New Haven Superintendent of Schools Harries announces resignation

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NEW HAVEN  - It is a buyout for another top New Haven official.

Two weeks ago, Police Chief Dean Esserman took a buyout. Now, Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries has done the same.

In the three years with Garth Harries at the helm, New Haven Public Schools have seen graduation rates rise nearly 20 percent, while chronic absenteeism dipped some 10 percent.

"Superintendent Harries was an effective superintendent," said Mayor Toni N. Harp (D-New Haven), who didn't shed much light on why Harries is out.

"There are times when there needs to be a parting of ways," said Harries. "This is one of those times."

Harp, who is also President of the Board of Education, wanted Harries to stay but, there was a clash of personalities that rubbed some the wrong way.

"Including inside the district, inside the board, outside of the district, parents, so forth," said Dr. Carlos Torre, a 21 year member of the BOE.

The plan is for Harries to stay on until Nov. 1, as long as an interim Superintendent is in place.

"With the board, we agreed that, right now, this decision is in the best interest of me and the best interest of the district," said Harries.

His contract, at roughly $200,000 annually, is due to expire in June of 2018. Harries agreed to a buyout that only pays him through the end of the current school year.

"It's designed as a respectful transition both for the district and for me," said Harries.

The BOE ultimately thought Harries was being given too much credit for district's progress.

"Advancements have been made for a long time," said Torre.

"Those students and families, who rely on strong public schools, deserve a district where the adults are collaborating, pulling in the same direction," Harries said.

If Harries does not have full-time employment come the end of the school year, his exit agreement calls for him to receive healthcare benefits for up to an additional year.

Mercy Quaye with New Haven Public Schools released a statement Tuesday:

The New Haven Board of Education and Mr. Garth Harries have mutually agreed that Mr. Harries’ employment as Superintendent of Schools for the New Haven Public Schools will end this fall, with a target of November 1, 2016 depending on the Board’s appointment of an interim and the facilitation of a smooth leadership transition.  The Board of Education will announce the appointment of an interim superintendent as soon as possible, and it will soon appoint a committee to launch and conduct a search for the new superintendent.

The Board of Education thanks Mr. Harries for his service to the New Haven school community.  During his tenure as Superintendent, Mr. Harries promoted student learning through a number of initiatives, including strengthening of early grade learning, expanding emphasis on restorative practices and other dimensions of social emotional learning and physical health, deepening the roles and opportunities for teacher collaboration and leadership, and implementing an intense focus on the most disengaged students and historically challenged schools.  Through this and other work, the district has seen gains in graduation, college going, and smarter balanced test scores – as well as an increase in enrollment and balanced budgets.  Mr. Harries and the Board of Education are committed to assuring a smooth transition of leadership to assure that the outstanding work of the staff and students of the New Haven Public Schools will continue.