Alan Taylor, Malloy, New London, State Representative Susan Johnson, State Senator Don Williams, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Malloy, New London, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
Why did the Malloy Administration rush through hiring Steven Adamowski?
Why did Adamowski start in his new state position even before the State Board of Education voted to extend his appointment as Special Master for the Windham and New London school systems?
It turns out the answer, at least in part, can be found in the no-bid contract Adamowski was given in July 2011.
More than two years ago, with the support of Windham state legislators, State Senator Donald Williams and State Representative Susan Johnson, the Connecticut General Assembly authorized the creation of a Special Masters position with the adoption of Section 138 of Public Act 11-16.
A month later, without any open, competitive bidding or review process, Malloy’s Acting Commissioner of Education gave the Special Master’s job to Steven Adamowski by directing the State Education Resource Center (SERC) to hire him, a move that later drew a rebuke from the Connecticut State Auditors.
The contracted, signed July 25, 2011 provided that Adamowski would begin on August 15, 2011 and that, “The Agreement term shall be from August 15, 2011 to August 14, 2013.” The amount of Adamowski’s compensation was set at $450,000 for the two year period.
Fast-forward two years later…
By stuffing Steven Adamowski into a state position effective August 30, 2013, the Malloy Administration was ensuring that Steven Adamowski wouldn’t miss a pay-period despite the fact that his no-bid SERC contract ran out effective August 15, 2013.
Although Adamowski has been making $4,327 every two weeks for the past two years, Commissioner Stefan Pryor cut corners to put Adamowski on the state payroll effective August 30, 2013 even though the State Board of Education hadn’t even voted to extend Adamowski’s term as “Special Master.”
Was the State Board of Education taken for a ride or worse, did they know that a special deal with Adamowski was already a done deal and chose not to say anything?
On September 4, 2013, the State Board of Education, under the leadership of Board Chairman Allan Taylor, voted to extend Adamowski’s contract as Special Master. At the time, neither Pryor nor Taylor publically informed the State Board of Education or the public that Adamowski had already been hired by the state.
In fact, Pryor clearly implied, and his public relations staff confirmed to the media, that the vote would allow Pryor to hire (future tense) Adamowski as a state employee.
However, a set of state emails acquired this week reveal that Pryor’s staff was already working feverishly to get Adamowski on the state payroll long before the State Board of Education voted to allow Adamowski to continue his role as Special Master.
In an email dated Wednesday, August 28, 2013 (5:47 p.m.), for example, Stefan Pryor’s Chief of Staff, Adam Goldfarb, wrote to Malloy’s Office of Policy and Management saying, “the very time-sensitive durational position we discussed is heading to your approval queue. Could you please do us a favor and look out for it? Need to get it all the way done by Friday! Thank you, Adam.”
The entire episode raises numerous questions, but the most significant question of all is what did the State Board of Education know and when did it know it?
If would be disturbing indeed if the State Board of Education knew about this charade and remained silent.
Malloy, New London, State Budget, State Representative Susan Johnson, State Senator Don Williams, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America, Windham Malloy, New London, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
Since the Malloy administration gave Steven Adamowski his no-bid contract to serve as “Special Master” for Windham and New London, Adamowski has collected a salary of about $450,000 for himself and another $168,000 for his staff. Add in over $140,000 more for health and insurance benefits, $17,000 for travel and $29,000 for equipment and it starts to become clear just how much Connecticut’s taxpayers are “investing” in Adamowski and his “management style.”
Equally troublesome is Adamowski’s free hand with the state’s check book.
According to documents collected from a series of recent Freedom of Information requests, over the past two years, Adamowski has been on a massive spending spree of public funds in his capacity as “Special Master.”
In addition to ordering local officials in Windham and New London about how they should be spending their funds, Adamowski has his own stash of state funds to play with.
Over the past two years Adamowski has spent $132,000 on engineering projects and studies with a company called Friar Associations (There was no competitive bidding conducted related to those projects). Another engineering company, Gale Associates out of Weymouth, Massachusetts picked up another $15,250 courtesy of Adamowski.
