community has to have confidence in the person who runs this city, get over it. The next election is 2014, save the campaigning for that time. The Unseat the Mayor Club has exposed themselves in this matter. What the club received last election was a no confidence vote from this community, no matter how much you trashed the mayor. Take the high road, people respect that.

posted by: Sam Snead on January 12, 2012  6:02pm

Why hasn’tanyone mentioned that Mr Carolina signs off his morning message on the P.A. systems with a “G-d Bless….”  Isn’t that illegal?  What ever happened to separation of church and state?

posted by: Not a Violation on January 12, 2012  10:52pm

Sam Snead,

The separation of church and state is a prohibition against the establishment of a state religion or a religious requirement.  Mr. Carolina isn’t promoting a particular religion any more than our courts are when witnesses take oaths that end with, “. . .so help me, God.” Are you also going to say that no staff member should ever say, “God bless you” when someone sneezes?

posted by: The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 12, 2012  11:35pm

The plantation/slave mentality is surely alive and well in this city, in all of it’s forms. 

Well said Mike.  Well said!!!!

posted by: My Hood on January 13, 2012  12:35am

Brothers, brothers, brothers, All of these plantation and slave references by all the pseudo intellectuals is downright comical. I’m sure if any real slaves from back in the day heard your whining, they’d probably laugh their asses off. Lawyers, educators, leaders and you still can’t break that slave mentality? Next thing you know, you all will be branding yourselves or something.  Here’s a tip
fellas, as of juneteenth, we is free!

posted by: westville man on January 13, 2012  9:47am

@ MY Hood

Even I- a white man- understands the difference between a “slave mentality” and a slave. Jefferson and Carolina are obviously speaking to the former, which is alive and well. And therefore relevant.

posted by: The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 13, 2012  10:54am

@My Hood:

If you are so “free”, why are you apprehensive (apparrently) about using your real name here. 

I case freedom is relative, uh?

posted by: My Hood on January 13, 2012  12:46pm

We have definitely jumped the shark on this one.
we now have a white guy defending black folks right to have a slave mentality. Priceless!

My apologies Rev. Ross-Lee, but my ghost status is necessary so my comments are not lumped together with other folk .My freedom, however, is indisputable. Not relative, but strategic.
And I say again, we dishonor our ancestors by trying to compare our situation to theirs

posted by: westville man on January 13, 2012  1:10pm

@ my Hood

Please don’t misrepresent what I said. I said that that mentality exists, not that Black people have a “right” to it. Huge difference.

posted by: The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 13, 2012  1:14pm

It would seem to me Mr. Hood, that using your real name would be the ONE WAY to disentangle yourself from being “lumped” in with others.  Oh well…

I don’t think the White Guy is “defending” anyone’s right, but merely pointing out a fact. One’s “right” to have any mentality one wants is what is indisputable here.

Finally, slavery exist on many different levels.  I don’t think we “dishonor” our enslaved ancestors at all by comparing our situation to their’s.  Instead, I think we honor them by being vigilant, conscious, and vocal concerning impending dangers before they turn into what our enslaved ancestors went through.

This is not dishonor; it’s intelligence!

posted by: My Hood on January 13, 2012  3:43pm

just what we need more of, intelligent slaves.
If you don’t mind,I prefer to denounce any concept of slavery, mental or otherwise, but I know how I would exploit someone who bought into that bull.

“That power poisons, And submission sanctifies.
What opportunities for blessed exploitations!”

posted by: Mario Callahan on January 15, 2012  10:47am

It is nice to know that we have people in the community and students at James Hillhouse High school who support Mr.Carolina’s vision.

posted by: Ben E. on January 16, 2012  9:36pm

Rev.Samuel T.Ross-Lee… They started this “plantation/overseer” whining twenty years ago, when Dr. Mayo was appointed Super by Mayor John Daniels. Dr.Mayo has worked courageously and very hard and he is still here—

Sure, he collaborates with Mayor DeStefano, and rightfully so. However, ... should not underestimate the many effective things that Dr. Mayo has done for this school district and the community.

Dr. Mayo ... has moved this district forward and is one of the most well-respected Superintendents, not only statewide, but nationally.

posted by: Halo on January 17, 2012  12:13am

Bravo Esq. Jefferson at last someone finally said the truth in public! It is my sincere hope that the chickens are coming home to roost for DeStefano and Mayo. If they were sincerely concerned about grade changes an investigation would have been done at Hillhouse High School 10years ago. And I venture to say fancy buildings do little good if no education is taking place within them. The failing grade of the New Haven School System is provides more than enough proof as to the Mayor’s concern for black students. As far as the Mayor’s much touted scholarship program… it will be interesting to see just how many of the scholarships go to minority students who reside in the city as opposed to out-of-district kids who attend school in New Haven. I will be interested to see if a demographic breakdown is provide when all is said and done.

posted by: The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 17, 2012  11:11am

Ben E.

Do you HAVE a last name, or are you one of the those people that Attorney Jefferson was talking about who is “afraid to speak out”?

I wish the NHI had not redacted (censored)your full comment.  I would be interesting (at least) to know what you had to say - while HIDING behind a pseudonym.

And why are you addressing your comment to me anyhow.  Frankly, I don’t care that “THEY started this “plantation/overseer” whining twenty years ago” as you so call it.  I wasn’t here then ago to hear, analyze or be touched by it.

I am here now. 

