UPDATED AT 7:30 PM – Malloy administration and Hartford Mayor team up to undermine American Federation of Teachers and Clark Elementary

UPDATED with Hartford Board of Education vote.

With Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra leading the way, the Hartford Board of Education voted 7 -1 (With only Working Families Party Robert Cotto Jr. voting no) to ask Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, to short-circuit the legislative mandated school turnaround process and give Friendship Charter School, Inc. a no-bid contract to take over Hartford’s Clark Elementary School.

During the course of the discussion, the Hartford Board of Education chairman read letters from Clark Parents in favor of the move to give Friendship their school but failed to read letters from parents who opposed the give-a-way program.  In addition, the Board of Education dismissed the first hand reports that the so-called 10-1 vote in favor of Friendship  Charter Schools by the Clark School Governance was actually a vote in favor of having Friendship as an option but WAS NOT a vote exclusively in favor of the out-of-state charter school company.

Perhaps the single most important development at the meeting was the fact that the Mayor and administers with the City of Hartford admitted that the Malloy administration was behind the Friendship and that the city was told that Clark would lose the funds state funds if the parents, teachers and local officials did not agree to the Commissioner’s demand.

The Malloy administration’s willingness to abuse its powers and its commitment to privatizing Connecticut’s public schools apparently has no bounds.

UPDATED with email to Hartford Board of Education from Lakeisha McFarland (Clark PTO President and School Governance Council member)

When Paul Hozler, the Executive Director of the corporate funded education reform group Achieve Hartford! wrote to two high-ranking Hartford Board of Education administrators that he was concerned that,

“…The [Clark] parents seem to be playing into the pockets of the AFT,” 

Hozler revealed far more than he probably meant to about the strategy behind the on-going effort to hand Hartford’s Clark Elementary School over to an out-of-state charter school management company called Friendship Charter Schools, Inc.

As reported yesterday on Wait, What?, in a hastily called special Hartford Board of Education meeting scheduled for late this afternoon, Mayor Pedro Segarra and his appointed majority on the Hartford Board are expected to vote in favor of a resolution asking Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, to step in and unilaterally eliminate the involvement of the parents and teachers of the Clark Elementary School.

The rush to put an end to the legally mandated school turnaround process is part of a broader effort to ensure that Friendship Charter Schools, Inc. gets a lucrative state taxpayer funded management contract to take over the Clark Elementary School.

Sources inside the State Department of Education and within the Hartford School System now confirm what internal emails had already revealed.

Prior to the weekend of March 29-30, 2014, Commissioner Pryor, his turnaround team, the Hartford school administrators and a group of corporate education reform organizations were intending to allow the Clark parents and teachers to complete the legally mandated turnaround committee process.

The privatization proponents have envisioned a process in which the steps to reach consensus about Clark School would be achieved with a site visit to New York City and Cincinnati to provide the Clark School community with an opportunity to explore other turnaround options, in addition to Friendship Charter School.

However, growing concerns about the possibility that the Hartford Federation of Teachers (HFT) and the community organization known as Hartford Rising might convince parents to choose another management model for Clark Elementary School led the supporters of privatization to a last minute change of strategy.

Starting with a meeting on Sunday evening, March 30th, the public and private funded groups promoting Friendship Charter Schools, Inc. met with a small group of Clark parents to scare them into thinking that if they did not choose Friendship Charter Schools immediately, they would lose out on the Malloy administration’s promise to allocate $1.5 million to help enhance the Clark Elementary School.

The Clark School parents were told that the site visit to New York was postponed and that Clark parents needed to attend the State Board of Education Meeting on April 2nd and speak up in favor of additional funding for Clark. 

In an interesting twist, apparently Achieve Hartford!, Hartford Area Rally Together (HART) and the other groups failed to cancel the trip and a coach bus actually showed up at the Clark School to take parents to see the New York City schools, but the bus was turned away when there were no parents to go on the trip.

At the Sunday meeting, and in the days that followed, the corporate education reform groups also planned a demonstration that is set for this afternoon in which Clark Parents were told to come to the school, put on tee-shirts and march to the Board of Education meeting to demand that the Hartford Board of Education vote to ask the Commissioner to unilaterally give the management contract to Friendship Charter Schools.

