Superintendent Finalists Chosen

After hours of debate lasting past midnight, a committee advanced three finalists to the next round of what’s been a turbulent search for a new schools superintendent.

The search committee settled on three final candidates:

• Carol Birks, a former Bridgeport principal who’s now the chief of staff in Hartford Public Schools.

• Pamela Brown, the former superintendent in Buffalo, N.Y., who now runs elementary schools in Fontana, Calif.

• And Gary Highsmith, a former Beecher School and Hamden High principal who now manages human resources for Hamden’s schools.

Birks and Brown were both recommended by the executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; Highsmith was added later after several Board of Education members complained that no local candidates passed the consultants’ vetting.

Following two days of interviews and hours of debate, the 17-member search committee picked its favorites around 12:30 a.m. Friday. It passed on four other candidates; two had previously withdrawn their applications, amid perceived political interference with the search.

All three finalists are scheduled to participate in community forums this coming Tuesday, Nov. 14. An evening session, open to the public, will take place from 5:30-9 p.m. at Betsy Ross Auditorium at 150 Kimberly Ave.

A final vote on a new superintendent is expected at a special Board of Education meeting on Nov. 20.

Tags: , , , ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: GroveStreet on November 10, 2017  7:18pm

Pamela Brown is a bilingual Stanford and Harvard graduate who was only run out of Buffalo by an overtly racist, sexist homophobe on the school board. Search online for Carl Palladino if you don’t know who he is.

Excited by her experience and candidacy. The other two don’t have the experience to take the job, do the work and navigate the stupid patronage efforts of the mayor and her lackies.

posted by: westville man on November 10, 2017  8:00pm

This is great news. For once, a local, New Haven raised and educated candidate has a shot.  He’s one of the best and brightest New Haven has to offer. His commitment,  experience, education and training make him perfect for this position.  And no one loves and cares more for our children than Gary.  I hope he gets through this final hurdle. Don’t blow this opportunity. Too much is riding on it. He’s the right person at the right time.
And to anticipate flunky’s post- I don’t care if all the teachers like him - it’s not a popularity contest.

posted by: Bill Saunders on November 10, 2017  10:38pm

No comments????

posted by: Flunky on November 11, 2017  5:21am

This is really scary. It appears that there is some agenda at work.
Why is the public forum now just one short crowded session, instead of the two originally planned?

Have we done REAL due diligence? Have we looked CLOSELY at the background and history of all of these?

For example, do we REALLY want someone with an online doctorate from a diploma mill?

Especially for the “local” person the search committee rejected, what about him is so special? (beyond the fact that some on the board think they can control him). Why did he leave Hamden High? What does the staff there REALLY think of him??? Is there evidence his judgment is better now than when he stood next to a New Haven administrator ranting in the middle of an investigation? And shouldn’t superintendents be above petty politics? Search his name in the NHI, it is one thing for a teach/administrator to be involved in the political infighting, but I want a superintendent without that baggage and history.

As I’ve said, why aren’t we doing site visits? Why aren’t we interviewing people they worked with? ONE interview by a committee is enough? One week is enough to do a complete background check?

I hope the NHI is able to get a lot more details about each person and why they were selected, but I have lost faith in the process.. Maybe Hamden is the place to go teach…

posted by: I Know on November 12, 2017  6:16am

“Politricks” reign supreme. Here is the start.
Leaving out the internal candidates was deliberate. The fix was in. It was clearly not based on resume or experience. A promise was made to deliver a Latino superintendent to the Latino community if they voted for Joyner. Hence, Torre and the CALAS group joined in to support Pacca for mayor. Joyner promised if they voted for him- Joyner- he would deliver. Then they pushed for a four member quorum for the BOE business, because now they are certain to deliver their package.

Foiled Plan
Someone got to Rendente who then made a quick switch to jump sides. I wonder what was said to convince Rendente to change? This change was to cast a net to get New Haven candidates to the table, not necessarily internal—the prize was Highsmith. But, Harp saw an advantage and she and Darnell spread the net to include ALL CT candidates who applied.  This was a way to foil Joyner and Torre’s plan. Torre and Joyner had their candidate Ramos all signed, sealed to be delivered. There is no way Harp and Darnell would have allowed this to occur, because they are both at war with cocky Joyner who believes he knows it all. Plus Torre and Joyner hate Harp with a vengeance.