The Center for Reform of School Systems, a consulting group out of Houston, Texas was given $39,000 in a no-bid contract to “provide 6 additional days of service for New London Special Master Grant Program.”
And the National SAM Innovation Project, a consulting operation out of the Jefferson County Public School System in Louisville, Kentucky collected $12,700 in another no-bid contract for services.
The law firm of Shipman & Goodwin received $34,000 (no-bid contract) and Adamowski dropped $12,370 on a company called Telogis for some refurbished computers, which came on top of his $29,000 equipment budget.
The organization called Leadership Greater Hartford was paid $34,000 to train Windham’s local school governance councils which is particularly ironic since Adamowski has consistently refused to include the school governance councils in key decision making, despite a Connecticut law that requires these local councils of parents, teachers and citizens to be consulted.
Another direct beneficiary of Adamowski’s spending has been CompassLearning, the Dallas based corporate entity that owns the rights to sell site licenses for the so-called Renzulli Academy. Despite very strong opposition to Adamowski’s push to open Renzulli Gifted and Talented schools in Windham and New London, CompassLearning was paid $22,500 in public funds for Renzulli Annual Site Licenses for ALL Windham schools.
The Connecticut Science Center, the publicly funded science museum in Hartford, which was supposed to “partner” with Windham’s new STEM Magnet School, was paid more than $90,000.
And Teach for America collected a finder’s fee of at least $35,000 from Adamowski, on top of the $33,000 that Teach for America received from the Windham School System. Wait, What? readers may recall that while TFA charges most cities $2,500 to $3,000 for each TFA recruit they place in a local school, Adamowski signed a deal with Teach for America that guaranteed them $4,000 per TFA recruit.
Add in another $72,000 for computer based “MAP Assessment testing” and tens of thousands of dollars that are simply listed as “teacher stipends” or “professional development” and we start to get a clearer picture of how the “Special Master” is spending taxpayer funds in a “special way.”
Perhaps the oddest expense of all are two checks totaling $125,000 that were written as part of Adamowski’s on-going effort to “persuade” the Town of Windham to purchase the propriety municipal finance software called MUNIS. Adamowski has been engaged in a similar effort to force New London to choose MUNIS as their software vendor.
It all bring us back to the key question of why Connecticut’s legislators or Connecticut’s auditors haven’t stepped in to put a stop to Adamowski and his no-bid, no-rules spending spree of our scarce public funds.
Malloy, New London, Paul Vallas, Pension, Retired Teachers, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Malloy, New London, Pension, Retired Teachers, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
On August 29, 2013, “Special Master” Steven Adamowski was completing his second year under a $225,000 no-bid contract that the Malloy Administration had run through the State Education Resource Center.
The next day, August 30, 2013, “Special Master” Steven Adamowski was a Connecticut state employee, holding the title of Durational Project Manager.
Same duties, different employer.
Steven Adamowski is so “special” that the Malloy/Pryor Operation didn’t even bother to post the position or follow any type of competitive or open hiring process.
The words Steven Adamowski and Special seem to go hand in hand.
Although only certified teachers are allowed to participate in the State Teachers Retirement System, a loophole in the state statutes will allow Steven Adamowski, who IS NOT CERTIFIED to teach or certified be a school administrator; to use his new job in the Malloy administration to add years to his Teachers Retirement pension.
Alternatively, Adamowski can use his new state position to guarantee himself full retired state employee health benefits assuming he works for the state for five years.
As retired school teachers and administrators know, Connecticut’s teacher retirement health insurance program is limited and getting more and more expensive.
While retired state employees receive more substantial and less-expensive health insurance, retired teachers are facing higher and higher premiums. Some retired teachers are coming face to face with the reality that they simply can’t afford even the more limited health insurance package that is available to them.
But thanks to Governor Malloy and Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski will not only collect a pension from the Teachers Retirement System, but if he continues to play his cards right he’ll get to retire with the state’s retired state employee health plan that could be worth $20,000 or more a year…..for life.
But as noted above, Steven Adamowski is used to special treatment.
