Yale Daily News

On Monday night, the New Haven Board of Education met and debated issues including the appointment of new members, the 2022-23 academic calendar and updates to the masking policy. 

The Board decided that the New Haven Public Schools System will continue to follow Director of Health Maritza Bond’s recommendation of masking within the district. They also approved the 2022-23 school calendar and the appointment of Monica Joyner, family member of elected BOE member and secretary Edward Joyner(D-1), as Supervisor of Mathematics in the district.

Board of Education member Darnell Goldson raised concerns about the appointment of Monica Joyner as Supervisor of Mathematics. Goldson initially said that he would oppose the nomination, although he eventually abstained from the vote. 

“I’m going to vote against this appointment not because this candidate may or may not be qualified for or highly qualified for this position,” Goldson said. “I have a fundamental problem with administrative positions being promoted with family members sitting on the Board… I’m not making any kind of claim that there’s any sort of impropriety here. But our ethics also state that if there is the ability for people to possibly see ethical issues there then that’s a problem.”

Mayor Justin Elicker pushed back against Goldson, saying that Monica Joyner had previously been appointed to an administrative position while Edward Joyner served on the BOE. 

Elicker added that tradition within the city dictates that the family member simply recused themselves from the vote. 

“New Haven is a small place,” Elicker said at the meeting. “There are a lot of positions [within NHPS] and to limit a family member’s opportunity for a new job is not fair. I don’t think it’s fair to that individual. And it’s also not in conflict with the ethics of the situation. Particularly with that board member recusing themselves, so I do not see an issue.” 

BOE member Matt Wilcox asked superintendent Iline Tracey about the methodology and process behind the appointment of Monica Joyner to the position, so that the community could be certain that there was no impropriety in the process. 

Tracey told the BOE and community that all ethical rules had been followed.

“There was extra scrutiny,” Tracey said at the meeting. “We wanted to avoid the accusation of favoritism and things like that, but I think that as I mentioned before, the 20 years of experience as a math teacher and the 10 years of administration experience for this New Haven High School graduate makes her the perfect candidate for this position.”

The BOE eventually voted in favor of Monica Joyner’s appointment with Goldson as the only member abstaining from the motion, while Edward Joyner recused himself from the vote. 

After the appointment, Monica Joyner expressed her excitement about the appointment, saying that she looked forward to serving the community. 

“I am eagerly looking forward to working with all of the outstanding educators in the math department, the administrators in our schools and with all the other curriculum supervisors to strengthen learning experiences for all of our students,” Joyner said. “We will have our ups and downs, good times and bad, but we will get through them all by putting the interests of our children first. The students of New Haven Public Schools deserve no less.” 

NHPS plans to continue support for mask mandate, while some BOE members call for more metrics on when masking can end 

Bond told the BOE that there was a 132 percent increase in COVID-19 cases within New Haven in the last week as well as a 100 percent increase in hospitalizations. Her recommendation to continue the mask mandate was motivated by the 40 percent of NHPS students who are immunocompromised and the less than 50 percent vaccination rate of New Haven children between the ages of five and 17.

According to Bond, one in 12 NHPS students has previously tested positive for COVID-19. She stressed the importance of continuing to be vigilant about COVID-19, citing the recent surge in cases in Europe. 

Goldson expressed concerns about continuing the mask mandate without clear metrics on when it would end. Goldson argued that the district would continue to have a similar number of immunocompromised students in years to come when COVID-19 will be endemic and it might be hard to rationalize continued mask mandates for immunocompromised students. 

However, Goldson added that he believed that the district should finish the year with mask mandates in place and that he would continue to wear masks in most situations due to a personal health condition. 

Other members of the BOE signaled that they would defer to Bond’s advice, and Elicker told the BOE that under his current executive order on masking, members of the NHPS community would continue to wear masks until Bond provided public health advice to the contrary.  

There was also confusion amongst BOE members after Connaway tabled a motion saying that the BOE would only make a change in the current masking policy after a recommendation was made by Bond. However, Elicker told the BOE that this move was made moot by the fact that his executive order was still standing and called for masking within NHPS. 

The BOE also approved next year’s calendar after the teacher’s union voted favorably for the plan. However, the board did vote to discharge part of the calendar deliberations to the Governance committee so that September could be designated as Italian Heritage Month. 

The New Haven Board of Education meets every other Monday. 

YASH ROY
Yash Roy covers education & youth services in New Haven and is a P&D staffer. He is a first year in Timothy Dwight College and is from Princeton, NJ.