2 Superintendent Candidates Withdraw

MPR NewsRather than seek to work for a politically divided Board of Education, two semifinalists for school superintendent have pulled their job applications.

The two top administrators from Philadelphia and Colorado Springs, both recommended by the executive search firm Hazard Young Attea & Associates (HYA), have withdrawn from the running for superintendent, after being deterred by a chaotic search process, sources said.

Cheryl Logan, chief academic support officer in Philadelphia, and Teresa Lance, assistant superintendent in Colorado Springs, both quit the process after advancing to the second round. That leaves seven choices, including the three Connecticut applicants whom the search committee added in a closed session last week.

Hour-long interviews with the seven left are scheduled for this Wednesday and Thursday evenings. After selecting finalists, the school board plans to hold community meetings with them, then select a final candidate by Nov. 20.

The school system has been without a permanent superintendent for more than a year, after the board pushed out Garth Harries in October. Reggie Mayo came out of retirement to lead the district in an interim capacity.

Two Drop Out

TwitterThe candidates who withdrew from the process, both black women, had been runners-up for superintendent in other urban school districts. Logan made the top two in St. Paul, Minnesota; Lance, in Portland, Maine.

As chief academic support officer in Philly’s schools, Logan manages curriculum and assessment, special education, multi-language services, early childhood programs, and career and college readiness programs for the nation’s eighth largest school district.

After earning her bachelor’s at the University of Maryland at College Park, Logan taught language classes (Spanish, French, and English as a second language) in the same district where she graduated. After getting a master’s in educational administration from Johns Hopkins University, she became an elementary school principal in Howard County, an urban area outside Baltimore.

In 2013, after Logan’s third year heading up a 2,200-student magnet high school (with 97 percent minority enrollment) in suburban Riverdale Park, Md.,, the Washington Post named her one of the 18 best principals in the region. The paper had previously profiled her for changing school rules to accommodate the area’s growing Muslim population, by allowing certain students to leave class to pray together.

The same year, Philly hired her away as an assistant superintendent, where she supervised 45 principals, accounting for roughly one-fifth of the district’s 134,000 students. After audits, she removed five educators caught cheating on standardized tests, and she busted a popular elementary school for not following the district’s enrollment procedures.

Since being promoted to a senior leadership position in October 2015, Logan’s been focusing on racial disparities in graduation rates and school discipline (by piloting a pre-arrest diversion program), while completing her doctorate in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania.

“My stance on equity is nothing can happen to decrease the achievement gap if there isn’t an opportunity,” Logan said at a candidate forum in St. Paul, according to the MinnPost. “I personally believe that intellect is spread equally in the universe, but opportunity is not.”

TwitterOut west, Lance has served as school leadership officer in a district with 11,000 students in two dozen schools and an operating budget of $113 million. Since taking the job in March 2013, she helped create a four-week summer training for new teachers to reduce turnover rates and started an academy for ninth-graders to boost on-time graduation rates.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from State University of New York at Cortland, Lance taught health classes. With a certification from Johns Hopkins University, she served as a principal at two schools in Baltimore (where she earned commendations from the mayor and governor) and at a privately managed disciplinary school for at-risk kids in Houston. After that, she worked as an educational specialist at a cancer center in Houston, and she consulted as a turnaround coordinator at a high school in Decatur, Illinois.

While in Colorado Springs, she earned her doctorate online from the University of Phoenix, with a focus on reversing dropouts among black and brown youth, and taught classes as an adjunct instructor at the then-for-profit Argosy University in Denver.

At a community forum in Portland last year, Lance said that she planned to stay in her next job until retirement and said that she wanted to mentor other women to become school superintendents, according to a report in the local paper.

Neither Logan nor Lance responded to phone calls and emails on Monday afternoon.

Seven Continue

Four of the search firm’s out-of-town picks are still in the running, alongside three local candidates that were recently added to the slate.

HYA’s other recommendations are:

The three local candidates who advanced to the semifinals are:

On Thursday evening, the 17-member search committee (made up of seven board members, two student reps, three union heads, two parents, an alder and two Harp-selected health professionals) plan to discuss the protocol for selecting two or three finalists from the group.

Next week, on Tuesday, Nov. 14, those finalists will participate in two forums. District administrators, principals, leading teachers and student council members will be invited to a morning session, and the general public can attend an evening session. Times and locations have not yet been announced.

A week later, on Monday, Nov. 20, at 5:30 p.m., the search committee will present its recommendation to the Board of Education for a vote to authorize contract negotiations and a background check.

That final deadline was pushed back at board member Darnell Goldson’s suggestion, prompting an hour-long debate at a prior meeting. The change was intended to make time for more community input, but the community forums, scheduled for Oct. 21 and Oct. 26, never happened.

