New Haven’s Board of Education set to vote on new superintendent amid protests


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– New Haven’s Board of Education set to vote on a new superintendent. The front runner for that job is drawing protests from some members of the community.

We saw one protest Sunday and another is scheduled for Monday night. Hundreds have also signed an online petition.

It’s been a year since Garth Harries left. Some are complaining how long it’s taking to find his replacement. Others are now complaining that the final decision is being rushed through without enough input from the community.Related: New Haven parents rally against plans for new superintendent

On Monday night, the New Haven Board of Education will approve one of three candidates: Pamela Brown, Gary Highsmith or Carol Birks.

In an informal straw poll last week, Carol Birks was the choice of 4 of the 7 board members. But Birks is the one candidate sparking protests from parents, teachers, and community organizers. There’s an online petition that has 846 signatures citing serious concerns about Birks’s goals, experience and approach. She has said positive things about a method of school funding that hands out money strictly based on the number of kids in each school, instead of assessing the individual needs of each school. Others are alarmed at Birks’s support for charter schools, which she voiced at a forum last week.

“I was there, I was shocked when she said, ‘We should not be afraid of charter schools, that we should learn from them.’ I was shocked,” said Fatima Rojas, a parent.

She was part of Sunday’s protest outside city hall. The Mayor is automatically on the Board of Ed in New Haven, and Mayor Harp is one of the four board members who voted for Birks in last week’s straw poll.

Protesters are hoping to change her mind, or one of the three others before the vote this evening. To do that they have another protest scheduled Monday night.

It’s at the Beecher School on Jewell Street, that protest scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

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