Saga and Deception Continued.
Now they threw in Dr. Garcia Blocker, Dr. Tracey, and Mr. Gary Highsmith in the mix for interview to appease Rendente, because they want his vote. Notice that Rendente abstained when the wider net was cast.  All have vertical and horizontal experiences—teacher, assistant principal, principal, and central office. Tracey has been director of schools for over seven years and well respected in the school community with a track record of turning around a failing school. Garcia-Blocker has been working on College/Career and was chief of staff. All, far more qualified than Highsmith. Must be a promised pay back for something.  Children and their families are not first! This is dirty politics at its best. Share Politricks!

posted by: I Know on November 12, 2017  6:53am

Deception Continued
“Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive” (Sir Walter Scott)
So, the BOE is still on the road of deception.  Now that Joyner and Torre’s plot was discovered, another plot has been underway. Mayor Harp said that none of the external candidates blow her mind until she meets them. Lurking in the background is Carol Birks, one of the finalists. What does she have in common with Harp? DELTA, LINKS, and Charter School. You ought to know secret sororites have vows they take to support one another. This is the same as BROAD Academy folks. Oh, getting Birks would help Darnell, Harp and Boise to finally get their school for black and tacked on Latino Boy’s school. She certainly does not have anything over Blocker and Tracey, and Highsmith. According to documents, she could not even manage Harding High school—she was thrown out!
This search firm was the worst! Why would they give all these candidates with questionable background? Doesn’t NHPS deserve better?

Politics is taking precedence in NHPS system and has nothing to do about raising standards for the children. PARENTS NEED TO STAND UP and let their voices be heard. I hope that Mayor Harp will support Pamella Brown, whose only fault for being thrown out of Buffalo, was that she stood with teachers against an evaluation system that was detrimental to them.  She has experience as a superintendent, background in bilingual education, and a graduate of Harvard and Stanford universities. Although the Latinos did not get their candidate, she is the best of two worlds. She is the most qualified. Only hope she is not a BROAD person. Let us see if “politricks” will reign or what is best for children. You know the public forum is not real participation.. They already know who they want. Stop wasting the public’s time.

posted by: jamesj@newhaven on November 12, 2017  9:00am

Since its obvious the fix is in, can we start calling him Superintendent Highsmith already???  Anyone who has any understanding of how a search process works would laugh at this one.  As you start to zero in on a finalist or two, why wouldn’t you go to their local environments and start digging around about them?  Talk to their colleagues, subordinates, etc. Especially for a position so important as School Supt!!!!!!  To hire someone solely based on their interviews is stupid!  This process was outright moronic, run by people who were clearly in over their heads and couldn’t stop fighting long enough to ask themselves how they would feel if they were one of the people being considered.

The fact the other two individuals are still interested in the position despite everything that has happened also makes me wonder WHY (???) they would ever consider taking a job working for such a Board?  Brace yourselves New Haven, this hire will be another Toni Harp legacy of the wrong person getting the job for all the wrong reasons.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 12, 2017  5:51pm

@ I Know on November 12, 2017 6:16am

I did read her BIO.

Superintendent Pamela Brown resume.

But check this out.The guy that took her place as Superintendent of the Buffalo Public School System is this guy.

On August 24th, 2015, Buffalo Board of Education members unanimously voted to appoint Dr. Kriner Cash to serve as Superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools.

This is the same guy who came here to apply for the Superintendent job here in New Haven and was sold out by Judas Goat Leaders who put in Garth Harries.The school board chose from among three finalists for the superintendent’s job. The three finalists—Harries; Dred Scott, deputy superintendent of Independence, Missouri; and Kriner Cash.

Lurking in the background is Carol Birks, one of the finalists. What does she have in common with Harp? DELTA, LINKS, and Charter School. You ought to know secret sororites have vows they take to support one another. This is the same as BROAD Academy folks.

True. I been said this.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 17, 2017 8:26pm

I had a chance to Check out the Bio of Hartford schools Chief of Staff Carol Birks.I smell Charter School Mackerel and shades of Garth Harries

Dr. Birks has a strong commitment to community and civic engagement. Currently, she is a proud member of The New Haven Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., The Fairfield County Chapter of the Links Inc., and member of the Board of Directors for Achievement First Hartford Academy.

