Vaibhav Sharma

Madeline Negrón — a former Director of Education for New Haven Public Schools and current interim deputy superintendent at Hartford Public School — is slated to take over as NHPS superintendent in September. 

On April 13, elected Board of Education member Darnell Goldson told the News and the New Haven Independent that Madeline Negrón had been chosen by the district’s Superintendent Search Committee as the next superintendent for the district of roughly 19,000 students. If confirmed, Negron would be the first Hispanic superintendent in the history of a district that now has a plurality Hispanic population. 

After the Personnel Search Committee voted to select Negrón as superintendent, they authorized NHPS’ counsel to negotiate a contract. Goldson said that the contract has been negotiated and is slated to be presented at the Board of Education’s special meeting on Wednesday — when the Board of Education had planned to announce Negrón’s appointment.

“We have followed a long and rigorous process to come to this decision, and this is a decision I stand by,” Goldson told the News.  

Goldson, who is a member of the Superintendent Search Committee, decided to release the information before it was officially made public by the committee or the Board of Education. 

He told the News that he believes this move was necessary so that both Negrón and stakeholders had time to be informed before the announcement and ratification of her contract occurred on Wednesday. 

“There’s no reason for secrecy,” Goldson told the News. “I’m a true believer of transparency. … I can not in good conscience support keeping something secret that’s been the worst kept secret in New Haven.” 

According to Goldson, the Board of Education and district have followed a process that began through the employment of McPherson and Jacobson as the headhunting firm for the search. Teachers, parents, students and other community members were invited to share their thoughts on the new superintendent. 

Board of Education president Yesenia Rivera did not respond to requests for comments to confirm the identity of the new Superintendent or the matter that will be voted on during the Wednesday meeting.

“By all means cite Mr. Goldson as your source,” New Haven Public Schools Spokesperson Justin Harmon told the News. “A vote such as Wednesday’s is not pro forma, and the board as a whole has chosen to respect the process it put in place.” 

Board of Education Vice President Matt Wilcox neither confirmed nor denied Goldson’s announcement, telling the News that as a member of the personnel search committee he had agreed to a process that prevents him from commenting on the superintendent that has been selected. 

The members of the Search Committee are not listed on the New Haven Public Schools website, nor are the names of members or stakeholders involved in the decision making process listed on the website designed to provide members of the public information on the superintendent search process. 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker stressed his faith in the selection and his excitement for the district’s new leadership.

The search process for a new superintendent has been a thoughtful and deliberative one that has spanned several months, considered many well-qualified candidates, and included input from students, parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, and other community members,” Elicker told the News.  

Dave Cruz-Bustamante, a Board of Education representative and senior at Wilbur Cross High School, expressed less optimism in the selection of a new superintendent. Regardless of who holds the position, he said he hopes they consult parents and New Haveners more to better the city’s education system. 

“To me, revitalizing this school district is much bigger than appointing a new big-wig at the top,” he said. “I hope that the new superintendent is willing to listen and act as a co-conspirator in the demands and frustrations of students, teachers, and community.”

Cruz-Bustamante added that he has faith in the board’s selection and trusts this decision was made with “honesty” and “integrity.” 

The current superintendent, Iline Tracey, informed the community of her decision to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 school year after almost 40 years of service in New Haven Public Schools. 

Tracey announced her retirement around a cloud of controversy with the district releasing test scores that showed a precipitous decline during the pandemic and a debate over phonics-based education. 

Tracey was originally tapped in 2019 to serve as an interim superintendent after her predecessor, Carol Birk’s, contract was bought out by the Board of Education. Tracey was confirmed as non-interim superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Carol Birks resigned mid-year following controversy related to her management style, which relied heavily on consultants and data analysts. Birk’s stint was also tainted by claims that she tried to hide payments to strategic planners through the use of purchase orders. 

Throughout the current process to choose Tracey’s successor, community members have raised concerns, including at the Board of Alders’ Education committee, about the process not sufficiently including the voices of the community. 

“There were people in the community that felt that the process was not inclusive of I was more than willing to fight for their cause,” Goldson told the News. “I was never approached by any groups. I didn’t see any groups arise to oppose the process.” 

With looming teacher shortages, absenteeism, rising student homelessness and low test scores, Madeline Negrón faces an uphill battle. 

The superintendent’s office is located at 60 Putnam Avenue. 

Yash Roy covered City Hall and State Politics for the News. He also served as a Production & Design editor, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chair for the News. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, he is a '25 in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs.
Nati Tesfaye is a sophomore in Branford College from East Haven, Connecticut. He covers business, workers and unions in the city of New Haven. Last year, he covered housing and homelessness for the News.