Harp Blasts Harries’ School Board Foes

Mayor Toni Harp Monday blasted some members of the Board of Education for “battering and bashing” the schools superintendent instead of offering constructive ideas to improve schools.

She also said that recent shootings of New Haven teens have prompted a second look at how violence prevention programs are working at Hillhouse High School.

Harp made the comments on the weekly “Mayor Monday” on WNHH radio.

She defended her actions in declaring a Board of Education member’s term to have expired (read a story about that, with both sides of the issue, here), then tackled the question of whether New Haven’s new partially elected board is bringing progress and more democracy to the public school system.

Some of the members have spent too much time “battering and bashing” Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries, she said.

“I think the way in which Garth Harries has been treated by this Board of Education, not ever willing to look at the nubmers and the progress that’s being made and trying to use everything within their power to push him out without taking alook at the hard facts ... .They’re going to use things like evaluations ... They’re going to use things like when he was in a temper one time. he may have said some things to people that he regretted and apologized for. ...

“I’ve never seen anyone who really works hard and believes in kids take the kind of punsihment that he has taken ... I would say, if they had another idea about how to improve education for our kids, aside from bashing him at every opportunity, then I would say it owuld be worth it. But I haven’t heard those ideas. And it’s been nine months! I’ve heard about getting minority contracting. But I haven’t heard about what are we going to do to improve education in the knowledge-based economy for these kids. I just hear bashing of Garth.

Harp was asked about the argument that the new board has forced the schools to operate with more transparency and to pay more attention to making sure teacher slots were filled by the time the academic year started; and that longer and contentious public meetings are productive democracy in action.

“I would say what is best about democracy is if people want ot come into it to try to make things better. If they just want to tear down other people, if they just want to tear down the people they perceive to be in power and doing positive and productive things, then people need to look at that and make changes,” Harp said.

But she also praised elected board member Darnell Goldson for insisting that education officials follow parliamentary procedures. “He’s been a stickler for that. I think we’re better for that,” she said.

Click here for a previous story in which Caraballo and fellow board member Carlos Torres detail their concerns about the schools leadership.

Teen Shootings

A caller to the program asked Harp about the recent shootings of area teens.

She responded that the teens attend Hillhouse. The shootings prompted her administration to revisit its various efforts to work with troubled students, including Youth Stat (read about that program here) and the Family Alliance’s street outreach worker program.

“Gun violence is down in New Haven. There has abeen a rash of violence. The one young man who was killed was a high school student, was returning from the criminal justice system and for some reason he escaped our Youth Stat program. We think that’s very effective. Our folks at Youth Stat, and that includes our youth services department, all our street outreach workers … as well as probation, parole for our juvenile folks, our mental health providers, are all basically meeting around this gunviolence resurgence that really seems to have something to do with Hillhouse High School students,” Harp said.

“We are aware of the problem. We are working on it. I have every confidence that our police department and our other partners will get to the bottom of it.”

Back From The Mothership

Harp recently joined other Democratic mayors from around the country for a strategy session at Hillary Clinton’s national presidential campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. They discussed how to pump up energy in their cities to increase the turnout on Nov. 8.

Even though Connecticut is a blue state, Democrats need to work hard to turn out voters that day, not just for Clinton, but to retain control of the state legislature, Harp said. “We could lose the [state] Senate,” she said. If that happens, she said, crucial state fiscal aid as well as criminal justice and health initiatives important to the city could be at risk.


Click on or download the above audio file to listen to the full episode of WNHH radio’s “Mayor Monday,” which also touched on the new Canal Dock Boathouse project, Long Wharf’s New Premier Suites, and transportation.

Today’s episode was made possible with the support of Gateway Community College and Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.


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posted by: Noteworthy on September 26, 2016  5:16pm

With all due respect, Mayor Harp has her head in the sand when it comes to the performance of Garth Harries, and the improvements she alleges have occurred in the NHPS. Her arrogance is once again on full display in this interview with the tired defense, that those who criticize have to have all the ideas on what to make better - even as she ignores what they’ve been saying.

What is clear and becoming clearer every day, is that Harp’s lack of executive experience, inability to make quality hires and devotion to her favorite city employees despite evidence why they should be dumped, is becoming a bigger, larger and much more expensive problem. Those key advisers she is listening to, the “yes” crowd who leads her to make these decisions, are serving her poorly.

posted by: BoydJones on September 26, 2016  7:00pm

Mayor Harp is speaking Jason Bartlett’s words and it is embarrassing. She talks about the superintendent being disrespected, but I’d ask what has he been to the board?

She is sounding completely out of touch and the voters of this city deserve better.

posted by: Arod on September 26, 2016  7:16pm

Our Mayor is right as always.We have just added another party to the already politicized board of education.The board was not created to be a stumbiling block but as an additional tool to be used in making our schools more productive not to micromanage and challenge every desision causing division between the parents and city hall.With he said she said arguments if they would do thier job and stop the politics we would definitly see progress at a quicker pace the mayor has dedicated much time and resources in assuring we continue in our foward progress by delegating certain individual she and others understand as vital coponents to the sucess of thier plan so for the sake of our kids get off your asses and get to work.

posted by: Childrenfirst on September 26, 2016  11:43pm

Mayor Harp was completely correct when she spoke about ALL OF the NEGATIVITY, criticisms and disrespect that these board membes show.  If they truly embrace education, then they would know that an effective and sucessful educator is not someone who spends his/her time only offering negative criticism. Effective educators start from a strength based perspective, not from all the deficits that some of these Board members are   always quick to point out.  The critics of the Superintendent and critics of Central Office staff are always pointing out how the statistics and numbers do not mean much or that the kids are still not sucessful. So I ask: Were the children graduating and sucessful when Dr. Mayo was there? How many students can Dr. Joyner and Ms. Caraballo claimed were sucessful when they were educators?
The Mayor is right. These Board Members have only offer BLAH, BLAH and BLAH.  Too much criticism, but no plan.  Show us the plan in place after Harties leaves.  Where is plan in place along with data to demonstrate success? The time that can be used to continue to move forward is being wasted in negativity and criticism. I hope we dont become the model for education that NO one wants to imitate.
It is shameful to watch tgrown-ups acting like children who complaint whenthey dont get what they want. Please,  Respect the Mayor! Respect the students in that Board! Respect each other! Demonstrate that kids are first! Yes and it means ALL kids! Yes all kids includes ALL Latino children.  Latino families pay taxes and can vote as well…
and even if some families do not vote, children have the right to be educated… Segregation is NOT okay.
No one wants to adress the “elephant in the room.” The Mayor is ensuring that ALL children are being included. Thank you for that… The Latino Board members have not even done that!  The Board needs new leadership…

posted by: Peter99 on September 27, 2016  7:43am

Mayor Harp has become John Destefano

posted by: fearless on September 27, 2016  9:32am

Joyner runs his mouth and slings insults Let him lead now. Let’s see if he can catch as well as he can pitch. Pitiful how student achievement gets tossed when politicians continue to play the power games.  Who is going to follow this mess ? Watch how the BOE supports its next choice when the heat is on them. All the negativity towards Harries will become positive when it’s directed towards their choice or them.  No Supt with chops will come here and work for this group.  Who can be trusted ?  Micromanagers can’t see the large picture when it’s their ass on the line. We shall see.  Pom poms can’t replace leadership