Amid a stalled superintendent search and tension within the New Haven Board of Education, Edward Joyner, president of the board, was re-elected in a contested race, the New Haven Independent reported Tuesday night.
Joyner did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Tuesday night and Chief Operating Officer for New Haven Public Schools William Clark did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday night ∂about the vote count. Joyner was widely expected to win reelection; his challenger, 25-year-old Kate Adams, was backed by the Republican Town Committee but did not actively campaign for the position.
Joyner, the former vice president of the board, assumed his current position after the former president, Daisy Gonzalez, died unexpectedly in July. Alongside Darnell Goldson, Joyner holds one of the two elected positions on the board of education. The rest are appointed by the mayor and approved by the Board of Alders.
“I’m a lifelong educator and my only concern is the wellbeing of kids and teachers, as well as the people who work around them,” Joyner told the News on Tuesday afternoon.
Since 1970, Joyner has held many roles within the education system in New Haven. He was a teacher and assistant principal at Hillhouse High School, the principal of Jackie Robinson Middle School, an assistant professor and administrator at the Yale Child Study Center and the Executive Director of the School Development Program at Yale. Joyner said his long career in education and his ability to “call people out” if he believes they are not working in the best interest of the community qualify him to serve on the New Haven Board of Education.
Adams, who graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, is an education coordinator for Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services. She did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday.
Joyner said he was surprised to see her name was on the ballot since she did not campaign for the position.
“I was told that she dropped out of the race,” Joyner said. “I don’t know why her name was on the ballot.”
New Haven’s GOP Chairman and political science professor at SCSU Jonathan Wharton, who advised Adams at SCSU, praised her work at IRIS. He said Adams took many of his public policy classes and has a sustained interest in education policy.
“It’s not just something that happened overnight, this is something that has been ongoing,” Wharton said.
In June, Jamell Cotto, the family center director at Catholic Charities Centro San Jose Family Center, announced that he would challenge Joyner but later dropped out of the race. Mayor Toni Harp appointed Cotto to replace Gonzalez on the board of education late this summer. The Board of Alders approved Cotto’s appointment on Oct. 16.
In September, Joyner released a statement endorsing Marcus Paca for mayor of New Haven, praising his “practical approach to leadership,” management experience in small businesses and community development, as well as his previous service on city boards and commissions. Paca was handily defeated by Harp on Tuesday.
Joyner said he was not “opposed” to Harp as a candidate, but that he does not agree with her policies and priorities on education. Joyner said he supports an all-elected board, and disapproves of the mayor serving in a leadership position on the board of education.
In January 2017, Harp announced she would not seek another term as board of education president, a position she was elected to in September 2015. Harp still sits on the board.
“That’s a conflict. You’re responsible for spearheading the process on the education side and then, on the other side, you’re responsible for recommending [individuals to the board of education] to the board of alders,” Joyner said.
Joyner has presided over a school board that has faced delays because of tension between members. The New Haven Public School System has been without a permanent superintendent since Garth Harries left the position in November 2016, and the search for a new superintendent has dragged on for months.
In September, Hazard, Attea, Young & Associates, the executive search firm hired to assist the city in its search for a new superintendent, decided that no candidates were worthy of a second interview. Local residents also complained that none of the semifinalists were from New Haven.
Joyner said he wants to see a comprehensive district plan to improve student’s performance and social development. He said he also hopes the next superintendent has the qualifications and experience to run a school district that is predominantly poor and minority.
Joyner was first elected to the board of education in 2015.
Isabel Bysiewicz | firstname.lastname@example.org