- On the last day of the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2007 legislative session an amendment was added to a bill that allowed Steven Adamowski to serve as Hartford’s superintendent of schools despite the fact that he did not have the certification to be a superintendent in Connecticut. He held that position for five years. The only other person to benefit from that section of the Connecticut state statutes is none-other-than Paul Vallas (although they had to change the statute to try to fit his particular circumstances).
- Then, speaking of special treatment, in 2012, when Governor Malloy introduced his “Education Reform” legislation, Section 32 of Malloy’s bill sought to retroactively give Steven Adamowski Teacher Retirement pension credits for his time as Hartford’s superintendent. Following widespread publicity about the end-run to boost Adamowski’s pension, the legislature removed the special language.
- Meanwhile, it was about the same time that Adamowski got his no-bid, $225,000 plus benefits contract to serve as “Special Master” of Windham. His role was later expanded to serve as “Special Master” for both Windham and New London.
- The contract to serve as “Special Master,” included language that tried to allow him to tap into the Teacher Retirement System for his time as “Special Master,” but he was once again blocked from adding years due to his lack of teacher certification.
But now, thanks to the decision to make him a state employee, Adamowski is back in the driver’s seat, where is able to add years to his Teachers Retirement Pension or go for the more generous health benefits.
Whether you call him a Friend of Dan (FOD) or a Friend of Stefan (FOS) there is simply no question that Steven Adamowski is special!
Malloy, New London, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Malloy, New London, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
As if it couldn’t get any more unethical or bizarre, official State of Connecticut documents reveal that “Special Master” Steven Adamowski became a $162,000.09, Durational Project Manager on August 30, 2013….
Five days before the State Board of Education met to receive the Special Master’s report on his work in Windham and New London and to decide whether or not to extend his term as Special Master for the two communities.
As reported here in Wait, What?, the Hartford Courant and other media outlets, Steven Adamowski was given a no-bid $225,000 plus benefits contract through the State Education Resource Center two years ago.
On September 4, 2013, upon the recommendation of Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, the Connecticut State Board of Education meet and voted to extend Steven Adamowski’s term as “Special Master” for one year.
At the meeting, Pryor announced that Special Master Steven Adamowski would taking a $62,000 pay cut to become a state employee in the State Department of Education, rather than remain an employee of SERC, the State Education Resource Center.
The move by Pryor and the State Board of Education generated a post here entitled What the Hell is going on: Pryor and State Board of Education make Adamowski a State Employee (September 5th)
Yesterday, a follow up article was published entitled News Flash: Mystery solved: Pryor’s appointment of Adamowski as state employee will push up Special Master’s pension! (September 9th). This story reported that the move from SERC employee to state employee would allow Adamowski to boost his pension. The post read, “Well the mystery has finally been resolved and the answer lies in exactly a dozen words deep inside the existing state statutes! Subsection 26 of Section 10-183b of the Connecticut State Statutes defines the term “Teacher” for the purposes of the Connecticut Teachers Retirement System…And subsection (D) of subsection 26 of Section 10-183b provides that “a member of the professional staff of the State Board of Education” may elect to be in the Teachers Retirement System instead of the State Employees Retirement System. The phrase, “a member of the professional staff of the State Board of Education” is not limited by whether or not the individual is certified to serve as a teacher or administrator.”
But now comes even more incredible news.
According to the hiring papers filed with the state, Commissioner Stefan Pryor appears to have hired Adamowski BEFORE the State Board of Education even decided whether to extend Adamowski’s term as Special Master.
The hiring documents reveal a hire date of August 30, 2013.
It is not clear how Pryor received the legal authority to hire Adamowski to the $162,000 durational project manager job….
It is even less unclear how Pryor could have managed to hire Adamowski before the State Board even met to consider continuing Adamowski’s status as Special Master.
Malloy, New London, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Malloy, New London, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
At yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, recommended that the Board of Education grant Steven Adamowski a one-year extension in his role as the Special Master for the Windham and New London school systems.
And then, in a surprising and extraordinary turn of events, Pryor announced that Special Master Steven Adamowski would become a state employee rather than continue on as a consultant through the State Education Resource Center (SERC), SERC being the agency Pryor used to hand out over half a million in no-bid contracts to various companies that helped him write Malloy’s education reform bill.
