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Monday, April 3, 2017


The  selection process  for Hartford's new superintendent of school's was corrupted from the start.

I am not sure why someone would be appointed to the selection committee who has a clear conflict of interest based upon contractual relationships with the Board of Education.

Then we have Mayor Bronin who attempted an end run around the selection process by having clandestine meetings at his home to apparently try to gain support for his candidate he wanted to introduce into the process. I am not sure why he didn't have his choice enter the fray with the rest of the applicants, but that's politics. At least Bronin was clever enough to skirt the laws by only inviting half of the Board members he wanted to impress to one of two meetings he held at his home.

Inviting the full group would have constituted a quorum and therefore Bronin would have been liable to Connecticut's open meetings statutes, but by only inviting half at a time he was able to skirt the laws. For a full story on the efforts to sidetrack the process by the Bronin's, you can read Jeff Cohen's account here.

Now back to the Selection Committee.Maybe we should ask some of the people involved to do a quick study of Mark Twain. Twain was known for one his quotes "If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember your lies". A good rule to live by, especially when the media starts asking questions and you get five different answers.

I started getting phone calls about the selection process Friday morning. One caller said  they overheard the Chairman of the selection committee, John Motley, telling someone that the selection process was a done deal and the Committee had chosen the Interim Superintendent Leslie Torres Rodriguez as the next Superintendent.

When the person called me, I said that couldn't be true because the Selection Committee had already made its recommendation of Tim Sullivan and Torres Rodriguez as the two finalists the Board would vote on at Tuesday nights meeting. The more I checked though, the more I found that a dirty deal was underway.

I spoke to two members of the Selection Committee and they both stated that Motley had called a meeting last Thursday and then suddenly changed the location of the meeting from the Board of Education offices to the Pope Park Recreation Center. Apparently Motley "overlooked" notifying all members of the new location. It appears in particular those members who were less than supportive of Motley's choice of Leslie Torres Rodriguez were left out. One of the people I spoke with said she had called Motley after she found no one at the BOE Offices, and Motley stated "Oh, we must have forgot to notify you of the new location"

 She left and headed to Pope Park. She swears that there was no vote take to narrow the recommendations to one person as Motley's Friday media statements claimed. That appears to be supported by media accounts this morning. Former Hartford Superintendent Hernan LaFontaine was quoted as saying  he"echoed Yennie's account, saying that the search committee forwarded both names – Torres-Rodriguez and Sullivan – to board members at the meeting."

I spoke with Hyacinth Yennie and she claimed that no vote was taken and that she insisted that the Board had to make the choice of either Torres Rodriguez or Sullivan and the responsibility for the choice should rest with the Board, rather than trying to make the search committee the eventual scapegoats for the decision. The Hartford Board of Ed hasn't had the best track record in their selections and it has been a revolving door of questionable selections, so I can understand why the Board is trying to provide themselves cover from the inevitable blow-back.

I also find it troubling,and even disgusting ,that they can claim they are working for the best interests of "the Children" and then decide to operate in secrecy.How are parents supposed to have confidence that the best person is being chosen ? Julio Flores a board member was quoted as saying "The deliberations of the search committee are confidential, so we do not speak of them," 

Are you serious, "confidential"? What are we trying to hide or do we only talk about transparency when politicians are trying to get votes. There is nothing that should be confidential , it should all be on the table, strength's weaknesses and all the ugly blemishes so we can be confident that the best choice was made. And how can people that were actually in the room not be sure if an actual vote was ever taken? That makes me question the capabilities of anyone involved in the process if that is their level of attention and comprehension.

Even Achieve Hartford is refusing to release the surveys conducted after the public forum. I am told the responses overwhelmingly supported Timothy Sullivan. A source familiar with the surveys claims they were told by John Motley that the surveys are the property of the Search Committee and they are not to be released. So much for the process being open and fair. I can see why they wouldn't release the surveys though. Just watch the video of the forums, It is interesting to see the standing ovation and the response when Tim Sullivan finished his presentation and the response when Leslie Torres Rodriguez finished hers.