Notice Achievement First

Again the best choice is the Young Turk Gary Highsmith for superintendent.

posted by: Brutus2011 on November 12, 2017  7:36pm

Of the three finalists, Pamela Brown looks the most promising on paper although I must admit I am very curious to see how Gary Highsmith would fare.

“Flunky” and “I Know” obviously have access to more information than I have.

I hope who becomes the next superintendent truly puts kids first and leads through service.

posted by: Truth is Truth on November 13, 2017  7:11am

A dysfunctional and primarily uneducated board. I agree with THREEFIFTHS and @James…that it appears that “the most promising” candidate left is Dr. Pamela Brown. Too bad that they passed on Dr.Tracey who is such a great educator, mentor, knowledgeable, caring, hard worker, and one who knows the system, builds relationships and is highly respected. When I saw her resume compared to others, she is the only one who shows steadiness and commitment—she has been here for over thirty years and has not jumped ship like the others. What folks don’t know is that different school systems use different governance structures. What they call NHPS directors of Instruction would be Assistant superintendents in other places and superintendents in others. For example: Bridgeport calls them Assistant superintendent, NYC call them superintendent, Milwaukee where Ramos was from, call them regional superintendents. They are in charge of principal supervision and school support.
Now, we have to settle with others who have to come and waste our kids time with listening tours and trying to learn the city and school system—which is complex.  Then, how could Highsmith be above Dr. Garcia-Blocker and Dr.Tracey as “I know” commented on prior? Has he had any supervisory experience with principals? No. Why did he run away to Hamden as “Flunky” mentioned? What skill sets does he have? As I see it—Pamela Brown wants to crown her experience back to the top, Birks has no more experience than our internal, and someone wants to sell Highsmith as son of the soil.

I anticipate we are going to be in a BIGGER MESS. I call upon Joyner, Torre, Dawson, and Rendente to stand up for your school system even if you are unpopular. You don’t have to cave in. Go down kicking and fighting.  Rendente—you were used, manipulated, and hoodwinked. All four of you- go back and stand up for NHPS. Reggie can finish the school year. Don’t let Harp and her cronies get the upper hand. FIGHT!!  Our families need you!

posted by: Acer on November 13, 2017  8:10am

New Haven should have a lot to offer, the NHBOE notwithstanding. There must be many qualified candidates nationwide who would be eager to take on the challenge of running the NHPS system. I really can’t believe that these three finalist are the very best that NH could come up with. Mr. Highsmith, really?

posted by: EducateourchildrenNH on November 13, 2017  12:06pm

Interesting, all of the folks here with conspiracy theories. No one seems to care when Joyner, Torre and Dawkins were full steam ahead with NO community and stakeholder involvement. Everyone knew they had a candidate chosen, who had as his main selling point the fact that he was Latino. When that was stopped they are now running around talking about the fix is in.

There were 17 people on this committee that chose the finalist, only 7 of them were BOE members. The remaining members were the leaders of the school unions, of the parent groups, and a few others.

Seems to me that this process was fairly democratic, I haven’t heard anyone come out of that process complaining yet. Should be interesting to see what comments are made at the BOE meeting tonight

posted by: Insider5 on November 13, 2017  12:29pm

Highsmith is a Kermit Carolina guy. Need I say more. No wonder he was kissing up to the Mayor by defending her when she had a press conference about the crime in Newhalville but was too afraid to go to Newhalville.  He hopes that she votes for Highsmith. If Highsmith gets the job watch and see what happens.  I am sure Carolina is vying for a spot somehow and I am sure Highsmith will be given all of the information he needs before the forum and Carolina will have handpicked residents at the forum showing their support for Highsmith.  Total BS and corruption at its best!!!

posted by: Truth is Truth on November 13, 2017  12:38pm

You sound like someone who was on the committee hiding behind this name. How did you know no one came out complaining unless you were there. I have heard complaints. Don’t forget the deck was stacked with Harp’s cronies. Joyner and Torres had to acquiesce because they were outnumbered. You cannot tell us it was a unanimous decision. Maybe you are one of those who was promised something. Think about the system and not patronage. Some of you sell your souls for anthying. That’s how black people are.  The white folks should stand up and raise hell as taxpayers to this system.

