It seems like all we keep hearing how wonderful our "strong Mayor" form of government is.
Well today the Hartford Board of Education seems to be sending a message loud and clear. The strong Mayor, Pedro Segarra, has been reduced to a weak and ineffective leader if he accepts the Board's message to him.
The Board has decided not to accept Segarra's request to begin over and conduct a legitimate search for a new Superintendent. Board President David McDonald, also not one to be known for his strong stances on anything, issued the following statement today:
Statement of the Hartford Board of Education
March 1, 2011
Last week, the Board cancelled its scheduled Special Meeting to consider the Search Committee’s recommendation to appoint Dr. Christina Kishimoto as the next superintendent of Hartford Public Schools. The decision was made, on February 22, 2011, to consider Mayor Pedro Segarra’s request to conduct a national search for our next Superintendent of Schools.As Chairperson of the Board of Education, I have reached out to and met with Mayor Segarra
to acknowledge and address his concerns. I want to thank the Mayor for meeting with me on two occasions on this critical matter and for also meeting with our parent constituency to discuss their concerns. I am pleased to hear about his continued commitment to our reform
work. We will mutually bring unity back to our city around Hartford’s education reform, and have agreed to work collaboratively with the new Superintendent, the Board of Education and all stakeholders.Additionally, the HBOE Superintendent Search Committee met last Saturday, February 26th, todiscuss the request made by Mayor Segarra. The committee deliberated for approximately two hours on his request and examined the strengths and challenges of different options. The Committee firmly stands behind the integrity of the search process and confirmed their recommendation for the Board to follow their policy, as written, by appointing Dr. Kishimoto
based on her qualifications, track record and interviews. It was also indicated by the Committee that the Board should continue discussions with the Mayor to work towards unity around building coalitions for the benefit of our children and families. In discussions with the Mayor, additional details about the Superintendent Search process wereshared in order to allay his concerns as follows: The process began with the development of a comprehensive Board Policy (Leadership Succession) in April 2010. The work on this policy spanned from April to October, 2010,at which time the Board adopted the Policy on October 19, 2010. In late December 2010, the Search Committee engaged the services of CABE (Connecticut Association of Boards of Education) Search Services to strengthen the objectivity and
transparency of the process. CABE’s consultant facilitated the process, provided training to the Search Committee, assisted in the development of interview questions along with the input of the committee membership, and beginning January 4th, assumed the leadership role for the process. All applicant information was sent directly to the consultant at CABE.
During the search process, the Board engaged the community on many occasions and at several junctures in order to incorporate the wide and varied perspectives of our community at large. Community Forums were conducted by Achieve Hartford!, and a Board led focus group with key stakeholders was held, including Council members and representatives from the business sector in addition to the leadership of the Administrators union.
o A survey, seeking community input was available online in both English and
Spanish for nearly a month. Feedback was received from more than 700 students,parents, staff and community members. The feedback was used in the developmentof interview questions for the Search process.
o The Board also heard the concerns of our community and agreed to add a 13th member to the Search Committee and did so by seeking nominations from key active community leaders to ensure additional involvement. Those nominations were reviewed and the 13th member, an additional Hartford parent, was ultimately selected.
o Our CABE consultant met with the Hartford Federation of Teachers on our behalf,to seek its feedback and spoke with Connecticut superintendents and key professionals to gather feedback about desirable qualifications for urban leaders.Each of the steps and actions of the search process were routinely and repeatedly shared publicly at Board meetings. At critical stages during the search process, the Search Committee Chairperson and the consultant contacted key community stakeholders to keep them apprised
of the status of the search. Attention to detail and due diligence was the hallmark of the search process. The Superintendent Search Committee was shielded from all rumors and allegations swirling in the community about the candidates during the process and there was no undue influence on the process. We will continue to have discussions with Mayor Segarra in the coming days in an effort to move forward in unity to further benefit our children and families and the great city of Hartford. The Board of Education fully expects the new Superintendent to work collaboratively with the Mayor and all key constituents. The Board is also firmly committed to
following its Leadership Succession Policy, and as Chairperson of the Board of Education I am sworn to uphold all of our policies. In closing, the Board of Education will schedule a special meeting for Wednesday, March 2nd,
2011 to act upon the Search Committee's recommendation. We appreciate the Mayor’s stated commitment to collaborate with the new Superintendent and the Board. We look forward to beginning our transition in welcoming our new Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools.
If Segarra is going to reclaim any authority and look like a leader, he once again needs to shut this process down and start fresh. If it is not already being done, the Corporation Counsel should be drafting paperwork to take before a Superior Court Judge first thing tomorrow morning. The process was clearly inappropriate and enough information is available about unfair influence being used to select Kishimoto over Timothy Sullivan.
It shouldn't be too hard to convince a Judge that David Medina's actions were inappropriate or Precious Ross-Ellis or Millie Arciniegas. It would even be interesting to see David McDonald and others answering questions about the process under oath, before a Judge.
Like I said a few weeks ago, anyone that thinks Eddie Perez and his people aren't still running things behind the scenes, think again.
Only time will tell if Pedro Segarra has leadership qualities or is he easily squashed and silenced.
According to Jeff Cohen at WNPR, Mayor Segarra made the following comment:
“As a community member, educator and Mayor, I stood up and voiced my concerns and I will continue to do so in the future.
I will proactively work with the Board of Education for the good of all of Hartford’s families and children.”
Mayor, it doesn't matter that you "stood up". You need to stand up, continue to stand up and fight for what you believe in. We don't need a wishy-washy Mayor looking for headlines. We need a Mayor that is willing to take a stand and stick to it until all corrective actions are exhausted, That is what they call integrity.
If you can't or are unwilling to do it, we have other choices that we hope will in November.