As reported by the Hartford Courant’s Kathy Megan, Pryor and his spokesperson explained that Adamowski’s position “belongs” at the state agency. They also announced that Adamowski’s salary would be reduced from $225,000 plus benefits to $162,000 plus benefits in order to make it “comparable to other top-level salaries in the department.”
Wait, What? readers will recall that Governor Malloy’s original education reform bill included special language that would have retroactively added five years to Steven Adamowski’s Connecticut Teachers Retirement Pension.
With the addition of his time as Special Master and his ability to purchase out of state time, the Malloy/Pryor maneuver would actually have increased Adamowski’s annual pension by as much as $35,000 or more per year.
However, as a result of the publicity generated by the media coverage (see Wait, What? blog links below), Connecticut legislators removed the Adamowski gift from the final bill.
Now two years have gone by and, out of the blue, Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education announce that Adamowski will be no longer be a paid consultant but will become a state employee and is willing accepting a $63,000 pay cut.
Since Adamowski’s compensation package at the State Education Resource Center included a generous health insurance package, it stands to reason that this latest move is somehow related to trying to boost Adamowski’s taxpayer funded pension. However, it is not clear yet how the move would actually increase the Adamowski’s annual pension.
What is clear is that some extraordinary deal has taken place, but it is a deal hidden from public view.
Connecticut State Government continues to face a fiscal crisis and hundreds of vital state positions are going unfilled including critical vacancies at the state Department of Education.
In fact, the more one understands about the decision to make Adamowski a state employee, the more serious are the questions that are raised.
The Special Master position WAS NOT part of Commissioner Pryor’s infamous departmental reorganization plan that was approved by the State Board of Education in 2012. This means the position for Adamowski doesn’t even exist under Pryor’s operating plan.
Of course, any new senior position would have had to have been approved by the Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Administrative Services and the Governor’s Office. Yet no mention was made yesterday that such a process had been successfully pursued.
Even if a new senior position at the State Department of Education had been created, state laws and regulations would have required some sort of effort to post the position and there would have had to have been some type of recruitment and review process before the state position could have been filed.
But in this case, no position was posted and no recruitment or review process took place leading up to the decision to make Steven Adamowski a state employee.
Equally troublesome is that the decision to make Adamowski a state employee was clearly made prior to the review process that was required before the State Board of Education could extend Adamowski’s role as Special Master.
And all of these issues are clouded by the notion that this effort is somehow related to a renewed attempt to get around the General Assembly’s decision to keep the Malloy administration from boosting Adamowski’s pension by tens of thousands of dollars a year.
The Special Master system is an unfair and destructive program to begin with.
Steven Adamowski, in particular, has used the position to undermine the fundamental rights of students, parents, teachers and local officials in Windham and New London.
The Special Master program should be eliminated but instead, yesterday, the State Board of Education took made a truly unprecedented step to continue the Special Master’s role and reward Steven Adamowski for his failures.
The entire situation should leave the people of Windham and New London, ever very other state employee and every Connecticut taxpayer asking the question….What the hell is going on…?
Governor Malloy has an obligation to immediately step forward and fill in the missing pieces to this controversy.
If Malloy doesn’t reveal what is going down then the Connecticut General Assembly must act to force the Governor and his appointees to come clean on exactly why this inappropriate action has been taken.
You can find the Hartford Courant’s story about yesterday’s meeting here: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-state-board-education-0905-20130904,0,4111459.story.
And if you want to read more about Malloy’s effort to pad Adamowski’ pension, here are some of the earlier Wait, What? blog posts;
Pension, Pension, who wants a Pension – Steven Adamowski this is your lucky day.
A Hundred Thousand Dollar Plus Pension? The Adamowski Pension Controversy Part II
The Adamowksi Pension Farce: Part III
Heeee’s Back: Malloy Ally Adamowksi Continues to Maneuver for a Larger Teachers Retirement Pension.