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posted by: 1644 on November 7, 2017  9:23am

Pamela Brown is the candidate whose experience is best suited to be a New Haven Superintendent.  NHPS will give her a multi-year contract, as she had in Buffalo, and as it did with Harries.  Then, the board can decide is no longer likes her, and give her a buyout as she got in Buffalo and as New Haven did with Harries.  She is a perfect fit.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on November 7, 2017  10:07am

Whoa.  The two who quit have fabulous resumes, and the four out-of-towners who remain all have clouds over their records.  Way to go, New Haven.

posted by: Acer on November 7, 2017  11:34am

What a sad state of affairs. The NHBOE is dysfunctional and incompetent. Though the individual members may be intelligent and caring individuals, they have not demonstrated they know how to or even want to work together as a team. Once again, the children of New Haven are the collateral damage of the small-minded interests of politically motivated “adults”.

posted by: state st on November 7, 2017  11:37am

Gary Highsmith, is the right person for this Job .He comes from New Haven knows the political landscape and hes an educator through and through.Just my 2 cents as a Life Long New Haven resident.

posted by: Realmom21 on November 7, 2017  11:54am

Could someone ANYONE explain how the top contenders are all people who have been disqualified terminated or in effect BOUGHT out. We don’t want or need someone else problems. The ones who were genuinely qualified and with out baggage that could come back to haunt us opted to not climb into the sand box with the ill mannered non adult behaving individuals in NEW HAVENS BOE.  this is horrific.Ironically I didnt support the idea of forcing 3 locals in to the choice pool but realistic they are all better options than what we spent close to a 100k on! so disgusted with the system as a whole.. But today is elections day let your voice be heard..ENOUGH of the nonsense!!!!!!

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on November 7, 2017  12:24pm

Once again….our kids suffer while adults flex ego. Smh

posted by: 1644 on November 7, 2017  12:26pm

Ralmom: To be fair, the remaining outside candidate probably have positives as well as baggage, though the NHI chose to accentuate the negative.  Previous failures do not necessarily mean future failure: Joe Torre did not do so well managing the Mets, but did alright with the Yankees.  One would hope people learn and grow through failure as well as success.  Nonetheless, it seems the fix is in for Highsmith, and the BoE spent a lot of money in a failed attempt to provide political cover, hoping he would emerge as a finalist in an unbiased search.  The remaining outsiders no doubt hope for a chance at redemption, in effect saying two the BoE that if you take a chance on me, I will take a chance on you.  On the other hand,  the two outsiders with nothing to prove have little motivation to uproot themselves and their families to embroil themselves in a mess like New Haven.

posted by: Owlette on November 7, 2017  12:29pm

This is just a reflection of the plan to prolong the process by board members who intentionally boycotted meetings. They knew what they were doing. Any good candidate with the right mind would drop out of the race and runnnnn from New Haven. Why risk coming to work in a school system that is corrupted with politics. My take of the candidates that currently work in New Haven you already are in high positions that should be a part of the process to make our district great.
My first question:
1. What you will do differently to get our school system in a better state?
2. How will you ensure the $$$ is going to benefit our students by supplying them with books instead of stacks of printed, stapled packets.(that is probably a copyright violation)
3.What will be your initiative to include the community and parents in the process.
4. What will you do to ensure that the students social and emotional development is properly fostered on a daily basis. (Principals, teachers, deans, retention specialist talking down to students and belittling them is
not a good fit)
We need a Superintendent that is going to be present and that the students feel they can approach them. We also need transparency not rehearsed statistics that mean nothing, when our students are not succeeding post graduation. We also need to cut positions that are unnecessary at central office.

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on November 7, 2017  12:50pm

Boy, New Haven is really determined to make this process as ugly and painful as possible. I do not envy the person who ends up overseeing the smoking wreckage that is the BoE (student members exempted for being awesome).

posted by: alycia on November 7, 2017  12:56pm

As a NHPS parent, this is incredibly distressing. The two (wise) women who withdrew sound incredibly talented. What a loss for New Haven! The rest of the out-of-towners have all left their previous posts on concerning terms. I remain incredibly disappointed with the shenanigans of our BOE. Are we capable of getting our act together?

posted by: EducateourchildrenNH on November 7, 2017  1:39pm

My $0.02 on this article.
1. What was the sense of highlight and spending 2/3rds of the article writing about 2 candidates who dropped out, who BTW were passed over by several other school systems?

2. I love the way people hide behind fake identities to take pot shots at people who are actually doing something, spouting conspiracy theories back up by zero facts. I hope they all where their aluminum caps when they go to bed at night.

3. And of course a person who has been in New Haven for a sum total of less than 5 years (BetweenTwoRocks) is truly an expert on New Haven and the BOE. BTW, from looking at BTRs website, it appears that blacks and Latinos don’t live or breath between those rocks.

