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Arciniegas Denies Her Vote Was Influenced

By Vanessa de la Torre

February 24, 2011

Milly Arciniegas had a lot to say in today's story about the superintendent search upheaval. As a parent representative on the selection committee to pick Steven Adamowski's successor, Arciniegas said she was angry about Mayor Pedro Segarra swooping in "like Superman" Tuesday and forcing the board's hand three hours before a vote to appoint Christina Kishimoto.

There's been a lot of whispering around the city -- why did Segarra wait until the eleventh hour to call for a national search, why did the board fold so quickly ... and now, what's going on with Arciniegas and her "deal" with the board? Did that influence her decision to go with the board and Adamowski's perceived favorite in Kishimoto?

On Thursday, Arciniegas acknowledged the talk. "There's always going to be suspicion" over the committee's recommendation, she said, adding: "This is not a secret, under-the-table thing."

Now for the "thing": Several months ago, Arciniegas and the Hartford Parent Organization Council (HPOC) presented a proposal to the board to start a parent-led, nonprofit called Parent University, modeled after this program in Boston. Adamowski expressed support for the idea, and $15,000 in seed money was approved a short time later.

The money was for a consultant hired by the board to work out the logistics of starting a Parent University here, Arciniegas said. Would Arciniegas like to be executive director of that nonprofit, once it gets off the ground?

"Yes, I do. I would want to," she said. "This is an idea from parents, this is an idea that we wanted in Hartford and we're working day in and day out on this .... We're working closely with the [district's] curriculum department to make this happen."

But she denied that Adamowski's support for the parent initiative had any influence on her committee vote for Kishimoto as the recommended successor.

"It's not a fix. At all. At all. They weren't in there," Arciniegas said, referring to the search committee's deliberations and her critics.

"They're going to be nitpicking everything because it wasn't their candidate. We weren't there to please people," she continued. "We were there to look at the best candidate.

"I have never, ever gotten paid from the district. Ever. This is an initiative and we needed the district's commitment on this," Arciniegas said of Parent University and the $15,000. "And this is how they committed."

In other news, an HPOC meeting planned for tonight at Rawson School has been canceled. It appears that parent-teacher organization leaders will instead gather tomorrow at city hall for a private meeting with the mayor.

Also, in an interview today, school activist Elizabeth Horton Sheff denied that she was lobbying for the other candidate, Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School Principal Tim Sullivan, when she spoke with Arciniegas about the superintendent search.

"I asked her who was she supporting," Horton Sheff said. "She didn't answer any of my questions ....

"I did ask her, though, was her support for the continuing regime, does that have anything to do with this Parent University that she's trying to start?"

But "for the record," Horton Sheff said, "I never did lobby anybody for anything. I didn't lobby for or against Kishimoto, I didn't lobby for or against Sullivan ... I don't have a dog in that hunt. I'm for the best interests of the kids."

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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