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Hartford Superintendent Responds To School Board's Critical Performance Review

By VANESSA DE LA TORRE

September 27, 2012

HARTFORD Superintendent Christina Kishimoto issued a statement Thursday disagreeing with the school board's performance evaluation that criticized her for issues ranging from poor communication to minimal student progress.

"I do not find it to be an accurate reflection of the work done under my leadership," Kishimoto wrote in a letter addressed to board Chairman Matthew Poland and released publicly through her lawyer.

Kishimoto also contended that the review "did not focus on students and their achievement, nor on my leadership skills, but on specific situations and adult issues." She added that incremental gains have been made toward her goals of closing the achievement gap and preparing city students for colleges and careers.

Sixty percent of the board's annual evaluation, released Wednesday, featured quantitative benchmarks that Kishimoto agreed upon last December. She received only 30.9 out of 60 possible points, failing to meet achievement targets in areas such as third-grade reading and all 10th grade subjects.

"The superintendent's review did focus on her achievement and her leadership skills, not on 'specific situations and adult issues,' whatever that means," Poland said Thursday evening.

In addition, at the request of Kishimoto's lawyer, John Droney, Poland released a self-evaluation that the superintendent submitted to the board this summer as part of her performance review. As with Thursday's letter, Kishimoto lists her accomplishments and initiatives.

Droney argued that the board's problems with the superintendent have been "exaggerated."

"They are based upon a belief by the board that they have not gotten enough information for their decision-making process," Droney said Thursday, "and the superintendent has agreed to increase her efforts to communicate better."

Droney compared Kishimoto's relationship with the board to one that needs time to flourish. In February, Mayor Pedro Segarra appointed five new members to the nine-person board, including himself, shifting the dynamic.

"They've only been dating now, shall we say, for six months," Droney said.

The board's evaluation gave Kishimoto a 3.0 rating out of 5 on educational leadership, commending her knowledge of education reform but listing numerous negatives, such as a high number of principal departures and concern that "limited course offerings and narrow school themes may diminish the overall quality of education."

Hartford's career-oriented academies have been a trademark for Kishimoto, who was an assistant superintendent overseeing school redesign before succeeding former Superintendent Steven Adamowksi.

The board also wrote, "The superintendent's management structure is overly complex and layered, thereby contributing to a weak, disjointed communication process that must be reviewed."

Kishimoto's take in her self-evaluation: "Multi-layering leadership structures create better-informed staff, consistency in expectations ...and help develop relationships among staff for improved work climate."

"We're not changing our point of view," Poland said Thursday. "The review is the review, but we now want to move forward... Every hour is precious in this endeavor because the stakes are so high."

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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