It seems to me that the process seems to be moving along rather nicely since Cotto joined the BOE.

And I regards to those community forums not being held, I received an email from someone in the system today with dates, locations and times for those forums on next Tuesday.

I guess it would be too fair for the NHI to actually report that info, which is much more helpful and useful than a 755 word expose on TWO candidates who DROPPED OUT, as opposed to the 395 words on the SEVEN who remain.


[Ed.: We report the info when we have the info. We got the info after this article was published. Here it is:
November 8 and 9, 2017

5:30 – 9:30 PM—Search Committee Candidate Interviews First Round.
654 Ferry Street.

November 13, 2017

5:30 PM - Board of Education regular meeting, Search Committee Update.
Beecher School 100 Jewell Street.

November 14, 2017

10:30 AM – 1:30 PM - Day Session:  Final Candidates forum with Citywide Student Council.
Metro Business Academy Lecture Hall

5:30 PM – 9:00 PM - Evening Session:  Final Candidates forum with community open to all members of the public and New Haven Public Schools Community and Staff.
Betsy Ross Auditorium, 150 Kimberly Avenue

November 15, 2017

5:30 - Evening Session:  Search Committee Interviews Final Candidates.
654 Ferry Street.

November 20, 2017

5:30 PM - Special BOE Meeting:
·      Search Committee presents recommendations;

·      BOE votes to Authorize Contract Negotiations & Background Check for Selected Candidate

·      Beecher School, 100 Jewell Street]

posted by: westville man on November 7, 2017  1:47pm

1644-  I hope and pray that you are correct that the “fix is in for Highsmith”.  Then finally New Haven would get something right for a change!!

posted by: GroveStreet on November 7, 2017  2:03pm

You have to lay the problems directly at the feet of the mayor and Darnell, neither of whom seems to be in this for the kids. Both appear to be more focused on patronage, thus the focus on locals that they believe they can control.

An embarrassing episode.

posted by: 1644 on November 7, 2017  2:25pm

Westville:  I honestly have no opinion on Highsmith.  Obviously many other commentators do, both positive and negative.  My problem is, if the board had suitable internal or local candidate in mind, why did it hire a search firm to do a long, drawn out search?  Why not simply invite Highsmith and other internal candidates to submit applications, and review them? 

1.  Educate: I think the point was to show us what New Haven lost as a result of the chaotic search.
2. Yes, I am hiding behind a fake identity.  Is “EducateourchildrenNH” your real name?

posted by: 1644 on November 7, 2017  2:58pm

Quote form the linked article on Newton and Highsmith:
The Newton campaign also accused the school system for valuing patronage over quality: “The New Haven Public School system must move from being a bastion of political patronage used to reward political and other loyalties, to a system where only the best and brightest are hired.”

posted by: Owlette on November 7, 2017  3:08pm


Look at the pot calling the kettle black… You hide behind a fake name…
You seem to have much inside information hmmmmmm

The NHI is informing the public and my hats off to them. I believe the New Haven Community is entitled to know that two great candidates withdrew. Sorry not sorry that you are compelled to fixate on the fake names I understand that the truth hurts but we are all entitled to our opinions It’s called DEMOCRACY!

posted by: EducateourchildrenNH on November 7, 2017  3:36pm


Yup, that is my government name…lol…

What I was saying is that I don’t personally attack people for their service, and I don’t spread unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Owlette, I don’t have insider info. I attend meetings, I’m on lists to receive info, and I have time to call folks and dig for info (pretty boring life actually).

In regards to the info we are entitled to, I didn’t here officially why these candidates withdrew, instead I heard rumors perpetrated by some who want to torpedo the process. We actually DO NOT know why they withdrew.

What I think I and other parents and taxpayers are entitled to is the reasons why 40 other candidates didn’t make the “list”. Why were they eliminated. I know their must have been some white candidates who applied, some should have been qualified, where are they? I’m sure more Latinos applied, how is it that there was only one qualified in a group of 45+?

There is a lot of info we are entitled to, not these unsubstantiated rumors of 2 candidates who didn’t have the stomach to go through a rough and tumble process. If they couldn’t face this process, how weee we to believe they could stand up to Ed Joyner, or the BOA?

posted by: jamesj@newhaven on November 7, 2017  4:28pm

This is pathetic.  Everyone associated will this search process should be thoroughly embarrassed!  I feel bad for whoever “wins” the job because it will be a nightmare—starting with the first BOE meeting.  It should come as no surprise that the remaining candidates have baggage—all the stellar candidates gave up on New Haven a long time ago.  The top-tier candidates do their homework on the city and system they seek to lead before becoming serious candidates.  It didn’t take much for those candidates to realize New Haven is a snake pit and look elsewhere.

