On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, the Connecticut State Board of Education (SBE) acted on a post-investigation recommendation from the Commissioner of Education (Commissioner) to dismiss the complaint filed in July of 2015 by members of the Canaan Board of Selectmen and the local Canaan Board of Education (Canaan).  The complaint was originally filed in May of 2015 with Region #1 Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain, who, as found by the SBE’s investigation, failed to respond to the complaint.  Having received no response by mid-July of 2015, the complaint was forwarded to the Commissioner.   

While we are disappointed by the decision of the SBE to dismiss the complaint after a lengthy investigation, we are heartened that this complaint was investigated because that investigation forced Region #1 to modify the previous new joint agreement (Agreement) that had been approved and signed by all the local boards of education except for Canaan, which at least brought the document into compliance with statutory requirements.  Absent these actions to correct the Agreement taken by Region #1 after the complaint was ignored by the Superintendent, it is highly unlikely that the SBE would have looked as favorably on the status of Region #1.

If the complaint was not filed, the Agreement currently in place would have looked much different.  It should be noted that it was only after the complaint was filed, ignored by the Superintendent and an investigation underway by the State that the Region #1 actually made substantive changes to the Superintendent’s contract and Agreement.  Earlier versions had a committee of the Region #1 Board (the ABC Committee), which has no authority or power to act or bind the local boards, serving as the sole employer of the superintendent, while the local boards of education, whose towns pay for the position of superintendent, had no say in choosing the superintendent or establishing the employment relationship with the superintendent.  Many of the numerous inconsistencies and failures to meet statutory directives that were originally part of the Agreement and contract would have remained.  The filing and processing of the complaint have also lead to a re-thinking of how the Boards of Education 7000 policy series would be structured.

Since the SBE determined that the particulars of the Agreement did not implicate the educational interests of the State, the propriety of three objections to the Agreement remain unanswered by the SBE’s decision:  1. allowing the ABC Committee, a committee of only the Region #1 Board, the power to determine one finalist in a superintendent search, instead of offering several for consideration by the various boards of education in Region #1;  2. providing equal, instead of proportional, payment for the salary and benefits of the superintendent as required by the special act and the subsequent statutory amendments that created Region #1; and  3. leaving the authority of continuing the employment and benefits of the superintendent in the hands of a committee of the Region #1, rather than in the hands of the boards for whom the superintendent works.   

Over the next number of weeks there will be discussion to determine what our next step will be in relation to our concerns regarding this matter.


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