The Danbury Board of Education's 3,000 dollar mistake (take 2)

Thursday, July 21, 2011
Time: 5:16 PM

Members of the Board of Education discuss the appointment of Dr. Robert Rossi as Principal of Danbury High School
June 24 Board of Education meeting. Photo by ctblogger

I was on the interviewing committee...and this has nothing to do with the candidate, it has a lot to do with the process.

I think as leaders, at time point when the flaws came in this particular situation, that we should have stopped the process and started again.

-Comment from Board of Education member Gladys Cooper regarding
flaws in the principal search process, June 2009

I sat on the interviewing committee and my overall impression was that frankly, I felt pressured. I felt that it moved very quickly and it's such a critical position and I had hoped that we would go out again and continue the search. However, this has nothing to do with the candidate, I'm just talking about process.

...the board of education does have the option to interview the finalists candidates, and I really wished we [the board] had this opportunity to interview Mr. Rossi...I know it's impossible to go out again at this time, but I do wish we had more opportunity to interview Mr. Rossi.

-Board of education member Joan Hodge, June 2009

As a follow-up to my initial post regarding the questionable decisions made by the Board of Education that resulted in the hiring of DHS ex-Principal Robert Rossi, here's a post from the HatCityBLOG archives that examined the disagreement among members of the board over the entire principal search process.

HatCityBLOG July 2 2009:

Although Danbury High School has a new leader, lingering questions remain in regards to the principal search process used by the Board of Education and School Superintendent Sal Pascarella.

Although the school board's site visit trip to Arizona has certainly generated quite a deal of criticism, what I found most interesting had nothing to do with the amount of the trip or the number of people who went to Arizona, but rather the members of the board who were picked to go on the trip.

Unlike the school superintendent and members of the high school administration, the two members of the board of education who were picked to go on the trip, Democrat Rachel Austin and Republican Irving Fox, were not involved in any manner with the search process. What's more intriguing is that the board members who were involved in the search process, Democrat Joan Hodge and Democrat Gladys Cooper, happened to be the most critical about the process as a whole and expressed their displeasure on the record.

From June 24th's BOE meeting, here's video footage of comments made by Cooper, Hodge, Austin, and Fox regarding the search process.

With such a difference of opinion between those who went on the trip and those who didn't, after the meeting, I talked to one board member who went on the site visit trip, and one who didn't go on the visit (but was involved in interviewing the principal candidates) to get their perspective on the the process as a whole.

Joan Hodge: Process was "very poorly organized"

Citing various concerns she had with the search process as a whole, in my interview with board member Hodge, she expanded on her displeasure with certain elements of the process, such as committee members who shared confidential information with members of the public, and legitimate questions regarding the site visit trip to Arizona.

Irving Fox: Process was a cost savings for taxpayers

Taking a different approach on the matter, in my interview with board member Fox, the one of the two individuals from the board who went on the site visit to Arizona defended the trip and highlighted the cost savings achieved by the direction the board took in the search process decisions.

In the end, whether or not the search process used by the board was worth the savings to the taxpayers (and the public outrage) is up for the residents of Danbury to decide.

The dishonest one is at it AGAIN!

Time: 2:45 PM

Liar, liar pants on fire!

Will he ever be honest with the this load of crap.
The city's fire training school is one step closer to becoming a regional facility.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed legislation allowing state officials to designate the local fire training school on Plumtrees Road as a regional facility. But first, the proposal must be vetted locally.

A public hearing on the proposal would have to be held before the designation could be made -- a new process put into place by the Legislature this year.


Mayor Mark Boughton said Monday that while he is not opposed to the designation, he wants to hear more details about how the proposal would change the operations of the school.

"I want to understand what the implications are of hosting this kind of facility, particularly the cost associated with it and if there are any concerns residents who live near the school might have," he said.

Lets go through the HatCityBLOG archives to June 7 2011:
Currently at the General Assembly, there's a bill on the agenda that will establish a regional fire school in Danbury (HB 5489, LCO 8438). This proposal has strong bi-partisan support from state lawmakers including the Greater Danbury delegation and should be a no-brainer for passage before the end of the legislative session (which ends tomorrow at midnight).

At least the bill was a no-brainer until Mike McLachlan got involved...

Here's the portion of the proposal that our state senator disagrees with (highlighted in bold)...
Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2011) (a) The Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in consultation with the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control and the Connecticut State Firefighters Association, shall approve the establishment of any regional fire school. Any municipality seeking to establish a regional fire school shall hold a public hearing in the municipality where the regional fire school is proposed to be established and, after the public hearing, submit an application to the commissioner. Not later than sixty days after such application, the commissioner, in consultation with the commission and the Connecticut State Firefighters Association, shall approve or deny the application.

In layman's terms, if a municipality seeks to have a regional fire school, they MUST hold a public hearing where the residents who are effected by the school can have a chance to offer their input about the matter.

Sounds reasonable right? Well, not for McLachlan...