The Adamowski Pension: A Story of one Education Reformers Sense of “Entitlement”
Alliance Districts, Malloy, New London, State Senator Andrea Stillman, State Senator Don Williams, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Malloy, New London, State Senator Andrea Stillman, State Senator Don Williams, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
As we know, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and faux Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas have been engaged in a wholesale effort to alienate Connecticut’s teachers, parents and the tens of thousands of voters committed to public education.
But whatever damage Pryor and Vallas don’t complete, we can count on Special Master Steven Adamowski to ensure that Governor Dan Malloy becomes unelectable.
When teachers, parents and other pro-public education advocates become aware of a series of recent emails authored by Special Master Adamowski, in addition to actions he has taken in Windham and New London, it will become increasingly clear that Adamowski and his defenders at the State Department of Education have continued to disenfranchise students, parents and educators. Adamowski has trampled the rights of teachers, parents and local officials through his unending and potentially illegal manipulation of the Commissioner’s Network and Turnaround programs.
Instead of protecting the public interest, Commissioner Stefan Pryor and his soon to be ex-turnaround officer, Debra Kurshan, have allowed Adamowski to consistently disregard or derail portions of Governor Malloy’s education reform law.
The damage could go well beyond Governor Malloy. If local legislators such as State Senators Don Williams and Andrea Stillman don’t act quickly to protect the interests of their districts, Adamowski’s dictatorial and counter-productive strategies could swamp these popular legislators.
By allowing Adamowski to overrule local officials and the input of local citizens, Senators Williams and Stillman risk suffering significant political fallout since they voted for Malloy’s education reform bill but then failed to ensure that the new law was properly implemented in their districts.
Local State Representatives Susan Johnson (Windham) and Ernest Hewitt (New London) could face similar problems.
According to emails and calls between Steven Adamowski, Debra Kushan and various local officials, the Malloy Administration inappropriately modified and contaminated locally developed turnaround plans in Windham, while equally disregarding required citizen participation in New London.
The resulting plans could inappropriately damage the collective bargaining process and would decimate what could have been locally-developed model programs for educating students in Windham and New London.
The students most at risk from Adamowski’s unilateral intervention in Windham and New London are the large Latino populations in both communities.
While the short-term political fallout will certainly damage Governor Malloy, local state senators and state representatives will also likely be blamed as teachers, parents and pro-education community activists become increasingly aware of the damage being perpetrated by Adamowski, Pryor and Malloy.
Check back in the coming days for additional Wait, What? blog posts that will examine Adamowski’s inappropriate efforts to undermine the Windham turnaround process, as well as his efforts to move New London’s school system in exactly the wrong direction.
Bridgeport, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Bridgeport, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adawmoski
Last week, in an editorial entitled, Bridgeport lessons, The Day newspaper added their voice to the discussion about the debacle surrounding Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s illegal superintendent of schools.
The Day of New London wrote;
“An embarrassing turn of events for Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education in Bridgeport should serve as a reminder that rules have to be followed, even in a rush to improve performance in a struggling urban school system.
In 2011 the state board took over the Bridgeport Board of Education, ousting the elected board with the acquiescence of a majority of the board’s members. The state Supreme Court later ruled the takeover was illegal because the state board failed to take a step mandated by law – providing the elected board a chance to obtain training to improve performance. Only when training fails is the state free to act, the high court ruled.
In the short time that the state-appointed board was in place, however, it named a new superintendent, Paul Vallas.
Mr. Pryor played a major role in bringing in Mr. Vallas to right the troubled Bridgeport school district. His record is an impressive one, having led reform efforts in the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans school systems. His salary befits the resume, $234,000 annually, and he has received much public support during his first 17 months leading the 21,000-student system.
But last Friday a Superior Court judge ruled Mr. Vallas is not qualified to continue serving as superintendent.”
The editorial concludes;
“The state board and Mr. Pryor, who allowed Mr. Vallas to cut corners in lieu of legitimate certification, share significant blame.
And most importantly the editorial ends by focusing on the growing problems with how Malloy, Pryor and Special Master Steven Adamowski are handling the New London schools.