The fact that the demonstration planning has been going on for days is particularly noteworthy since the notice of the Board of Education’s special meeting wasn’t even released until 5pm last night.

The coordinated effort to give Friendship Charter School a no-bid contract is not only evident in the package of internal emails but the effort has now been independently confirmed by people directly involved in the process.

And perhaps the most disturbing development in this whole, bizarre charade is that it appears to be nothing more than an attempt to undermine the Hartford Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers despite state laws that not only allow, but require, the full participation of teachers and their union in the turnaround process.

Making the situation even more disgusting, in an effort to cover-up the privatization strategy, the Malloy administration, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and the corporate education reform groups are trying to make it appear that the whole effort to close down the turnaround committee process is simply a response to “service” the Clark parents.

As part of that strategy, Mayor Pedro Segarra released a statement earlier today claiming that the vote to request Malloy’s Commissioner of Education to stop the turnaround process and simply hand pick Friendship Charter Schools is at the request of the Clark Parents.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s statement was as follows,

MAYOR SEGARRA statement on parents decision regarding turnaround plan for clark elementary school


 (April 8, 2014) Today, Mayor Segarra made the following statement regarding the proposed turnaround plan for John C. Clark Elementary School:

“It has always been my belief that when a school partners with its families and community groups, children will stay in school longer and have a better chance of success.  A critical component of a providing a quality education is making sure the parents have a voice in the school process.  Parents who are actively involved in their children’s education are helping to build a foundation for their children’s future success.  The parents at Clark Elementary School have actively engaged in discussions surrounding the reform process for the school and have made their desires clear.

“The Clark School Governance Council voted unanimously in favor of partnering with the Friendship Public Charter Schools to assist in the school’s turnaround work.  It is disappointing to see that despite this clear recommendation from the School Governance Council, the Clark Turnaround Committee failed to reach consensus on a plan that would have provided the Clark Elementary School with the resources that are needed for a successful turnaround plan.  As Mayor, I support the School Governance Council’s recommendation to partner with Friendship Public Charter Schools to undertake this important work.

“I am asking that Stefan Pryor, Commissioner of Education for the State of Connecticut, exercise his statutory authority and contact Friendship to formally request that they reconsider being the lead partner with Clark Elementary School.”


Mayor Segarra’s claim that he is “doing it for the parents” is particularly insulting since Hartford parents that have been directly involved in the process have made it clear that the purported vote in favor of Friendship Charter Schools was not intended to be a vote in favor of giving the contact to Friendship Charter Schools but only a vote that Clark parents wanted Friendship Charter Schools as one of the options on the table as they explored other potential management models.

But as we have learned over and over again, when it comes to the privatization of our public schools, the truth is a dispensable commodity for the Malloy administration.


Earlier today, Lakeisha McFarland (Clark PTO President and School Governance Council member sent the Board of Education the following email;

Good Afternoon Mayor Segarra and Board Members,

My name is Lakeisha McFarland I am the PTO President, SGC member and turn around team committee member at Clark school. I feel it is necessary to inform you that the SGC 10-0 vote that everyone is talking and writing about was NOT to partner with Friendship but it was to ask them to return to the table to be considered as ONE of the options for Clark.  A couple of parents are being misled to change their voices completely. Our unified voice was to see other models and we refused to have Friendship forced on us as the option we must partner with. As the PTO President I am responsible for communicating with parents and the last meeting that was held we all agreed as a parent body that more options and other models needed to be visited.  It is unfair that an organization can change the minds of a couple and pretend that this is what the majority of parents want.  Despite the couple of parents that are being misled to believe that we must pick Friendship, parents at large still stand on our original demand of seeing more options other than Friendship. It is a sad day when an organization that is hired to get the consensus of the parents and stakeholders in the Clark community are doing the opposite and trying to deliver us to Friendship on a silver platter. Parents at Clark are asking you NOT to intervene in the process of the turn around team and PLEASE don’t take our voices away.



