The board of education has voted to add five new members to its superintendent search committee, but not without some controversy and a delay over the panel's racial composition.
The board last month had planned on appointing four people from the schools and community who would help eight board members choose a successor to Superintendent Steven Adamowski. A few residents, however, raised objections at the Dec. 21 meeting about the lack of African Americans among the recommended appointees.
At a special meeting Tuesday at the Hartford Public Library, the board voted 6-1 to appoint the four original candidates to the search committee: Parkville Community School Principal Elizabeth Michaelis; Vivian Rivera-Jeffery, the city's 2009 Teacher of the Year; Milly Arciniegas, president of the Hartford Parent Organization Council; and Phil Waldeck, Jr., a senior vice president at Prudential Financial.
the board also decided to add a fifth, unnamed appointee, presumably who will be African American. Board Chairwoman Ada Miranda said the board would name that person at its next meeting on Tuesday, and that he or she would be a parent living in Hartford with at least one child in the school system.
Miranda said the concerns expressed last month arose out of a "misunderstanding" about the makeup of the committee. Along with the community appointees, the now 13-person panel is composed of nearly the entire board of education, which includes members who are African American.
"It appeared to some that the committee was comprised of only four members," Miranda said.
Luis Rodríguez-Dávila was the lone board member to object to the new appointments, arguing that placing two school system employees — Michaelis and Rivera-Jeffery — on the committee could result in a conflict of interest because their supervisors could potentially be interviewed for the top job. Such job candidates could include Assistant Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, Rodríguez-Dávila said.
"This process cannot look like it's … rigged or like it's fixed," he said. "I'm not saying it is, but it cannot look that way."
Elizabeth Brad Noel is the only board member not on the search committee because her son-in-law, Timothy Sullivan, the principal of Greater Hartford Classical Magnet High School, has announced he is applying to be the next schools chief.
Adamowski plans to retire this summer.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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