To a standing ovation, Leslie Torres-Rodriguez was unanimously approved for the position. She told the crowd of mostly her own supporters that she is "proud, encouraged and humbled" to take on the role being a product of Hartford Public Schools herself.
"There's a level of perseverance that our students can now relate to," she told FOX61. "We're working with students that often feel defeated that they don't feel connected to those that are around them in school, so I bring that other lens. We have great teachers here that are committed to our students, but it's also great for students to identify with people who look like them and who are and were from where they are."
Torres-Rodriguez had been serving as acting superintendent since December, after Dr. Schiavino-Narvaez announced her resignation.
Prior to that, Torres-Rodriguez was a district assistant superintendent overseeing 11 schools.
She said there are significant challenges ahead including budget cuts and school consolidation.
"I'm looking forward to continuing the work and doing it in the best interest of our children," said Torres-Rodriguez.
A selection committee announced her as their choice on Friday. However, some on the committee felt they had not been included in the process.
E-mails obtained by our media partners at the Hartford Courant state show that when the committee made the announcement, one school board member said some people on the committee did not participate in the selection process. That board member sent her concerns to the search committee and board of education members.
Another finalist in the running for superintendent was Tim Sullivan, an administrator with the Capitol Region Education Council. Despite the controversy, he asked his supporters not to protest, but to unite behind Torres-Rodriguez. Mayor Luke Bronin also voiced his agreement to unite behind the new school leader.
From here, the board of education chairman will now negotiate an employment agreement and start datewith Torres-Rodriguez on behalf of the board.