  • Rafael G

    Please somebody tell me that the meeting tonight will hold public comment so that I can reschedule getting my work supplies in favor of going to this meeting and being there on time. the whole musical chairs with meetings and not being able to speak on a subject while a decision on something so public is being made behind closed doors. It’s laughable and disgusting at the same time to think this was a unanimous decision…I almost feel like we have the same weight of ufo nuts…no matter how much proof they come up with, the vast majority will still contend they hace to prove MORE. im honestly outraged about this and if the clark parents dont stand up We will lose one of the last remaining neighborhood schools

    • Charlie Puffers

      NO PUBLIC COMMENTS AT THIS MEETING!!! It was the only agenda item and it was changed at the 11th hour. The presentation on Friendship was depressing. Test scores were poor, facts were missing, teacher turnover was high. This is a travesty. Segarra and his 5 votes need to be removed.

      • Rafael G

        Oh just like with Perry. They vote then just ignore the public criticism later…unless some unabashed parent becomes especially critical…I just think the mayor having 5 appointed officials on a board he pushed himself into is morally wrong…how is not legally wrong??

  • Linda174

    On April 8th Holzer said, “Does Achieve Hartford! care about which partner works with Clark? Not at all. This is about what parents and the school community coming together want for their school, and in my view mostly about what the parents want.”

    What is his claim now? How deep are the pockets of Achieve Hartford?

    Too bad the children couldn’t have taken a field trip to a museum if the fancy coach bus was all paid for.

  • Rafael G

    No the kid’s were on vacation. I was actually scheduled to go as one of the parent leaders. Principal texted me and made it clear that it was kinda pointless to go..I wasnt told it was canceled, we just kinda agreed that it wouldn’t be a productive day for either us or the school. Im too busy to just take a trip to ny to sight see.

  • Guest

    School Governance Councils are subject to FOI requests.


    FROM SB 458:
    (6) (A) The school governance council or a similar school

    governance council model, described in subparagraph (C) of

    subdivision (1) of this subsection, at a school that has been designated

    as a low achieving school, pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection (c)

    of this section may, by an affirmative vote of the council, recommend

    the reconstitution of the school into one of the following models: (i)

    The turnaround model, as described in the Federal Register of

    December 10, 2009; (ii) the restart model, as described in the Federal

    Register of December 10, 2009; (iii) the transformation model, as

    described in the Federal Register of December 10, 2009; (iv) any other

    model that may be developed by federal law; (v) a CommPACT

    school, pursuant to section 10-74g; or (vi) an innovation school,

    pursuant to section 10-74h. Not later than ten days after the school

    governance council informs the local or regional board of education of

    its recommendation for the school, such board shall hold a public

    hearing to discuss such vote of the school governance council and

    shall, at the next regularly scheduled meeting of such board or ten

    days after such public hearing, whichever is later, conduct a vote to

    accept the model recommended by the school governance council,

    select an alternative model described in this subdivision or maintain

    the current school status. If the board selects an alternative model, the

    board shall meet with such school governance council to discuss an

    agreement on which alternative to adopt not later than ten days after

    such vote of the board. If no such agreement can be achieved, not later

    than forty-five days after the last such meeting between the board and

    the school governance council, the Commissioner of Education shall

    decide which of the alternatives to implement. If the board votes to

    maintain the current school status, not later than forty-five days after

    such vote of the board, the Commissioner of Education shall decide

    whether to implement the model recommended by the school

  • Rafael G

    We need the sgc and other clark parents to SHOUT LIARS! at them as they read the bull$&%! Out loud

  • R.L.

    This is a microcosm of what is happening throughout the country and the world for that matter. Local control is being given to outside corporate interests. The politicians that are supposed to serve the community server the corporate. The checks and balances put in place by the founders of our experiment in democracy have been flooded out by money. The floodgates for that flow of money have now been opened even wider with the recent “supreme” court decision that the amount of “free” speech you have depends on how much you are willing to spend to have it.
    The government, both local and federal, is not responsive to the voices o people (unless you actually believe that corporations are people. The only course of action for change appears to be civil disobedience.

