The Board of Education convened for a special session on Wednesday evening to terminate the contract of New Haven Public Schools’ Superintendent Carol Birks.
The board voted to consolidate negotiating powers in the President of the Board of Education, Darnell Goldson. Assistant Superintendent Iline Tracey will tend to administrative duties within the school district while the two parties finalize terms for terminating Birks’s contract.
“At the end of the day, Dr. Birks and the board decided that it was in the best interest of students, teachers, families and the district for us to separate,” Goldson told reporters after the session. “It is all of our failure, including me. So yes, I’m disappointed.”
Birks did not attend the meeting and did not respond to a request for comment.
An exit agreement between Birks and the board is expected to be signed within the week’s end. Birks’s departure will come in the wake of months-long criticism, with dissenters both in her staff, the Board of Education and the public.
In June, Birks proposed to eliminate 53 jobs in the New Haven School District, leading to protests both by students, faculty and community members. A June petition garnering over 1,300 signatures demanded that Birks be replaced.
The Board of Education rejected Birks’s proposal and voted unanimously to table the proposal. The motion asked the Superintendent to “work out a comprehensive budget mitigation plan that takes into account the needs and benefits of the students and the teachers in the schools,” according to the June 10 meeting minutes.
Another controversy immediately followed. New Haven Public School Chief Operating Officer Michael Pinto filed a report in July accusing Birks for creating a “hostile work environment.” According to the report, Birks threatened and screamed at Pinto over the phone on July 3. Pinto’s four-page formal complaint was supplemented by 19 pages of emails and notes.
The Board of Education convened for a special session on Sept. 17 and Sept. 24 to evaluate Birks’s performance, with this evaluation taking place during the public meeting and in private among Board members.
Goldson told reporters after the meeting that Birks would receive a sum between $150,000 and $200,000 in her exit package. WTNH-8 has reported that Birks will remain involved with the Board of Education in an advisory role until Nov. 1. According to the report, Tracey is expected to serve as Interim Superintendent while the Board of Education finds Birks’s successor.
Referencing Birks’s exit package, Goldson said he wants all Board of Education employees to feel they are treated fairly.
“We honor our contracts,” Goldson said. “It didn’t work out for her or for us, so we decided to separate. She got something, and we got something.”
Birks was appointed to the role of superintendent in December 2017 by a 5 to 2 vote of the Board of Education.
This is a breaking story. Check in later for more updates.
Nick Tabio | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the President of the Board of Education as Darnell Goodson. His name is, in fact, Darnell Goldson.