Joyner, Goldson Issue Apologies

“Dueling” Board of Education members Ed Joyner and Darnell Goldson issued public apologies Wednesday for their conduct at Monday night’s fractious meeting, where a new superintendent of schools was chosen.

The two hurled accusations and threats at each other at the meeting, ending with Joyner challenging Goldson to a “duel” in Bowen Field, followed by an abrupt adjournment and the escorting of Joyner from the scene by schools security chief Thaddeus Reddish.

Public figures called for the pair to issue apologies Tuesday and called their conduct a dangerous signal to students about how to handle conflict. Click here to read a story about that. The two elected board members, former allies, have been feuding publicly in recent months and regularly attacking each other.

Joyner issued a full written apology and promsied not to repeat his behavior. He said he doesn’t deserve to remain as a board member if he fails in that quest.

Goldson apologized for losing his temper and engaging in shouting insults with members of the public during the meeting. He also defended his vote and at length characterized himself as a victim of mistreatment and the attacks on incoming Superintendent Carol Birks as a “public lynching of this extremely accomplished professional African American woman.”

The full text of their statements — issued simultaneously — follow.

Ed Joyner’s Statement

The children are the victim when any of us act inappropriately. I accept full responsibility and regret for my actions and do not deserve to be on the board if I repeat them.

When elephants fight, the grass (innocents) suffer. our children are innocent as are the least among us. Our country suffers because of greed and ego. As imperfect as I am, I want to be part of the solution. The community has the duty to hold me and ALL public servants accountable.

If not now, when?

Darnell Goldson’s Statement

I will start with a simple statement, I should not have engaged the audience by returning their shouts of “shame”, I lost my temper and for that I truly apologize, to all of the many people who attended the Board of Education meeting, as well as my fellow BOE members, no matter what side of the debate they supported.

I will not apologize for the way I voted. I tried to explain my reasons for my support of Dr. Birks, but was shouted down by some in the audience and by the President of the board. I will not use this essay to explain that vote, but will make sure to provide a document at our next meeting to insert into the record.

I will not make an apology for being a victim of both physical and verbal attacks. No matter your views of me, whether or not you agree with me, or dislike my character or general being, no one has the right to threaten of harass another person. On more than one occasion during that meeting, another board member physically grabbed my arm, and at one point forced me to lean back to avoid their threats of “dueling” with me, at one point asking me if I was scared. This is not funny, it is not “what I deserved”, and was completely out of bounds. I have sat on many boards and commissions, and have had many disagreements with my colleagues and others. There has never been another time other than this where I felt actual fear for my well-being.

This debate has raised some concerns for me which led to my frustration and outburst. I have no issue that some disagreed with my decisions, and that they voice those disagreements. I have almost never had total agreement with most of my choices throughout life, as a son, husband, father, and elected leader.

My concerns and ultimate frustrations rose from the tone and tenor of the debate. There was and still continues to be a public lynching of Dr. Carol Birks, through false mischaracterizations of her professional career and motivations, as well as her membership to African American women volunteer organizations, by a select few very active internet savvy people. They have taken those misrepresentations and sold them as facts, to a larger audience who for the most part spread those smears without so much as a few minutes research. The lies went viral and threatened Dr. Birks’ career, for political expediency. Interestingly enough, out of the 30 or so speakers who addressed the board at the meeting, only one had the boldness to actual repeat the slurs on the record. Another read the slanderous words of an out of town resident’s Facebook posting to insulate herself from the slurs.

The public lynching of this extremely accomplished professional African American woman, and the attempted harm to the philanthropic organizations to which she was a member, was shameful and immoral. I could not silently stand by and allow it to go unanswered. But, this does not excuse my angry shouts of “shame” to members of the audience.

Worse yet, they used children as props. After the testimony of one adult leader of this group, they led a young man to our table, no older than 6 years old, and had the child hand me a drawing of Dr. Birks leading them into oncoming traffic. How in the world does a six year old envision such a scenario? This was an absolutely disgusting display of politics at its worse.

Now the organizers of this campaign have decided to use the same tactics on members of the BOE. To the organizers I ask, is there no limits to what you will do to win a political point? What lessons did you teach the children by suggesting that when they don’t agree with a decision, they should scream, shout and walkout? These adults are now teaching our young people that character assassination is a fair tool to use when in disagreement. They are now showing students that an effective tool of disagreement is to shout people down. They are now teaching our young people that it’s ok to harass and disrespect the opposition.