    • Rafael G

      Agreed. Its disgusting that the people have to form independent groups and committees in order to have a voice. For the PUBLICALLY ELECTED officials who are responsible for th e well being of our citys and towns have apparently forgotten they are leaders who SERVE th e people. Im beginning to believe we are systematically LOSING our democracy not only here in CT but all over the country. Soon we will all have no voice and no privacy and no freedom because of all these executive orders both local and federal are stripping away our constitutional rights one by one.

  • Mary Gallucci

    Pryor really cares about parents! yeah, right. He can’t even be bothered to follow his own legislation–remember the joke of a waiver Paul Vallas got, after deluding the clownish SBE regarding his “independent study” at the NEAG school of ed? Pryor and Vallas could not even be bothered to go through the motions.
    Ditto with the SGCs. What, they didn’t vote for a charter? Is there anyone we can bribe? Give a job to? Don’t be skeptical, this has happened!
    I am actually waiting for Pryor to hijack the Turnaround Team’s application for Windham (the one he couldn’t believe in, because it did not include a “lead partner”; the one we wanted to do “in house,” using the money for children in classrooms and for teaching staff that were more permanent than TFA. He will probably sell us out to Friendship charter, or Achievement First, or Capital Prep in a minute. Never mind that we have a plan geared to our unique circumstances.
    There is no reason to engage an out-of-state charter company, or an instate one, for that matter. Give schools the money, and see how responsibly we spend it.

  • Guest

    History shall repeat itself. Fenty was voted out because of Rhee. Malloy will lose his job in the not to distant future because of Pryor.

    • Mary Gallucci

      by then many schools will have been ruined.

      • Rafael G

        They want to cause as much irreversible damage as possible BEFORE they are no longer in power or responsible for the crappy self serving decisions to come biting them in the ass. It’s become common for the powers that be too make decisions against the outcry of the public and then beg for forgiveness around election time. If policymakers were held responsible AFTER their decisions were shown to be detrimental I’m sure policy would become much more effective

      • Bill Morrison

        As Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The forces of evil in our society are in charge. People like Segarra, Pryor, Adamowski, and Malloy have proven not only their contempt for the law, but their contempt for the People of CT. So, what are we good people going to actually do to stop them?
        Our verbiage is simply many puffs of wind that they refuse to hear. Many of us have spoken out at BoE meetings throughout the state and at State BoE meetings. Some of us have spoken to state legislators and at Union meetings. Many of us have organized Opt Out meetings. Some of us take the time to write either on blogs or actual letters to key officials. All of this has been to no avail. They do not care.
        Mary correctly states that many schools will be ruined by November. Hundreds of thousands of our children will also be damaged by these demons if we good people do nothing but talk. We should all consider the implications of Burke’s statement. What are we good people going to actually do to stop them? If we do nothing, we are as guilty and as complicit as these corporate cronies.
        I propose that we organize an occupation of the State Dept. of Education, notably Commissar Pryor’s office. Our slogan can be that used by Verizon, “Can you hear me now?”

        • Guest

          The hoi ploi must destroy the Malloy ploy!

  • Bill Morrison

    We the People need to reassert ourselves to deny these tyrants any more abusive corporate political power. If it takes the ballot box, so be it. If it takes active street demonstrations, so be it. If it takes revolution, so be it. But, simply crying in our blogs has proven ineffective. Our voices might be heard within our own sphere of friends; they are certainly being ignored by the powerful.
    Our cherished Declaration of Independence states that, when government becomes unresponsive to the needs of the People, it is the duty of the People to alter or abolish that government. Such words, written in 1776, speak loudly and clearly to the needs of the People in 2014. Segarra, Malloy, and Pryor need to be swept away into the ash-heap of history, much like the old Soviet Union of President Reagan’s days.
    My position might be radical. But, unless we take positive and proactive action immediately, we deserve what we get from the tyrants we allow to remain in power.

  • jschmidt2

    THe state and those in power controls the money, and as long as they are in office, they will force people to comply with threat of withholding money.

  • Minimus

    Follow the money. There is no doubt in my mind that kickbacks are involved. Malloy et.al. have got to go. Lets vote them out this fall.

    • R.L.

