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A National Search For Superintendent Now?

Hartford officials should regroup and appoint Christina Kishimoto

The Hartford Courant

February 24, 2011

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and the city's school board ought to salvage as much as they can from a derailed appointment process and name Christina Kishimoto, who was a search committee's choice, as the school district's next superintendent if she'll still take the job. Forget a national search at this late date.

Plans to formally anoint Ms. Kishimoto as Superintendent Steven Adamowski's successor were shot down by the mayor on Tuesday just hours before an evening reception celebrating her appointment. Mr. Adamowski is retiring this summer.

At an astonishing midafternoon news conference, Mr. Segarra criticized the board's selection process saying it lacked "transparency" and said the board should consider a national search to find a superintendent. It was a colossal political blunder by Mr. Segarra, who for the most part has been surefooted since succeeding the convicted Eddie Perez as mayor last July.

It has been well-known for some time that Ms. Kishimoto, an assistant superintendent in Mr. Adamowski's administration, was going to get the job. Why did the mayor wait until hours before the final vote to weigh in? That was a slap in the face to the search committee, the school board and Ms. Kishimoto.

Even the mayor says she's "very qualified." So is the only other candidate seriously considered Tim Sullivan, principal of the Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School. But the search committee and school board obviously felt Ms. Kishimoto would more faithfully continue with Mr. Adamowski's results-producing reforms.

So let's get on with it. Would another search, which would take many months if done properly, really produce a better candidate? More likely, Mr. Segarra's timing in pulling the plug on the first search would scare off good outside candidates, who would naturally wonder about the stability of the Hartford situation.

There is, sadly, evidence that the first search was stacked in Ms. Kishimoto's favor, such as school district spokesman David Medina's inappropriately trying to line up interviews for her, but not for Mr. Sullivan, with influential Hartfordites. That doesn't trump her impressive resume. Hartford may have more to lose by starting over.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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