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Connecticut Department Of Education Threatens To Fine Hartford School System


October 30, 2009

HARTFORD - The state Department of Education has threatened to levy fines against the city school system after failing, despite repeated attempts, to determine the job descriptions and qualifications of three people hired this summer.

In a letter addressed to school Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski, state Education Commissioner Mark K. McQuillan said that "It is distressing to the Department that Hartford Public Schools has chosen to flagrantly ignore certification requirements.

"In such cases where a district shows a blatant disregard for the laws and regulations which govern these issues the Connecticut General Statutes allow for the State Board of Education to take action."

McQuillan's letter cites a state statute that allows his department to fine the district up to $10,000.

The issue of certification came to light in August after the district hired Jacqueline Coleman, formerly of Hartford Stage to be district art director; Stan Simpson, a former Courant columnist; and Debra Raviv, a local chef.

Simpson and Raviv were hired to be directors of Weaver High School's academies of journalism and culinary arts.

Union officials complained that the three did not have the proper credentials to teach, evaluate teachers or oversee a districtwide department and that they were taking jobs from people who have the needed certification to do those jobs.

In his letter to Adamowski, McQuillan notes that "none of the three individuals named hold a valid Connecticut educator certificate. Additionally, Hartford Public Schools has not included any of these individuals in the certified staff file as required by law."

McQuillan also noted that the state's Bureau of Educator Standards and Certification had not been provided with Simpson and Raviv's job descriptions to determine what type of teaching certificate would be required.

The Department Of Education determined in January that Coleman could not hold the district arts director position because she did not have the appropriate teaching or administrative certificates. The school system disregarded the ruling and hired her in June.

David Medina, spokesman for the city schools, said that the letter, dated Oct. 22, was just received by the schools on Thursday. He also said the letter was the first time the state department included Simpson and Raviv; previous communication dealt only with Coleman.

Medina said school officials are "continuing to work with the state Department of Education to remedy this misunderstanding."

School officials have maintained that the three had been hired for their "real world" business experience and expertise.

They also maintained that the three would not be involved in reviewing staff performance

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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