HARTFORD — Finally, there is some semblance of responsive leadership from the Hartford Court of Common Council on the recent and gross indiscretions by the Hartford Board of Education.
Council President rjo Winch has sponsored a resolution to have the city’s Board of Education and the Chief Operating Officer be present at the public hearing on the mayor’s budget. Mayor Pedro Segarra is also expected to be present. The resolution is on the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting.
Most informed residents welcomed the Mayor’s robust response to the board of education’s feeble attempt at a superintendent search. But he retreated after criticism and pressure from some. That was unfortunate.
That’s because a fundamental wrong had been done with the search process, and it unequivocally sends the message to students, who the board is trying to educate, that it’s OK to break the rules.
Consider this: the search committee looked at only two candidates. Yet certain board members kept saying Assistant Superintendent Christina Kishimoto was the best candidate. Just knowing basic English would tell us that the proper dictum is as follows: “good, better, best.” Kishimoto could only be “the best” candidate if there was a third, or more candidates, to compete with.
Speaking of candidates, one assistant superintendent, who previously applied for the superintendent job, was pushed out of the district in 2007. He was a brilliant scholar with solid administrative skills and has since garnered national recognition. His name is Romaine Dallemand, and he is now superintendent of Bibb County Board of Education in Georgia. Perhaps that’s why the board and others refused to entertain a national search. If they did, Dallemand would have clearly been one of the best. During the city’s search, he was on the market for a new job.
But aside from the number of candidates screened, there was the vat of arrogance that oozed from not only Kishimoto, but a few board members. They behaved as if they were a part of a clique, and they owed the public no sensible explanation because they spent weeks and months following rules that were, get this, put in place to eclipse the long established rules for doing a search for this critical position.
The twisted attitude displayed by these board members was enough to make a casual observer realize the depth of their ignorance about the role of board members.
In addition to that wanton ignorance, there was arrogance from the School Superintendent’s “cabinet.” In this economy, where Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is asking residents to make “shared sacrifice,” the board’s administration is saying they deserve pay raises. The gall.
Another problem came after the board voted on the new superintendent. After being warned about heeding to residents and their concerns, Kishimoto insisted on moving forward with plans to close three schools. And guess where these schools are located? Her target zone is in the poorest section of the city with the most vulnerable children, the North End.
On May 16, residents want to see more than talk. They want concrete actions to follow soon afterward and that will address a bevy of concerns about the board of education. They want to see measures of accountability—besides ramped up test scores that fail to give an accurate snap shot of what’s actually going on in Hartford’s schools. City residents are rightfully saying enough is enough.