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Hartford School Board Should Start New Superintendent Search


It’s unfortunate that Christina Kishimoto had to face the news that her celebratory evening had to be canceled because Mayor Pedro Segarra called for a national search for a new school superintendent.

Hello! There is a reason Segarra did that. He found out that [David] Medina was engineering news coverage to place Kishimoto in a glowing light. If that is true, how is that fair to the other candidate—or would-be candidates who already read about the apparent pick?

I think the mayor had to step in.

The school district’s press guy was advocating for Kishimoto to the press, calling her  the best qualified. Then you had parents who were supposed to be watching out for things like this, repeating the phrase “best qualified” like puppets.

By the way, those are code words. And most people who know the business of human resources understand that phrase means they had an excuse to skip affirmative action hiring procedures.

The board of education should know better. And Kishimoto should also know better and accept that the process was tainted.  That’s not how anyone should fill a vacancy in a tax-funded entity.

It’s unclear where we should put the blame. But with conflict of interest on almost all sides of this process, side deals and perceived pay offs and only two candidates available in the selection – this search deserves to be upended.

In a system filled with cronyisms and political appointments, the board should have considered the implication of having only two candidates for this important job.

That is a dangerous message to send, no matter who feels Kishimoto was the best qualified. And stop talking about the economy and the need to skip corners. The board found $15,000 for a proposed nonprofit parent group. Saying the search would be cost-prohibitive is only an excuse to skirt the long established process—put in place for a reason.

The Hartford school system is unique in that it is segregated from its suburban counterparts with more than 95 percent black and Latino students. It’s also the home of the school desegregation case, Sheff v. O’Neill. It is notorious for turning away qualified black and brown teachers and administrators, including me.

The whole process needs to be scrapped and start over again. The school board should forget perceptions at this point and really think about the students, who include my nieces and nephews.

Arlene B., East Hartford


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