      And vote for who? For me it’s anyone but Malloy. I also won’t be voting for any of my local representatives who support his initiatives. However, I’m not optimistic that the alternative will be any different. The time is ripe for a Green party candidate to run for Governor. They should also run someone for attorney general and as many legislative positions as possible. This nonsense has got to stop.

  • jrp1900

    When you look at what has happened to the Hartford Public School system over the last decade or so, you realize that it’s not just a matter of “school reform”; more fundamentally, it’s the gradual murdering of local democracy. The first hint in this direction was the establishment of the so-called “strong mayor” as the ruling principle. Then there was the reconstitution of the school board to REDUCE community participation. Giving the mayor the power of appointment is an increase of mayoral power at the expense of people power. Obviously, the strong mayor system is a recipe for nepotism and cronyism, but it has the distinct advantage of removing the public’s voice from local governance matters. In other words, it’s a big step away from democracy towards autocracy.

    The last two Superintendents–Adamowski and Kishimoto–were not in the least beholden to “local stakeholders”–unless you count corporate businessmen, wealthy philanthropists, big time politicos and education industry hustlers as local people. The idea of attending to grass-roots community concerns was mostly irrelevant to Adamowski and Kishimoto: they served at the pleasure of the board, and the board, as partly appointed by the Mayor, does not have to take the public into account when making decisions. With this horrendous system you don’t get education policy, you get politics–typical American politics, with all the usual themes: money, mendacity, deceit, , etc, etc. The board has to keep the Mayor happy and the Mayor has to keep the Hartford power elite and politicos happy. And that’s it. End of story. In this regard, it shows how hopeless Kishimoto must be, that even with this winning (cheating) hand she wasn’t able to win the game. But she, like Adamowski, did succeed in inflicting a lot of harm on Hartford public schools.

    The Clark debacle is proof positive that corporate reformers are entirely hostile to local democracy when things don’t go their way. They love parent and community involvement when locals are calling for a charter school, but they despise the same if the locals don’t want to go in a corporate direction. Malloy and Pryor have used the Turnaround Process in a particularly cynical way: they have more or less said by their actions: choose the option we want and you can call it your own, otherwise we will choose the option we want and you won’t have any say. It should be obvious by now that Malloy and his gang have no real interest in the children in so-called “failing schools.” Their primary concern is to privatize schools and further enrich powerful and wealthy people, the same people who stand behind charter schools and the educational services industry. These were the people who lobbied hard for education reform in Connecticut and they got what they wanted in Malloy’s obnoxious legislation.

    The Clark situation is tragic for community. Privatization is death to local democracy, but it is also very harmful to political and moral solidarity in the community. Privatization inevitably involves winners and losers, so it is always divisive. It goes without saying that poor urban communities that are largely powerless do not need to be divided against themselves, for the simple reason (well known to all autocrats) that a divided people is easier to rule. The colonial and racist dimension of corporate school reform is becoming clearer every day.

    • Rafael G

      I love this. It s the truth. The stone cold truth. Like what i said earlier about us losing our democracy. This is it here folks. These are the failing ideologies that always precede a revolt, when the people realize their governments no longer serve them. Th at they are as fodder to hungry political leaderships who would rather starve and miseducate the masses than make th e society stronger. We need to picket city hall or something.
      Sorry guys this is the most ive posted in some time, ive been following but stepped back from posting a bit, this situation however has raised my ire substantially and Its about time I contact some people ive withheld trying to contact for sometime now about this hartford board of reform.
      Before they tear it all down and leave it for th e next candidates to clean up while the formers enjoy the benefits of having betrayed their people namely the constituents

  • Guest

    Mayor Segarra you faithful little lap dog… A little Mir Jafar you are.

  • Rafael G


    It would appear the clark parent who posted the other day was actually in favor of friendship, I guess I should have not assumed any thing and looking back the comment itself was very neutral. I just hope that the board and the SDE continue to be straight shooters with you guys…and continue to work with you on fixing the school TOGETHER. If not, im sure this page will still be here…let us know how it goes

    Yes its 2am and im still looking into this…guess I should go draw something…