posted by: 1644 on November 7, 2017  4:31pm

1. Peak says the candidates withdrew because of the chaotic search process.  You can trust his “sources”  or not.
2.  The good ship Process was torpedoed , below the waterline by those who, finding their candidates not in the finalists, decided mid-course to add more Connecticut candidates (beyond Birks) and change the composition of the search committee.  Right now, the ship is taking on water and, if there is a helmsman, the ship is not responding to his commands. 
3.  For the candidates who withdrew, I doubt it was a matter of not being able to stand up to a rough and tumble process.  One should ask why one would take this job.  The answers would be higher pay, more prestige, but also an ability to help children.  I suspect they both decided that they could be more effective helping children in their present positions in Philadelphia and Colorado Springs than in New Haven.
4.  Yes, it is curious that there are no white finalists, but the search criteria did mention something like “cultural sensitivity to students of color,” which might screen out a lot of whites, or just turn dissuade them from applying.

posted by: EducateourchildrenNH on November 7, 2017  5:26pm

From where I sit, this entire process was designed to screen out or dissuade a lot of people from applying. Why do you ask? We’ll simply, the leadership at the time had a favorite candidate who had a few warts, so they tried to limit the field.

Unfortunately for them, they lost their majority before they could complete their plan. That’s why this has been so messy. I can’t wait to read the book in15 years, with all the inside dirt.

posted by: I Know on November 7, 2017  6:28pm

This search process continues to be a circus. New Haven has great leadership in its midst. Some certified and some not certified to be superintendents.  How can someone deem anyone good or the best when they do not even know them, unless there was some monkey business going on?  I commend the tenacity of the internal folks, who despite all this bashing of their ability to take on this task, are still going forward with this.  Somewhere there must be love of the work and a deep desire for students to succeed that makes them hang in.  The Independent should write about the internal candidate’s accomplishments like they did the two who dropped out.  I didn’t see where they had the edge over our candidates.
Dr. Iline Tracey has my vote. Go Doc!!

posted by: Flunky on November 8, 2017  8:01am

I would sincerely hope that the Board or the Committee or the search firm also take the time to investigate each finalist. Many systems hiring top level administrators even do site visits to candidates current work to interview coworkers, teachers, administrators, students, parents.
We HAVE to talk to the teachers ESPECIALLY who worked under these candidates…
For the internal candidates, we should be
-interviewing people that worked with Highsmith at Beecher and Hamden High (and why did he leave that position??!, trust me there is a story there..)...
-people who worked with Garcia at Coop and downtown (and why is she no longer chief of staff, or what is her current actual job?)...
-people who worked with Tracey at KingRobinson and downtown.
This is a typical and important part of the process. How they will treat the over 3000 NHPS employees can only be found out by asking…
We can’t base the hiring just on interview questions and forums!!??

posted by: 1644 on November 8, 2017  9:11am

I know: “How can someone deem anyone good or the best when they do not even know them, unless there was some monkey business going on? “By that standard, the BoE should have limited the search to internal candidates, or candidates with personal experience.  The reason for using an outside firm to shift through candidates was to have the sorting done by unbiased people, so all candidates would have an equal shot, free of positive or negative bias based on personal “knowledge”.  It’s human nature to put a disproportionate amount of weight on personal experience, e.g., he/she was good/bad for my kid.  Any candidate will had made some mistakes, or rubbed some people the wrong way.  It’s best to have objective outsiders listening to those stories and weighing them. For example the only thing a know about Tracey was a whiny quote from her in an earlier article.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on November 8, 2017  6:44pm

Anyone who does not know that the NHPS Superintendent jobs is not about educating students, but about serving the major, by rounding up any dissenters and shutting them down either by seducing them or their family members with a job or by attempting to ostracize them within the community Malcolm X-like, “by any means necessary.”

Any person who is intelligent and ethically credible enough to see and to see through the miasmic culture and context in which that job exist will not want to come here.  What we are left with are those who are either less qualified (i.e., can’t be hired for such a position anywhere else) or who are less ethically astute about such things so that they don’t care, they will do the bidding of whoever holds them in that position. 

It is not hard to see that certain members of the BOE want to be “kingmakers,” a moniker whose concept includes controlling the king after the king is “made.”  Of course, the children suffer under such a system.  But, should we even expect our children to get a quality education in a public school, paid for by the public, with public expectations that students will graduate with competent reading, writing, and critical thinking skills to maneuver successfully in this world, regardless of what their career goals maybe? 

Certainly not.  The students are expected to make it on their own or simply to become the sheeple who don’t possess the skills to critique the system that undermined their education (and their lives) in the first place. To consider the fact that the NHPS is an urban school district and the BOE is peopled mostly by racial minorities, including appointees, elected officials, and an African-American Mayor moves this situation beyond one of utter shame to one of gross tragedy.