Wake up New Haven. You are too lazy to even come out to make your voice be heard.
Use your pen, if you can’t go out or stage rallies. It is us the taxpayers who will be left with a mess to pay off incompetence.

posted by: APetrillo on November 13, 2017  1:30pm

I just wanted to share a little personal background on Mr.Highsmith and why I know he is the best leader for this position.  I am a former parent and PTA leader for both Beecher School in New Haven as well as Hamden High School. I have seen the amazing ability Mr. Highsmith has to lead and guide the youth as well as interact and equip the parents with resources needed to help be successful role models to their kids. He is focused on building a community of growth and positivity. Listen to him speak, you will understand and feel that he is what he says he is.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 13, 2017  2:54pm

posted by: Insider5 on November 13, 2017 12:29pm

Highsmith is a Kermit Carolina.

But as I know said.Lurking in the background is Carol Birks, one of the finalists. What does she have in common with Harp? DELTA, LINKS, and Charter School. You ought to know secret sororites have vows they take to support one another. This is the same as BROAD Academy folks.

So your point?

posted by: Flunky on November 13, 2017  5:36pm

I am not sure that even these three are the finalists that the Board agreed on, or the ones that of just one person who sent a press release… look at this article from Thursday night about the shenanigans (apparently later pulled down):

Again… it doesn’t matter if a parent likes a candidate.. or even if they were an OK principal. Or if they grew up and have friends in ONE of the New Haven neighborhoods. (yes there are other needy neighborhoods besides Newhawllville, surprise!). Or if they have political connections.

A superintendent is the CEO of a large multimillion dollar company, with over 4000 employees. We MUST treat this with more deliberation and find out what kind of chief executive and educator they will be. We have more public info on the Buffalo candidate than the two CT ones, and we have connections in CT! That alone is fishy! Do site visits!

posted by: The Rock on November 13, 2017  6:46pm

@Insider, you may be on to something. In a previous article during the Destefano administration. it mentions the Highsmith/Carolina/Jefferson relationship.

Hmm!! Let’s see if they get positions in the BOE!!

This is another fake process just like the Police Chief Search. Highsmith has already been chosen and everybody is waisting their time. That’s why 2 people have already pulled out. This City is so corrupt and it doesn’t help that an Asst. Chief of Police is suing because the Mayor violated the charter for the selection of Police Chief. Keep it going New Haven and select another person based on political connections or correctness and not qualifications.

posted by: state st on November 13, 2017  8:01pm

Gary Highsmith is the right person for this. job < if he still wants it > after watching a fractured board of ED with an ineffective leader squabble without thinking KIDS FIRST.
I worked with Gary when he taught and was asst. Principal at Troupe and then again when he was the asst.Principal at East Rock school .He was always the last one out of the door at about 6:30 or 7:00pm. You could find him in the gym shooting baskets with many kids who either had no place to go or their ride was “late”.It was always about the kids and their education from books or about life with Gary .A straight Talking leader who the kids from New Haven and Hamden had the opportunity of dealing with MR. Highsmith .
I would be excited for the schools of New Haven if he was chosen.
John Karpel

posted by: Owlette on November 14, 2017  7:53am

@ EducateourchildrenNH

The article above which has quotes from members of the committee doesn’t seem to agree with your peaceful theory!

By EducateourchildrenNH: Seems to me that this process was fairly democratic, I haven’t heard anyone come out of that process complaining yet. Should be interesting to see what comments are made at the BOE meeting tonight

I have nothing against the candidates chosen but as a parent and tax payer I DO NOT ENDORSE the one Connecticut candidate that made it through! He has the least qualification of the three. All this fighting for Connecticut candidates and guess what the one with the least qualifications makes the cut… Darnell, Cotto, and Redente should be ashamed of their political games. I promise you one thing though, do not under estimate the community and parents we are finding our voices and are ready to stand up for what is RIGHT! STOP PLAYING with our children’s education, they are our future leaders in the making and do not deserve to be short changed because of the politics.