The Day concludes, “Education officials in New London, a city where the state has also intervened, should watch closely. The New London school board is undergoing training. Expected soon is a report from state-appointed Special Master Steven Adamowski recommending what steps should come next for city schools…Whatever those steps may be, we suggest Mr. Pryor and other state education officials learn the lessons of Bridgeport and make sure expediency never trumps protocol.”
The full editorial can be found here: http://www.theday.com/article/20130703/OP01/307039978
Malloy, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Windham Malloy, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Adamowski, Stefan Pryor, Windham
Re-posting from June 28, 2013
As the Malloy/Pryor/Vallas illegal strategies for Bridgeport collapse —- watch out because the citizens of Windham and New London are under assault as a result of the fact that Special Master Steven Adamowski has joined Vallas in the land where laws don’t apply….
Last month, the Connecticut Education Association filed a complaint against Paul Vallas, the pseudo Superintendent of Bridgeport’s school system. The complaint focused on the fact that Paul Vallas was breaking Connecticut law “by not allowing teachers, parents, and community leaders to participate in the educational process” as required by Connecticut’s School Governance Council law (Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-223 j.)
As the CEA documents revealed, the Connecticut General Assembly and Governor Malloy claim to be strong supporters of School Governance Councils, the system that was put in place to ensure that parents, teachers and the community have a greater voice in local education decisions.
But as readers of Wait, What? know, Paul Vallas has systematically undermined the role of parents, teachers and anyone else who has the audacity to question his dictatorial approach to decision-making.
For example, Vallas’ predilection for signing no-bid contracts, co will costing Connecticut and Bridgeport taxpayers millions of dollars over the coming years.
While Vallas’ efforts to block community, parent and teacher involvement are well documented, knowledgeable observers note that Special Master Steven Adamowski has violated these same laws just as much, if not more than Vallas.
Adamowski serves as the Malloy Administration’s hand-picked “Special Master” for the Windham and New London schools systems. Not surprisingly, he received the $225,000-a-year plus benefits job via a no-bid contract that was run through SERC, the State Education Resource Center. SERC is the same vehicle that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education used to give no-bid contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to a series of out-of-state consultants who were retained to help Malloy and Pryor develop Connecticut’s “education reform” bill.
As observers have reported, Adamowski’s wanton disregard for School Governance Councils (and turnaround committees) in Windham and New London not only violates Connecticut law, but has systematically crushed the democratic rights of the citizens of those two communities.
Adamowski’s alleged actions include failing to provide parents, teachers and the community in both Windham and New London with the opportunity to review the fiscal objectives of the draft budget for the school and provide advice before it was submitted to the superintendent, the failure to allow School Governance Councils to participate in the hiring process of administrators, refusing to provide ample involvement in analyzing school achievement data and school needs relative to the improvement plan for the school, failing to allow School Governance Councils to assist local schools principals when making programmatic and operational changes for improving school achievement. And the list goes on and on.
In New London, Adamowski even mishandled the legal process surrounding the evaluation of the local superintendent by instructing the local board of education to evaluate the superintendent in executive session, six months after the end of the year, in direct violation of state statutes.
When the Connecticut Education Association filed their complaint against Vallas, Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Vallas’ friend and confidant, was quick to dismiss the complaint.
Considering the evidence against Adamowski appears to be just as strong, if not stronger than the case against Vallas, let’s hope parents, teachers and community leaders in New London and Windham will bring a similar complaint against Special Master Adamowski.
Of course, Commissioner Stefan Pryor will probably work just as hard to stonewall action against Adamowski, but at least the people will know that violating the law will not go unnoticed.
Bridgeport, Connecticut Education Assocation, Malloy, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Bridgeport, CEA, Malloy, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
For one thing, properly utilizing School Governance Councils is the law in Connecticut!
In addition, even Governor Malloy, at least when he was a candidate, supported the creation of School Governance Councils. In fact, he promised to expand their use.
In support of the federal government’s Race to the Top program, candidate Dan Malloy backed a 2010 Connecticut law saying that it sought to “engage parents in a meaningful way.”