The anti Birks organizers hold no high moral ground here. This is not a civil rights movement where children are locked out of equal education. We, as the legal representation of the New Haven Board of Education, were making a decision regarding leadership of our schools, and reasonable people can have reasonable disagreement. Maligning and defaming a job applicant for political convenience is NOT a reasonable response to disagreement. Keeping kids out of schools and away from education is NOT a reasonable response. Physically attacking and threatening BOE members is NOT a reasonable response. When people who hold office do not represent views that you hold, you work through legal and civilized processes to remove those folks. These shortcuts that are being used - character assassinations, threatened school walkouts, threats of physical violence - are third world despot responses and should not have place in New Haven Board of education debates.


Click on the above Facebook Live video to watch Monday night’s board meeting. The ultimate confrontation between Goldson and Joyner occurs in the final minute.

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posted by: Fairhavener on November 22, 2017  1:45pm

Where is Toni Harp’s apology for selling our kid’s out to tests and charter schools funders from Greenwich?

posted by: Callisto on November 22, 2017  1:50pm

Lots of loaded language from Mr. Goldson but no substantive refutation of any of the many specific and factual criticisms of Carol Birks’ record. To use a term like “public lynching” - twice - is way out of line and is an attempt to shut down any further discussion. Similarly “This was an absolutely disgusting display of politics at its worse (sic)” is inaccurate. There was a much more disgusting display of politics from the 4 non-educators on the board instituting the mayor’s pre-determined machine hire. I appreciate the apologies from both members but honestly am more concerned about the students who garnered nearly 1000 signatures in 8 hours (on top of their school day) and were blithely dismissed. “Kids First”? They deserved better. Voters will not forget this moment of betrayal.

posted by: kenny joyner on November 22, 2017  1:56pm

Darnell, as my elected representative, I felt compelled to speak to you before the meeting because I anticipated an explosive evening. We exchange thoughts about response and demeanor, I reminded you of your overly ambitious responses in past meetings and the need to adjust, not what you are saying, but the way you are saying it which inflames others. We failed. In your letter of apology, above, you state..

I will start with a simple statement, I should not have engaged the audience by returning their shouts of “shame”, I lost my temper and for that I truly apologize, to all of the many people who attended the Board of Education meeting, as well as my fellow BOE members, no matter what side of the debate they supported.

Darnell that was sufficient to satisfy most critics.. Your following comments in defense of Dr. Birks only served to point out that you were not really sorry for your actions because you continued on to explain why others made you do it. Your dissertation nullified your attempt at apology. Dr. Birks can defend herself if she so chooses. Darnell, if you are to be successful in your role as a leader at the BOE. Your rational responses need more work. I hope you see this message as a helpful reminder.

Ken Joyner

posted by: Flunky on November 22, 2017  2:13pm

Not good enough.
Goldson continues to attack the public who had reasoned, logical objections to one of the 3 African American candidates. His continued whining and victimization complex isn’t appropriate.
Worse, Joyner doesn’t address the fact that he is a bully and threatened violence.
To our students, the lesson they take away is that when you do something wrong, you can bring in other issues and ignore what you did, and that even if it is threatening violence, it is OK.
What message do dictatorial central office administrators and principals take away from this as well? Its oK to have business as usual towards their teachers.
Not good enough.
Both should resign, and the alders should get involved in making sure they do.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on November 22, 2017  3:15pm

“as well as her membership to African American women volunteer organizations”

Let’s just pick up a minor logical flaw that seems to have been spun out of control, possibly intentionally.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Dr. Birks’ membership in fraternal organizations, and her participation in them is likely a positive thing.  Nor does it imply anything negative at all about the organizations, who deserve praise for the good work they do. 

If, on the other hand, the Mayor’s support for Dr. Birks was rooted in their joint membership, or Dr. Birks’ donation to her campaign, or any other reason besides merit, there is only one person that it could possibly reflect badly upon: Mayor Harp herself. 

That’s what they call a “red herring.”

posted by: strangefruit on November 22, 2017  3:34pm

Cotto should issue an apology for lying to the Board of Alders as well as to the students and parents!

posted by: darnell on November 22, 2017  3:47pm

@Jill the Pill , your and others words paraphrased ” I’m not saying that her membership is bad, and I’m saying her membership gave her an unfair advantage, BUT, if the show fits, wear it”

@ Kenny Joyner, I respect your advice. I tried to explain my position but was shouted down, so I did it here. Others will choose to make their apologies their way, I did mine MY way.

