After $400,000 investigation, is the Stamford school board more ‘respectful’?

STAMFORD – Following an investigation and report – which value the town round $400,000 – into the conduct of the Stamford Board of Training, a number of adjustments had been adopted by the board, leading to a extra “collegiate” and “respectful” physique, stated one college worker.

These had been the phrases utilized by chairman Jackie Heftman throughout a gathering of the Board of Representatives’ Training Committee Thursday night time.

Heftman was earlier than the committee to current the adjustments she helped implement based mostly on the report, which stemmed from a criticism filed by Superintendent Tamu Lucero final 12 months, wherein she alleged that board members bullied and intimidated her and members of her cupboard. .

Day Pitney, the regulation agency employed by the town to research the criticism, ended up producing a 60-page report backing most of the allegations, with suggestions on the best way to facilitate relationships.

Heftman offered the Board of Representatives with a listing of adjustments that had been applied in response to statements made throughout a March 7 Council of Representatives assembly that implied the college board did nothing with Day Pitney’s suggestions.

The checklist introduced by Heftman consists of higher integration of recent members, with data introduced to every on the board retreat assembly; the appointment of two members of the board to assist resolve procedural points; and assigning mentors to new members.

Heftman has additionally made adjustments to the way in which it operates, as he stated he calls board members on to resolve any points that come up at conferences. She stated she additionally commonly checks in with the chairs of the varied board committees to assist them with agenda gadgets. Heftman additionally launched an agenda merchandise for every of the board’s common month-to-month conferences, the place members can state what they thought went nicely through the conferences and what did not.

“If I see that there are points which are occurring amongst board members or points that come up at a board assembly, I’m following up the subsequent day with a telephone name and making an attempt to resolve the problems nicely earlier than they turn out to be one thing that spreads. hand,” stated Heftman.

One other of the adjustments was one which the board was unable to manage, because the November election shook the composition of the elected panel. Former members Jackie Pioli and Mike Altamura, each of whom are sometimes at odds with administration, had been changed by new members Ben Lee and Joshua Estes.

Heftman stated the brand new make-up labored nicely.

“I feel this board has a very totally different tone to the final one and I actually imagine there’s mutual respect and civility between the board now,” she stated. “I hope this stays, however we are going to proceed to work on it in our retreats and we are going to proceed to speak about it.”

Lucero, who attended the assembly, agreed.

“We’re in a very good place proper now,” she stated.

Consultant Megan Cottrell, chair of the Training Committee, stated the rising discord amongst college board members through the COVID-19 pandemic is just not distinctive to Stamford.

“There’s a number of pressure on boards throughout the nation,” she stated. “I’m glad that no less than we try to take proactive steps to right previous errors.”

She praised Heftman for following up on calls to members when issues come up.

“I feel that is in all probability a very powerful factor you are able to do,” she stated.

The adjustments made to the college board had been nicely acquired by Training Committee members, however the Day Pitney report got here in for sturdy criticism from members of the three elected boards.

Metropolis officers stated they had been shocked by the value, and a few questioned if the costly enterprise was vital. Regulation division officers, then again, argued that the investigation probably saved the town from paying thousands and thousands of {dollars} in damages.

Final month, the Council of Representatives voted 26 to 10, with two abstentions, to allocate $350,000 from the town’s contingency reserve to the authorized division. The request did not garner sufficient assist when it was introduced to the identical council in March, however Mayor Caroline Simmons argued that denying the funds may put the town in a authorized place.

Throughout Thursday’s assembly, Consultant Don Mays stated he was “shocked and disillusioned” by what he learn within the report and even apologized to Lucero.

“I am really disillusioned that a few of our elected officers behaved so badly,” he stated. “I am sorry you had been subjected to this.”

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