Following two months of vacancies, the New Haven Board of Education will soon have a full complement of members.
On Monday, Harp tapped former two-term Ward 15 Alder Joseph Rodriguez to join the New Haven Board of Education to fill the final vacancy on the seven-member school board. But before Rodriguez can assume his position on the board of education, the New Haven Board of Alders must approve his appointment, with a vote that should take place during the board’s public meetings over the next few weeks, according to mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer.
“Mayor Harp has worked with [Rodriguez] before, and knows of his commitment to the city,” Grotheer said. “She is comfortable with his familiarity of issues in New Haven.”
Rodriguez was first elected to represent Fair Haven on the New Haven Board of Alders in 2008. In 2011, Rodriguez left his position in city government for Hartford, to work in the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, D-Conn. Rodriguez also served in Harp’s administration as a liaison to the Board of Alders from 2014 to 2016.
Grotheer said Rodriguez’s past positions have allowed him to build experience in public education, in terms of its funding, staffing and accountability. In addition, Grotheer said, Harp is “enthusiastic” about Rodriguez’s involvement with New Haven Public Schools, as he has a young daughter in the school system.
President of the New Haven Board of Education Darnell Goldson praised Rodriguez’s appointment, saying he had the opportunity to work with him throughout his tenure on the board of education, and that Rodriguez was always the “consummate professional.”
“I believe this is an excellent choice by Mayor Harp,” Goldson said. “I have every confidence that he will be a competent and the positive influence on the board of education.”
If approved, Rodriguez would be the mayor’s fourth appointee to the board of education. Last year, during a contentious superintendent search, the board divided into roughly two factions: the mayor and her appointees, and those who had been appointed by former Mayor John DeStefano. After the terms of Carlos Torre and Che Dawson ended last December, Rodriguez’s approval looks set to give the mayor more control over the board. Late last year, Harp’s third appointee, pediatrician Tamiko Jackson-McArthur, was confirmed by the Board of Alders and assumed her position this January.
Citywide Parent Team President Nijija-Ife Waters said she is not excited about the new board appointee, as she feels parents were excluded from the decision.
“I would like to know why they want to be BOE members, are they familiar with policies, education laws, charter and their purpose as state agents,” Waters said. “I am not sure how we will actually benefit as parents when we have no input.”
If Joseph Rodriguez is confirmed by the Board of Alders, his term will last through December 2021.
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