Parents hope New Haven BOE decides against hiring Hartford schools official

NEW HAVEN --  The New Haven Board of Education is set to select the next Superintendent of Schools Monday night.

But, some parents, students and teachers do not like the results of a non-binding straw poll the board took last week. So, they are speaking out at Monday's BOE meeting.

In a straw poll last week, the BOE chose a Hartford Public Schools official, which isn't sitting well with some people in New Haven because she has been affiliated with charter schools.

Dr. Carol Birks, the Hartford Public Schools Chief of Staff, was the New Haven Board of Education's preliminary choice last week. But, the fact that she's also a member of the Achievement First Charter Schools Board in Hartford, isn't sitting well with parents

"There's the sense that she might be more allegiance to those agendas than to our kids," said Sarah Miller, a parent. "They take resources away from our public schools and they are not accountable to the public in the way that public schools are."

The leader of Achievement First, a nonprofit which operates schools throughout Connecticut, is standing up for Dr. Birks.

"Dr. Birks is an incredible educator who has spent her career working to improve traditional public schools," said Dacia Toll, AF co-CEO & President, "To characterize her simply as a ‘charter school advocate’ is absurd."

"I'm okay with her saying that we should learn from charters, but what about we should invest in our public system education," said Fatima Rojas, who has children in New Haven schools.

"She (Birks) was the only candidate who understood the relationship between the city budget, the state budget and the federal budget and funding education," said Mayor Toni N. Harp (D-New Haven).

Harp was one of the four members of the BOE voting in favor of Birks.  Many parents said their choice would be Dr. Pamela Brown, who works in the Fontana (California) schools.

"To have a superintendent with broad experience, a black woman, who speaks Spanish, who can bridge the two largest demographics within the district," said Miller.

Monday's BOE meeting will determine who the next Superintendent will be.

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