I think Tim Sullivan made it pretty clear that there was going to be a top to bottom evaluation of all consulting contracts and salaries in the Central Office. I can see why Motley and others might be concerned if a new Superintendent pulls back the curtain on Oz and we finally realize what has been going on. We can't allow for Sullivan to start peeling back the layers of the rotted onion  and expose where the money is going. People might be upset to learn that the Hartford Schools is not a system about educating children as much as it is about keeping adults happy by continuing to throw education dollars down the black hole to keep lining their pockets.

I do have to say though, that I gained huge respect for Tim Sullivan because of this process , as dirty and corrupt as it is. I called Tim Sullivan Friday night to get his thoughts before I wrote this posting.

Sullivan was an extreme gentleman and said he was telling his supporters not to be angry but rather to support Torres Rodriguez because ultimately this choice needs to be about Hartford's children. That should be the focus of the Hartford Board of Education, keep in mind this is a decision about Children. Not about  adults posturing for power, not about adults scraping for the shrinking grant money for their sometimes useless projects and not about keeping a constituency happy because of the pigment of someones skin

The choice needs to be about the best candidate period...end of story

It is about the Children, and how many of the decision makers can look in the mirror and tell themselves they did the best they could and kept the process about the children. Can Craig Stallings?Can Julio Flores? Can John Motley?Can Rich Wareing? Can Robert Cotto?   I think Tim Sullivan can.


Anonymous said...

Sad but just the tip of the iceberg. Apparently this was decided before the forums. As they say follow the money. It did a disservice to both candidates and the children of Hartford.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, thank you! This is one of the best things you've written.

Jay Dels said...

I said it before and I will say it again Hartford board of ed is completely corrupt! Why as parents should we support this. When is it time to call in the feds!

movinon said...

Par for the course, sad to say.

Anonymous said...

What really stinks is that Leslie Torres-Rodriguez is a smart, accomplished woman. While she was not my first choice, she will pay a price as her good name is dragged through the mud because John Motley appears to be lousy at rigging a hiring process.

If Dr. Torres-Rodriguez has nothing to do with these shenanigans, which I suspect she does not, she has worked hard, and does not deserve be ensnared with a Google problem from this process. Every time you look up her name after this, she will be in the middle of a rabbit hole that is only going to get deeper.

Also, get those forms from Achieve Hartford, please.

Anonymous said...

Yes jay maybe the feds need to come in if thwy cqn fo to Mexico to find Brady jersey they can def investigate corrupt politicians

Anonymous said...

This method of selecting a Superintendent is a disgrace! How can the community have faith in the person selected when the process was so corrupt? Tim is obviously the better candidate. He is a strong leader with great ideas and Leslie is just another go along, do nothing. The final selection should be postponed until the truth is revealed and we have transparency. Our kids deserve someone who will make bold and positive changes! Today, I am embarrassed to be a citizen of Hartford.

Kevin, thank you so much for getting this story out. Your work is truly important.

Anonymous said...

So perhaps the most important thing at this time is to follow the wishes of Mr Sullivan and encourage Dr Torres-Rodriguez to be as bold as he would have been. Help her think out of the box that HBOE has come to represent. The forces of organizations like Teach for America and Acheivement First both associations of Mr Motley and his consulting firm are not necessarily looking after HPS interest. Let's have a Teach for Hartford and bring our Hartford graduates into the school system to teach, like Mr Sullivan suggested. The fact that this all looked like a Smoke and Mirror Show is too bad for Dr Torres-Rodriguez. It appears that she is some sort of pawn, but as many have said I don't believe she will be here long despite her commitment to Hartford. She is a bright young Latina with a successful future in front of her. Hopefully it can mirror success for Hartford as well...FYI Motley's firm has contract with with TFA and linked in shows he is chairman of advisory board at Achievement First and has been on board since 2006

Anonymous said...

How did Mr. Motley get appointed to the search committee if he has a consulting firm that represents Teach for America and Achievement First? What a major conflict of interest!!! No wonder he doesn't want anyone who will shake things up. This is a total outrage.