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Teachers’ Union Asks For Investigation Into Hartford Principal’s ‘Threatening’ Tweet

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HARTFORD — A tweet sent Wednesday by Steve Perry, the principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, has caused a backlash and prompted the local teachers’ union to ask the district and school board to investigate.

Perry’s message was posted after the city board of education declined late Tuesday to move forward with a controversial plan to turn over management of SAND Elementary School to Capital Preparatory Schools Inc., a nonprofit company run by Perry.

“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting,” Perry wrote on his Twitter account. “All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.” Perry’s tweet prompted negative responses from dozens of Twitter users and critics such as blogger Jonathan Pelto.

In an email sent to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and school board Chairman Matthew Poland, the teachers’ union asked for the tweet to be investigated “immediately.”

“From our perspective Steve Perry’s comments were very threatening to all parties who opposed, especially those who voted to oppose, his plan for SAND and Capital Prep,” wrote Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers. “The Board of Education should not allow any of its employees to express violent actions towards others.”

The Working Families Party also requested that the district take disciplinary action against Perry.

Hartford public schools spokesman David Medina said Thursday the district had no comment on Perry, and a call to Poland was not immediately returned.

Under the proposal, which SAND parents learned about only recently, Kishimoto sought permission to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with Perry’s organization to begin managing SAND and Capital Prep Magnet School starting in 2014-15.

Perry, a public speaker and author who has frequently lambasted teachers’ unions, said that the statement was “a metaphor about hard struggle” and called the ensuing controversy “troubling.”

“There’s no one mentioned, inferred or discussed at any point in the entire stream,” he said. “This is simply an attempt by some people to take the focus off the very important issue at hand, which is to make sure Hartford … gets access to greater quality education by any means necessary.

“It’s very, very sad to me that amidst all of the very, very real issues in education … someone’s talking about my tweets,” he said. “A metaphor. I could’ve said, ‘It’s going to be a bumpy ride.’ I was being irreverent. It was a joke.”

Perry said that the message was a general statement.

“It is not related to the vote,” he said. “It is related to an ongoing fight for kids’ rights.”

Read more of Julie Stagis’ story from the Hartford Courant here.

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