Hartford School Board Appoints Four School Principals; Postpones A Fifth After Union Concerns
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
May 21, 2013
HARTFORD — — The board of education confirmed the appointments of four school principals Tuesday night, including new leaders for Jumoke Academy at Milner School, Breakthrough Magnet School and Pathways Academy of Technology and Design.
But in a rare move, the Hartford Federation of Teachers publicly objected to a fifth administrator, Gerardo Heredia, who has been acting principal at America's Choice at S.A.N.D. School since 2011. The district sought to make that a permanent appointment; the board postponed a vote on him.
Union President Andrea Johnson said the union has filed numerous grievances against Heredia and has lodged complaints about "unfair labor practices." One area of concern, Johnson said, involves teacher evaluations.
"Unfortunately, teachers fear speaking freely at S.A.N.D. School," Johnson told the board, saying there was a "fear of retribution."
Heredia declined to comment when reached late Tuesday.
After Superintendent Christina Kishimoto asked if it was "appropriate" for Johnson to air detailed concerns — "I feel you're violating my constitutional rights," Johnson responded — the five board members at the meeting decided to postpone their vote on Heredia.
The other principal candidates received unanimous board approval.
Karen Lott will soon take over at Milner, a low-performing school on Vine Street that is completing its first year as part of the state Commissioner's Network. Lott, the principal of Brennan-Rogers School of Communication and Media in New Haven, will receive a $131,355 salary and begins July 1.
In the city's Behind the Rocks neighborhood, Breakthrough Assistant Principal Julie Goldstein will be just the second person to lead the 355-student magnet school on Brookfield Street, following Norma Neumann-Johnson.
Neumann-Johnson, a proponent of the Sheff v. O'Neill desegregation case who founded Breakthrough in her push for quality integrated education, is retiring after a 45-year career in the Hartford school system. Breakthrough practices character education and is the only public school in Connecticut to use mindfulness-based stress reduction, a form of meditation, in classes each day, according to Goldstein.
After the board's vote, Neumann-Johnson gave Goldstein a bouquet of flowers.
Goldstein told the board that becoming a principal was a personal "culmination." In 1990, right out of college, she started as a Teach for America high school language arts teacher in Los Angeles before becoming a social worker and, eventually, an administrator who was mentored by Neumann-Johnson. Her salary is set at $115,388.
At Pathways, a technology-focused, regional magnet high school, the new principal will be David Goldblum, now an assistant principal at New Haven's James Hillhouse High School. Goldblum replaces longtime school leader Steven Dellinger-Pate, who accepted an administrative job in the district's central office starting in July.
Goldblum, whose salary will be $120,657, will oversee Pathways' move from its temporary location in Windsor to a $40 million building being constructed near Goodwin College in East Hartford. The new school should be ready for students and staff by February 2014, Dellinger-Pate said.
The board also approved Jay Mihalko as the permanent principal at Noah Webster Microsociety Magnet School, effective Wednesday. Mihalko has been acting principal this year at the high-performing West End school where Tuesday's meeting was held. The district listed his salary as $113,930.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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