BOE frac­tures over quo­rum

Mayor misses 3 meet­ings amid su­per­in­ten­dent search

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - NEWS - By Brian Zahn bzahn@newhaven­reg­is­ @brizahn on Twit­ter

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.”


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