Near physical confrontation erupts in New Haven school board meeting

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NEW HAVEN --  The New Haven Board of Education voted Dr. Carol Birks as the next Superintendent of Schools, but it's what followed the vote that sent community members out the door.

On Monday night, the New Haven Board of Education voted 4-3 to hire Birks as the new superintendent. Following the vote, a war of words between board of education members Dr. Edward Joyner & Darnell Goldson took place, due to a disagreement in the election process.

The two members weren't the only ones voicing their frustrations - the public also weighed in.

"I feel left out from the very beginning of this process," said Fatima Rojas, a New Haven parent.

Although a representative for parents was included in the superintendent search, Rojas, along with hundreds of others, preferred Dr. Pamela Brown but felt their voice fell on deaf ears.

"From day one, when we wanted to give ideas about what it will be in the criteria in selecting a superintendent, I was not able to see a real, fully, from the heart intent to include parents,” said Rojas.

Supporters for Birks claim she's perfect for the job.

"She was the only candidate who understood the relationship between city budget, the state budget and the federal budget and funding education,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

Prior to Monday's voting, Birks, the Hartford Public Schools Chief of Staff, was the New Haven Board of Education's preliminary choice. The fact that she's also a member of the Achievement First Charter Schools Board in Hartford didn't sit 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, stood up for Birks prior to Monday's vote.

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