In a response on the website On the Issues, Dan Malloy wrote, “The bill establishes local school governance councils that include parents and help create a sense of community that can make schooling more relevant to kids, and kids more connected to their community. However, these councils are only required for low-achieving schools. We should not stop there… While governance councils are one tool for improving achievement, they are still a top-down approach to decision-making that limit involvement to only a few engaged parents. My administration will create opportunities for all parents to be involved.”
Apparently the memo concerning his commitment to “create opportunities for all parents to be involved” didn’t make it to the desk of Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools.”
In fact, Paul Vallas’ unwillingness to follow the law and properly include parents, teachers and community leaders in the decision-making process has become so severe that the Connecticut Education Association has taken the unprecedented step of filing a complaint with the State Department of Education.
Although Connecticut law requires that School Governance Councils be utilized in school districts that are facing the greatest challenges, in Bridgeport, Paul Vallas appears either unwilling or unable to meet his obligation to include the community, parents, and teachers in the educational decision-making process.
The complaint against Vallas cites numerous situations in which Vallas violated the law.
In particular, the complaint charges that Vallas failed to provide Bridgeport’s School Governance Councils the opportunity to; (1) to review the fiscal objectives of the draft budget for the school and provide advice before it was submitted, (2) participate, as required, in the hiring process of administrators, (3) work with school administration to develop and approve a school compact, (4) be involved in developing and approving a written parent involvement policy outlining the role of parents in the school, (5) participate in analyzing school achievement data and school needs relative to the improvement plan for the school, (6) assist the principal in making programmatic and operational changes for improving the school’s achievement and the list goes on.
As CEA President, Sheila Cohen explained, “These are just some of the examples of the flagrant disregard Bridgeport Public Schools Superintendent Vallas has shown for School Governance Councils and state law.”
“School Governance Councils have a successful track record of engaging parents, teachers, and community members in important school activities and providing collaborative support to improve student achievement. These opportunities and the benefit of state laws must be afforded members of the Bridgeport school community.” Cohen Added.
In addition to his pattern of failing to appropriately include School Governance Councils, the CEA’s complaint actually cites a school board meeting at which Vallas said that there were priorities more important than governance councils.
After the CEA issued their complaint, the Hartford Courant wrote that, “Vallas, reached at his office late Tuesday afternoon, said: ‘We are really busy and we don’t have time to deal with this type of nonsense because that’s what it is. No one has reached out more than my team — to parents, the teachers, faith-based organizations, even the non-teachers..’”
Vallas made a similar claim to the CT Post saying, “We are in full compliance,” Vallas said, adding, “I don’t have time for this nonsense.”
How Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, handles the complaint will be interesting to watch since Vallas brags that he came to Connecticut because Pryor asked him to take over the Bridgeport School System.
Pryor’s action will also be closely watched because there has also been widespread discussion that Steven Adamowski, the Department of Education’s Special Master for the Windham and New London School Systems has also failed to properly include School Governance Councils in those two school districts.
You can read more about the issue at: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-teachers-union-complaint-0522-20130521,0,5097870.story and http://www.ctmirror.org/story/union-files-complaint-against-bridgeports-superintendent and http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Union-Vallas-snubbed-governance-councils-4536210.php and http://blogcea.org/2013/05/21/complaint-cites-violations-of-law/
Bridgeport, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, New London, Wendy Lecker, Windham Bridgeport, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, New London, Windham
The Washington Post’s education reporter, Valerie Strauss, reprinted the recent column written by Wendy Lecker on her blog, The Answer Sheet.
Strauss writes, “Are schools for “gifted” students promoting segregation? Here’s an argument that they are, from Wendy Lecker, a columnist for Hearst Connecticut Media Group and senior attorney for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity project at the Education Law Center.”
Lecker’s piece was first published in the Stamford Advocate and through the other Hearst Connecticut media outlets and then re-posted here at Wait, What? under the title “Gifted” to the right, “Special” to the left, the rest of you sit down and wait”
In addition, you can read my commentary pieces on the subject here at: Gifted and Talented Academy leaves Latino and Special Education Students out and Blessed are the Gifted for they shall inherit the earth. More