Lawyers for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto are demanding that the board of education give the schools chief a $15,450 bonus, despite the board's recent annual review that was largely critical of her performance.
Kishimoto is eligible for up to $30,000 in performance pay annually under her three-year contract. After last month's evaluation, which gave Kishimoto a poor 56 percent rating, the board informed her that she would not receive a bonus this year.
Jeffrey Mirman from the Farmington law firm of Levy & Droney stated in a letter Tuesday that Kishimoto met with board Chairman Matthew Poland and Mayor Pedro Segarra in the past week to "improve communications and to establish a cooperative relationship."
"Nevertheless," Mirman wrote to Hartford's corporation counsel, "Dr. Kishimoto was recently advised that the board does not intend to honor its obligations under its contract of employment."
Mirman outlined the performance goals that Kishimoto agreed to in December. Forty percent of the review was based on qualitative measures in which the board rated her from 1 to 5.
Kishimoto received a 1.6 on the topic of board relations; 3.0 on educational leadership; 2.4 on engaging stakeholders; and 3.3 on strategic organizing of resources.
Because Kishimoto received 10.3 points out of 20, Mirman argued, she is entitled to $6,180 for the qualitative goals, out of a possible $12,000.
The remaining 60 percent of the evaluation allowed for up to $18,000 in bonus pay and was based on whether Kishimoto met quantitative targets for student achievement. She failed to reach many of the goals in areas such as third-grade reading and all 10th-grade subjects.
"Kishimoto achieved 30.91 points out of a possible 60 points" and thus should receive $9,270 for those targets, Mirman stated.
"Accordingly, demand is made upon the board to pay her the performance pay ... of $15,450."
The city's deputy corporation counsel, L. John Van Norden, responded in a letter Thursday that "the board does not agree that the superintendent has demonstrated a level of performance required to be eligible for performance pay."
"She's entitled to the performance bonus, she's met the criteria in the contract and we think they're wrong," John Droney, a lawyer for Kishimoto, said Friday. "I know there were disagreements that we thought were being resolved, but there's no need to be mean-spirited about it."
The board lambasted Kishimoto at a public meeting Sept. 25 over the issue of communication. Since February, when five new people joined the nine-member board as mayoral appointees, including Segarra, the board has complained about not receiving enough information from Kishimoto on contracts and other matters to make board decisions.
The evaluation was released publicly on Sept. 26. Kishimoto defended her performance and contended in a letter to Poland that the board's review was not "an accurate reflection of the work done under my leadership."
Poland said Friday that "the board feels incredulous that this happened, that there was this request for a bonus, given the evaluation. And we are working on moving forward, and have plans to move forward together, but the board is not going to change its position on the bonus."
Kishimoto has been on the job for 16 months. Her base salary is $231,000 for the second year of her contract, up from the $205,000 that she received in 2011-12. She also gets an extra $10,000 to be used toward retirement and a monthly $400 car allowance.
Her contract also states that Kishimoto "shall" be eligible for a bonus, with the amount "based upon the achievement of mutually-agreed upon performance criteria."
"She's received significant compensation unrelated to the bonus," Poland said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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