@ Callisto & Flunky, here are a few short examples of the many emails I received over the lat week or so, many of them were cut and paste of the same unsubstantiated emails.

“You are not fit for the position you have. In fact, it would be hard to imagine that you are fit for anything. You should resign. And you should get some mental help. What a pathetic idiot. You are a fool. I am just one of thousands of community members who thinks you are an embarrassment. A sellout. A punk. Donald Trump is more stable.”

“We have asked for a school leader who believes in our schools, not another disruptive “reformer” whose leadership approach and practices lie in dismantling stabilizing measures and promoting growth of corporate charter networks.” [I received a lot of these, long on accusations and short on facts]

“I worked in the high school in Bpt from 2005-2015 at Bassick, Central and Alt school settings as well as Central office doing Out of District Special Ed Ppt’s.  Carole Birks was Principal at Harding while I worked in Bpt. She is very unstable and is a screamer She demeans underlings in front of their peers and was removed from her position An Asst Principal left his position and returned to the Bassick High classroom due to her behavior.  She does not bring people together. You don’t shut up and kiss her ass you get treated disrespectfully, in public areas of the school   An asshole is an asshole, regardless of race. BOE should stay far away from her Feel free to pass this on.” [this one was forwarded by an elected official, who withheld the name]

posted by: darnell on November 22, 2017  3:54pm

Here’s more

“In picking Ricks, however, the Board of Education has stabbed kids, teachers, parents, & administrators in the back. Ricks’ work as an advocate for the same corporate charter movement that brought in Harries is alarming. By selecting her to succeed Harries, Board of Ed members are showing a very troubling naïveté regarding the way the “school choice” movement has dedicated itself to dismantling” [this one didn’t even know her name, but reflected a common theme through all the emails, which was that she was somehow beholden to the charter school industry based on her Supt appointing her to the AF board in his stead]

“Her emphasis on testing, her previous largely unsuccessful track record, and her interest in Charter Schools all are problematic, unacceptable, and seem like the WORST thing possible for the New Haven School District, which is serious need of new leadership.” [again, deliberately mischaracterizing her relationship with charters]

“Students are very perceptive about people in general and educator specifically. It is like they have a 6th sense to measure the sincerity, honesty and integrity of adults. Many can read educators like a book in one brief encounter. After reading Carol Brooks for about 30 minutes, they did not like the theme and gave that book an unfavorable review almost UNANIMOUSLY.” [this one is a little slicker, it attempts to question her sincerity, honesty and integrity]

These are just a small sampling of what I received in emails. The flyers they distributed were even worse. And the drawings of the young ones, one which depicted Dr. Birks with leading minors into oncoming traffic were despicable.

posted by: SparkJames on November 22, 2017  4:48pm

This is unacceptable.
We need mature adults in these positions.
Also, if one is interested in these fraternal rituals
and oaths, they can go to this fabulous database:
It’s important to live up to the principles we profess with our lips at the lodge, temple or church etc.

posted by: watchfuleye on November 22, 2017  5:19pm

Oh please!!!  Enough already! I am tired of seeing “kids will think this is ok” ummm negative! People don’t teach there kids better? To know better? Don’t blame these buffoons for it. I don’t feel Darnell statement is a real apology at all. They both should be ashamed. And Darnell wasn’t all scared when he was engaging back in forth with Joyner months on end! And there where times Joyner said nothing. But lately they both are to blame.

posted by: darnell on November 22, 2017  6:07pm


It doesn’t really matter what you think I felt when being attacked, it is what I felt. And as you can see from the picture, I was really afraid of that man at that moment. And I am still afraid of what he or his supporters may do.

The fact is that I was attacked and threatened, I won’t let you or anyone else forget that, or try to change the narrative. It’s on the film for the district and 3 TV stations, it cannot be denied, unless of course Joyner is a police officer, which would add a whole new wrinkle to the evidence.

I of course will not resign, the few calls suggesting such are utterly ridiculous.

I didn’t do so during the Harries deal (when even more folks appeared and testified on his behalf).