Now you, and whomever sent you here to make your anonymous statement, can go off an hide in your secret rooms and have an quasi-free conversation about what I just said and what it means to you. Orrrrrr, you can step to me, like a free human being, living in a free society, who is NOT afraid to speak your mind publicly, because you’ve re-sold your freedom for a Job Title, perceived status, and temporary financial security.

Our enslaved ancestors would be ashamed of what we have given up, given how hard they fought to endure and overcome restrictions on their freedom and humanity. 

I know I am ashamed!

posted by: Halo on January 19, 2012  2:49am

Your proposals are valid and well thought… but you and I both know that (sadly) it will never happen.

posted by: Charter revision on January 19, 2012  4:50am

It is indeed unfortunate that some of the bloggers are unable to use critical thinking determine what is really going on.  It is also difficult for reasonable people to believe that the Mayor is as coercive, demeaning and vindictive as he is. A cursory look at how everything has played out should be proof enough about the political nature of this unfounded, baseless allegation.

First, the principal fnds out about the investigation from a journalist.  Someone with knowledge of the investigation must have told the journalist about it.  Those with knowledge of the investigation were the board’s attorney, the superintendent and the Mayor.  So, who called the reporter and what was their motivation for doing so?

Second, why was it necessary to call an emergency board meeting on the Friday before Christmas?  School employees have been charged with very serious criminal and other behavior for which there was no emergency board meeting.  As evidence, several years ago, a school administrator was charged with very serious allegations of sexual misconduct involving students.  No emergency board meeting was called.  To this day, neither the Superintendent nor the Mayor, who is a board member, has been able to justify an emergency board meeting for this issue.

Third, writing a note to Principal Carolina just 48 hours after his two best friends publicly endorsed the Mayor’s opponent at a press conference is more than ironic. Making the absurd.claim that the note was intended to speak to Carolina’s participation in a road race is insulting.  Keep in mind that he first said that he did not recall writing the note (which was on City Hall letterhead and signed by him).  Then he said it is important to know the context of the note.  Writing “you were there” cannot reasonably be construed as an affirmation of good work, or as congratulatory in nature. It is ominous and threatening.

Fourth, what most people do not know is that the Mayor waited 45 minutes after the emergency board meeting was over to speak with Principal Carolina.  While I am not sure of the contents of the meeting, I can imagine that he once again attempted to intimidate the principal in this one on one meeting. 

Fifth, no one involved with this matter is looking to get rid of the Mayor.  Keep in mind that the superintendent and the Mayor both decided to call this emergency meeting.  They contacted the media and urged them to attend.  Wh would they want media attention about this matter?  More specifically, why would the superintendent and Mayor actively seek negative publicity about New Haven?  It simple, they are willing to live with the negative PR because the election is over, and they believe it is necessary to send a message that they still have power after the Mayor’s very slim margin of victory over a candidate with little name recognition, and even less money in a general election.

Finally, I have no doubt that the investigation will reveal no wrongdoing on the part of Principal Carolina.  Given that he was not notified about the investigation until A reporter told him abut it, it is fair to conclude that he was the subject of the investigation.  I am just interested to see how the district and the Mayor save face when the investigation clears Principal Carolina. Must keep this word in mind:  inconclusive.

[Editor’s Note: Without revealing or hinting at sources, I want to note that more people knew about the investigation than listed in this comment, because a posting appeared on Thursday night about the meeting agenda on the schools’ website.]

posted by: brother truth on January 21, 2012  9:45am

Now that the “fight club” practice under Carolina’s leadership at Hillhouse has come to light, will Mayor DeStefano be blamed for that too? Maybe this too is a computer glitch or the people investigating this will be at fault. The school is out of control. It does not matter how much you try to inflate grades, show false data to make yourself look good, the bottom line is that Mr. Kermit Carolina is too immature to lead one of the largest high schools in New Haven…. I think that we all would welcome back the honest data that was reported (whether it was low or high) under Dr. Lonnie Garris.

posted by: Sam Snead on January 23, 2012  9:45am

Another fine example of the leadership of Principle Carolina at Hillhouse H.S:

Monday, December 12, 2011 7:30 AM
1. 42 Hillhouse students signed up for the ACT this past Saturday with fee waivers.
2. Of those 42, 23 students did not show up for the test. (54.76%)
3. 19 Hillhouse students came for the test. (45.24%)
4. Two students came at 8:43 and 8:45AM, respectively. The test directions start at 8:15AM and the students were told to be here like any school day (7:30AM).
5. The registration cost for ‘ACT Plus Writing’ is $49.50 per student. The fee waivers value for those who did not show up is $1138.50. 

Commentary: Not only did they not test, but the disregard for a “free” opportunity was disregarded.

posted by: LOL on January 25, 2012  10:01pm

@Sam Snead: 

Mr. Carolina made the reporting time and testing opportunity CLEAR.

The PARENTS of the kids who arrived late or who chose not to take advantage of the opportunity afforded them ought to be held accountable. 

LAWS are changed all the time.  It’s about time the laws were stiffened to hold parents accountable regarding the education of their own child(ren).

Parent conferences, testing opportunities such as the one you mentioned at Hillhouse ought to be MANDATORY for parents, or else they be fined, or have any city/state/federal aide they may receive CUT.


Or was Mr. Carolina to go to each kid’s home, feed them, dress them and give them a ride to school to take the test??!!