Retired teacher and former Norwalk City Schools board member Bob Germond accused three of the current board members of having an agenda.
Germond was referring to the recent controversy surrounding assistant Superintendent Sue Goodsite in which the board turned her down for the interim school chief's job shortly after board president John Lendrum reportedly told her it was hers. Goodsite is under contract through the 2014-2015 school year as the assistant superintendent and director of curriculum and grants. She didn't attend Tuesday's regular monthly meeting.
The board unanimously voted Tuesday to nullify the actions of the July 29 special board meeting in which there was a 3-2 vote to hire Will Folger as the interim superintendent. Lendrum said there were "potential irregularities" -- specifically that the announcement of the July 29 meeting didn't indicate it was for the employment of public employees and after the district counsel looked over the situation, determined it wasn't "good practice."
However, the board voted 3-2 Tuesday to retroactively hire Folger on a one-year contract, which runs from Aug. 1 through June 30. Folger's contract is worth $110,000. Board members Steve Linder and Ralph Ritzenthaler voted against hiring Folger, echoing their votes during the special meeting. There was no discussion before the vote.
The same 3-2 vote also granted Goodsite five additional days for assisting Folger during the "new superintendent transition" and the hiring of Jeff Braumberger as the district technology coordinator. Those personnel matters also were part of the July 29 meeting. Braumberger's two-year contract is effective starting Aug. 1.
Linder made a late addition to the agenda Tuesday to have Goodsite hired as the interim superintendent and Folger as her assistant. At the beginning of the meeting, Lendrum said he wanted to "remind everyone" Folger didn't have an application that came through North Point Educational Service Center as the other candidates did.
"His application was handed to the board by Dennis Doughty," Linder said, referring to the man who retired July 31 after five years as the superintendent and 38 years in local education.
"He (Folger) had no references," added Linder, who said he didn't have time to research Folger or come up with any questions for him.
Linder's motion ultimately failed 3-2, with Lendrum and board members Kevin Cashen and Rob Ludwig making up the majority. Lendrum glanced at Linder during the possible time of discussion, prompting Linder to say: "I've said my peace."
Germond, of Hasbrock Road, addressed Lendrum, Cashen and Ludwig during the public participation segment. He accused the trio of setting the district back 20 years and called the Goodsite situation the most gutless and despicable thing he's ever seen.
"This is nothing more than a 3-2 board. Period," Germond said. "You're not here for the children. You have an agenda. ... You've lost a lot of credibility."
The retired teacher then alleged that teachers in the district can't trust Lendrum, Cashen or Ludwig because of the Goodsite situation.
"And neither do I," Germond added. "They've lost their confidence in you."
Lendrum and Ludwig declined to comment after the meeting.
"It would be appropriate for me to explain my vote for Mr. Folger and it is based on his experience, qualifications and skill sets to perform the duties of interim superintendent and this allows Dr. Goodsite to continue her necessary work in curriculum and testing," Cashen said.
Barb Widman, the executive secretary to the superintendent, told the Reflector before Tuesday's meeting she has enjoyed working with Folger. Widman has worked with four superintendents, including Folger.
"It's been great," she said. "They made the right decision. He's got a great background -- one that's going to help us tremendously."
Widman attended the meeting and said she couldn't have the board torn apart. She also came to the defense of Cashen, Lendrum and Ludwig.
"There's nobody more ethical than these three board members and I've been here for 14 years," Widman said. "I probably shouldn't participate in public participation, but I can't sit idly by."
She reaffirmed her support of Folger, whom she believes has the qualifications the district needs.
"I like Sue," Widman said, referring to Goodsite, but said there's "no comparison" between Folger and Goodsite.