Yes, Ed and I have had some debates, some very spirited, with m not sure how that becomes a sin on a deliberative body.

so, I’ll hopefully see you at the next BOE meeting.

posted by: Owlette on November 22, 2017  6:27pm

LOL @Darnell you seriously want us to believe you were attacked and that you are scared. I didn’t get that by watching all of the footage. Stop trying to cry victim the only victims here are the students you are disappointing and disrespecting.

posted by: westville man on November 22, 2017  7:14pm

Threatened and scared by a 70 yr old man? Lol!

posted by: watchfuleye on November 22, 2017  7:14pm

@darnell! You where not scared at all! You did that for a show! Just stop already. You both talk all that smack all the time. Just stop and move on already. I seen the footage and it would be best for reality TV it was so FAKE!

posted by: watchfuleye on November 22, 2017  7:28pm

And another thing@darnell what supporters are threatening you? Thats wrong! I don’t agree with that. Nor do I agree with people ganging up on Ms. Birks thats not fair either. And I don’t feel people should blame you or Joyner saying there kids will think its okay! Like please already! If your not raising your kids and going to leave it to the “world” than thats a problem for them not darnell and Joyner….. I don’t feel the Board is run fairly.. the Mayor had too many hands in the pot. She barely says anything and when she does its rude..and she didn’t say nothing according to the video on Monday, cause she don’t care at all! And I don’t see how any of you on the BOE get away with that. She sneaky and using all of you!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 22, 2017  8:50pm

Bottom line is those who are elected to office are to carrying out the will of the people .And this did not happen.When those who were elected to office years ago would do is have a townhall meeting with their constituents and ask them how do you want me to vote.This was not done and this is why you had a fractious meeting.

posted by: Flunky on November 22, 2017  9:01pm

Goldson got emails critiquing his choice… big deal…. here’s a revelation: THAT DOESN"T EXCUSE YOUR BEHAVIOR!! Teachers deal with immature and emotional students all the time… we are expected to be calm and rational and not take it personally! You don’t get it at all, you are still making it all about you.
I am more disturbed by the fact that you reveal you got an email from a former employee of one of the candidates and did nothing to follow up on its allegations!... I personally don’t know people who served under Birks, just Highsmith and of course internal New Haven people, but this kind of allegation is exactly the kind of thing teachers are right to be worried about. It seems that you have a duty to assure the public that you actually investigated the issues raised, whether it is the treatment of teachers/parents, connections to consultants, outside firms or groups, or whatever the issue, even if it seems far-fetched. That’s the job!
Goldson had already made up his mind and viewed the emotional emails as attacks, rather than performing your duty and pausing to say, hey maybe it is the job to actually investigate these things…. again, why would you hire a superintendent WITHOUT talking to their former colleagues?
The same is true for the rest of the board, but at least they are smart enough to not protest about the drama that they caused.
Goldson (and Joyner) just continue to make it all about themselves.

posted by: darnell on November 23, 2017  12:15am

@Flunky, I’ll answer once and then I am done
1. I said that my behavior was not excused by what others did, read it again please
2. The alleged former employee sent the email anonymously, through a third party. Sorry, but I don’t have the requisite skills to chase ghosts or mysterious ghost writers.
3. Dr Birks was recommended by the search firm, who did preliminary checks and are now conducting a background check.

posted by: darnell on November 23, 2017  12:25am

@Flunky, one more point
These emails and calls were all answered by me with one response. “Please provide me with facts or evidence to back your assertions”. Not one person responded with actual evidence or facts. Why? Because all of their claims were intrue, that’s why.

posted by: mikewestpark on November 23, 2017  11:16am

You are an embarrassment to New Haven and to yourselves.  If I can’t afford to send my kids to private school I’ll be moving OUT of New Haven when the time comes.  If this is the adolescent circus that is running our schools,  it’s no wonder we are failing our kids in this city.  The grown-ups cant even be grown-ups.

posted by: 1644 on November 23, 2017  1:23pm

Mike:  The irony here is that the actual adolescents on the Board have acted with maturity, while the old men are childish.
As for the apologies, Goldson seems incapable of making a proper one.  Joyner make a good apology, but then muddied the waters by criticizing Goldson’s “change the subject” apology, rather than leaving that criticism to others. 
The fact is, when one takes a public office, one should have a thick skin for criticism.  Some will be fair, some unfair.  I think of Mike Pence’s comments to his family when (along with applause)  some booed him at a “Hamilton” performance, when he said, “That’s the sound of freedom.”  Joyner and Goldson need to forget about personal egos and pride, and focus on their task of providing a good education for New Haven’s children.

[Ed.: That criticism of Goldson came from commenter Ken Joyner, not from Ed Joyner. Ed Joyner was consistent in an interview as well in apologizing straight up with no added hedges.]