BOE fractures over quorum
Mayor misses 3 meetings amid superintendent search
NEW HAVEN » Mayor Toni Harp is missing meetings of the Board of Education, on which she sits as a member, citing discontent with the search process for a new superintendent of schools as well as her mayoral duties.
City spokesman Laurence Grotheer said Harp’s absences, with Monday being her third since the death of school board President Daisy Gonzalez, were related to Harp’s disagreements over the board’s direction.
“The mayor remains concerned with current board leadership about the search for a new superintendent, and the mayor’s preference for more public participation in that search. The mayor’s absence from last night’s meeting reflects that concern,” Grotheer said Tuesday. “The mayor hopes current board leadership begins working to include the voice of the New Haven Public Schools community as the search process continues.”
Grotheer said there is “always competition for time on the mayor’s schedule.” Hours before Monday’s school board meeting he said the session was on her calendar, as were two previous meetings missed by the mayor.
When asked, Grotheer said neither he nor Harp would classify her absences as a “boycott.”
“It’s not a boycott; one night she had commitments at the (Connecticut Open) tennis tournament, another she was in a meeting of the office, the meeting this week was the meeting before primary night and she was taking care of last-minute political issues,” he said.
When asked whether the mayor was campaigning for the primary on the night of a school board meeting where the quorum of five could not be met, Grotheer said she was “doing political work.”
Grotheer said, despite her absence from meetings, Harp is not too busy to serve on the school board.
“She meets with (interim Superintendent of Schools) Dr. (Reginald) Mayo every week. She met with him today at a weekly meeting,” he said Wednesday.
Since Gonzalez’s death, there have been six members of the board who must meet the quorum of five to do business. Grotheer said the onus for meeting a quorum should be split among all those on the school board equally, although it’s Harp’s responsibility to appoint someone to complete Gonazalez’s term.
“There is a vacancy on the board that contributes to the quorum issue, and one of the regrettable parts of filling that vacancy is the Board of Alders’ schedule at this time of year and the infrequency of its meetings,” he said.
Harp has appointed Jamell Cotto, who was challenging school board President Ed Joyner in the Democratic primary before he received the nod from the mayor, to fill Gonzalez’s seat.
Darnell Goldson, who was once the solitary chairman of the school board’s superintendent search committee, is also missing meetings, having only called in briefly to an Aug. 22 special meeting to approve nearly 100 hires and several contracts before the start of the school year. With both Harp and Goldson absent from meetings, members Joyner, Carlos Torre, Che Dawson and Frank Redente are unable to conduct legal votes on business.
Goldson said he has not boycotted meetings in the past, citing vacations and work obligations, but he has decided he would boycott moving forward if his concerns with the search process for a full-time schools chief were not addressed.
“They’re going full steam ahead on this superintendent stuff without having adequate community input,” he said.
Goldson said he disagrees with the way the
City spokesman Laurence Grotheer said there is “always competition for time on the mayor’s schedule.”