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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton
Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Norwalk Superintendent Search Sparks Angry Words

NORWALK, Conn. – Three search firms will be interviewed by the Norwalk Board of Education after a vote Tuesday evening to get the hunt for the city's next superintendent of schools under way.

A date for the interviews was not set, because many board members have other commitments this month. But it can't come soon enough for board member Sue Haynie. "I do feel there's an urgency," she said, pointing out it took three months just to select a search firm in 2009.

"Whenever you have an interim situation you've got a community that's on hold," she said afterward. "You've got your nonprofits, your funders on hold. Everyone is waiting for us to resolve this so we can move forward."

Others disagreed. "The patient isn't on the table dying right now," said board member Steven Colarossi. He wanted to delay the vote for two weeks to give the public time to weigh in on the proposals, which are posted on the board's website .

Lessons were learned from mistakes made in the superintendent search two years ago, he said. "The wrong consultant doesn't instill public confidence in the process, and it's a waste of taxpayer money."

The board will interview PROACT , Ray and Associates Inc. and Hazard, Young and Attea Associates . The possibility of another firm was left open.

Hazard and Young should be disqualified, Colarossi said, because it plans to partner with CABE , which "did a disastrous job for us a couple of years ago."

"They were secretive," Colarossi said. "They didn't include us in their screening of the candidates. They all but admitted that they brought us one candidate just to show us how good all the other candidates were. They weren't honest with us about the other groups that they were working with."

Migdalia Rivas objected that the proposals are posted online only in English. "You have to consider the whole community, not just certain parts," she said. Rivas also said she didn't see why the decision was urgent because Tony Dadonna has been appointed as interim superintendent. "We do have someone who is not going anywhere tomorrow," she said.

She then told Haynie, "I attended the convocation, I really didn't see you there as well. I was looking for you, too."

Mike Barbis took exception to the remark. "You know, Migdalia, your nasty comments, just drop it will you? It's rude," he said.

Board member Mike Lyons said there is a lack of appreciation for board members' efforts. "One of the things I have learned since I've been on this board is that the best way to get attacked is to go out and do some work on your own without pay to try to move things forward."

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