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Ex-California School Official To Oversee Connecticut Desegregation Settlement


March 03, 2009

The state Department of Education has hired a former superintendent from California to oversee implementation of the Sheff v. O'Neill desegregation settlement.

John Bayless, 58, was named executive director of the Regional School Choice Office on Feb. 23 and will lead the staff there as they try to reach more ambitious desegregation benchmarks for the region by 2014.

Under the agreement, the state must reach increasing benchmarks for the number of Hartford students who must attend desegregated schools — it reached the 19 percent benchmark this year, and must reach 27 percent in 2009-10.

The final benchmark, in 2013-14, is 41 percent. But even if less than 41 percent of Hartford students seek placement in racially diverse schools that year, the state will still be in compliance if it places at least 80 percent of those who apply.

The Regional School Choice Office opened in 2008 as one of the stipulations under the court agreement. The office is staffed with representatives from Hartford schools, the state and the Capitol Region Education Council, which was contracted by the state to implement the Sheff settlement.

The office administers applications for all regional school choice programs, including Hartford and CREC-operated magnet schools, as well as the program that allows students to attend neighborhood schools in a town other than their own.

"We're excited to have someone with his experience and education join the Regional Choice Office," said Christopher Leone, the school choice office administrator for Hartford schools. "It's important when looking at anything in education to take diverse opinions. Mr. Bayless is joining us from California, so it's anticipated he's going to bring some new ideas that should make the choice programs stronger."

Bayless will be paid $640 a day for up to 225 days a year — an annual salary of about $144,000. By the third year of his contract, Bayless will make $156,060. Under his contract, Bayless will receive up to $14,000 per year to purchase his own health benefits, and $6,000 in relocation costs. Bayless is contracted by the state, but is not considered a state employee, said Department of Education spokesman Thomas Murphy.

Bayless, who could not be reached for comment Monday, previously worked as superintendent for the Cabrillo Unified School District and the Yuba City Unified School District, both in California.

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