Board of Education members on Monday reached an official consensus on an aldermanic settlement that would allow BOE member Daisy Gonzalez to continue serving on the board until December 2018.
The settlement, approved unanimously by the Board of Alders on March 21, permits all eight BOE members to retain seats on the board until the respective expiration of their terms. But while all eight members remain on the board until year’s end, only seven will be able to vote at any meeting. Per the March 21 settlement, one appointed member of the BOE will have his or her voting privileges suspended in two-week increments until Dec. 31. Mayor Toni Harp said since the board usually only meets once every two weeks, each appointed board member will only be suspended from voting at one meeting.
“The settlement agrees that at each BOE meeting we’ll have one of the five appointed members on leave for that night, so they won’t be able to participate, sit up [with the rest of the board] or have a vote for that night,” New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Garth Harries ’95 said at Monday’s BOE meeting. “It wasn’t what we set out to do, but at the end of the day, we are happy that the settlement resolves our mutual concerns over the tenure of the members.”
The alders alleged in a Jan. 26 civil suit that BOE member Daisy Gonzalez and the BOE defied the 2013 referendum to the city’s charter, which calls explicitly for a BOE comprised of seven voting members: the Mayor, two elected members and four mayoral appointees. Two nonvoting elected student members also sit on the board.
The November election of new BOE members Edward Joyner and Darnell Goldson, when only one then-member’s term was set to expire, resulted in an eight-member BOE. This compelled the BOA to vote on Dec. 21, 2015 to remove Gonzalez — widely regarded as the BOE spokeswoman for NHPS parents — because she was the most recent mayoral appointee to the board, having been confirmed by the alders on Oct. 20, 2014.
“The settlement agreement allows the Board of Education to operate smoothly with current membership for the remainder of the calendar year, after which the transition to a newly configured board will be complete,” city spokesman Laurence Grotheer said.
Goldson, who advocated consistently for the board’s compliance with the city’s charter throughout the litigation process, said that although the settlement is imperfect, it suffices in keeping with the law set forth by the charter.
Alicia Caraballo, the vice president of the BOE and a former NHPS administrator, said she is glad the issue has been resolved.
Gonzalez, who was present at Monday’s meeting, volunteered as the first member to take the week off from voting. Board members praised Gonzalez for her grace throughout the litigation process.
“The process has been tough on Daisy; she’s been more than willing to compromise all through this process and I’m glad we were able to work it out,” Goldson said.
Gonzalez’s term ends Dec. 31, 2018 — its original expiration date.