School board argues over interview process

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Tuttle-BuildingNAUGATUCK — The school board meeting grew contentious last Thursday when Secretary Glenn Connan said he wanted the full board to interview the three finalists for the assistant superintendent’s job plus one other internal applicant whom the committee did not recommend.

A committee set up by school administrators has narrowed the search down to three finalists, whom the Board of Education will interview privately at a date to be scheduled.

Two of the finalists applied from outside the borough school system, while one is an internal candidate, Human Resources Director John Lawlor said.

On behalf of the school board, Lawlor refused to disclose the identities of the candidates.

Connan said he disagreed with the decision, made by Tindall-Gibson, Lawlor and Assistant Superintendent Brigitte Crispino, to have the committee of 11 parents, teachers and administrators narrow down the finalists. School board member James Jordan is also on the committee.

“I think this is the decision of the Board of Education, not the select few,” Connan said. “This person could end up being the next superintendent.”

Of about 30 candidates that applied, two came from within the school system, Lawlor said. Connan said he thought the school board should interview both internal candidates and consider their past job performance and evaluations.

Tindall-Gibson, Lawlor and Crispino winnowed the initial applicant pool down to eight semifinalists, whom the committee of 11 interviewed late last month before recommending the three finalists to Tindall-Gibson. The superintendent met with all three and recommended them all for interviews before the full board.

Board member Diana Malone said she wanted to be on the committee that was to narrow down the finalists, but that she felt intimidated against asking to be on it after a conversation with Jordan.

Malone had asked whether it was proper that Jordan serve on the committee, given that his wife is a teacher. Jordan said he discussed the issue with Malone but did not yell or intimidate her.

Tindall-Gibson said he recommended Jordan, the chairman of the board’s finance subcommittee, to the search committee because the assistant superintendent is heavily involved in budgeting and seeking grants.

Connan said most of the people on the committee would be essentially choosing their next boss, which he disagreed with.

The point of the committee was to bring more expertise and objectivity to the process of choosing an educational leader, Jordan said.

“The only credentials we have as board members is nine people ran and eight people won,” Jordan said.

In the end, only Connan and Malone voted for a motion that the full board interview both internal candidates, and the proposal was defeated.