Our incompetent state senator wants to add the following outrageous amendment to the bill.
"Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2011) (a) The Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in consultation with the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control and the Connecticut State Firefighters Association, shall approve the establishment of any regional fire school. Any municipality seeking to establish a regional fire school shall submit an application to the commissioner. Not later than sixty days after such application, the commissioner, in consultation with the commission and the Connecticut State Firefighters Association, shall approve or deny the application."

In other words, McLachlan doesn't want the public to have any input into the matter.

Now, do you think McLachlan (Boughton's FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF) came up with this idea to propose an amendment that would squash the public hearing on the facility in DANBURY on his own?

Mark Boughton=the most dishonest mayor in the history of Danbury.

HatCityBLOG VIDEO: Planning Commission Public Hearing: Septic Treatment Plant Proposal

Time: 2:34 PM

Yesterday, the Planning Commission continued to hear arguments for and against a proposed sewage septic treatment facility in Beaver Brook Road. You can read a full recap of the meeting over at the Patch.

From yesterday, here's video footage of the hearing (I was unable to capture the first ten minutes of the meeting).

Happy (belated) anniversary

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Time: 4:30 PM

Six years, one day and still going strong!

LOCAL ACCESS VIDEO: Bethel Today 07.19.11

Time: 12:56 PM

The Danbury Board of Education's 3,000 dollar mistake (take 1)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Time: 7:57 PM

In honor of Danbury High Shcool controversial principal Robert Rossi's case of homesickness, lets take a look back at the series of criticism the Board of Education received by Republicans, Democrats, and members of the public over their hiring process that resulted in Rossi coming to Danbury in the first place.

I like to call this the 3,000 dollar screw-up mistake...lets begin.

News-Times, June 3 2009: Boughton and Common Council officials blows his gasket over BOE trip to Arizona

City officials were outraged this week to learn several school board members and school administrators traveled to Arizona -- on the taxpayers' dime -- to interview a job candidate.

"We don't need to go out of state to find qualified candidates to lead our schools," said Mayor Mark Boughton. "This represents a disconnect the (education) board has with our financial situation we have now and going forward into the future."

School Superintendent Sal Pascarella said five people, including himself, took the trip last Thursday to interview one of two finalists for high school principal.

Both candidates previously traveled to the Danbury for the initial stages of the interview process, he said.

Others on the two-day trip, which Pascarella said cost about $3,000, were two high school administrators and education board members Irving Fox and Rachel Austin.


Boughton said the money spent on the trip is important, but the message it sends is even more of a concern.

"I've said publicly before that I'm proud of the work the district has done to contain costs, but one trip to Arizona undermines all that," he said. "I don't think recruiting from outside the state demonstrates that you are committed to containing costs."

Boughton, who was a social studies teacher at the high school for nearly 14 years before entering politics, said he knows for a fact there were "internal candidates who were discouraged from applying" for the job.

"That's a problem," he said. "I know these individuals and I know they are capable of leading that school."


Common Council president Joe Cavo said he would like to get more information about the trip, but that sending five people to Arizona seems "ludicrous in this time, given how tight the budgets are.

"For them to take a trip like that is totally unreasonable. ... I'm sure there are other ways they could have acquired that information."

Council minority leader Tom Saadi said if a site inspection is a necessary part of the process, he could see sending one or maybe two officials to Arizona, but not five.

"It's completely unacceptable given the economic straits that we're in," he said. "Especially at a time when we are asking all employees, unions and department heads to look for cost savings. Ultimately, it's the city of Danbury taxpayers that will have to pay this bill."

June 2009 Common Council meeting discussion on BOE's trip to Arizona:

And who could forget this gem of a post I did on the irresponsible trip that took the level of outrage to a new level.

HatCityBLOG June 5 2009:

Picture of Desert Edge High School, Goodyear, Ariz

Okay, follow me down this road of logic...

From Eileen FitzGerald's interview with Danbury Superintendent Sal Pascarella regarding the now infamous school board "principal search" trip to Arizona.
The school district was harshly criticized by Mayor Mark Boughton and the Common Council this week for spending about $3,000 for five people to travel to Arizona to visit Rossi's school last week.

Okay, based on the article ALONE, we now know that last week, Pascarella, assistant high school principals Gary Bocaccio and Jesse Ballenger, and school board members Rachael Austin and Irving Fox, went to Arizona to visit the candidate's [Robert Rossi Principal, Desert Edge High School, Goodyear, Ariz] place of employment and do some observations.

Well, Desert Edge High School has a website...and here's what they have to say (note the section in the black rectangle).

Picture 17

Okay, lets recap:

The Superintendent of School, two assistant principals and a Democratic and Republican member of the Board of Education took a trip to Arizona to visit and observe a candidate for principal of Danbury High School last week (May 24-May 30) YET, based on it's own website, Desert Edge High School had no kids or staff as of May 22nd?

...and of course, the News-Times article makes no mention of this FINE detail.

In closing, a quote from Dr. Sal.
"That's why we go and make site visits,'' he said. "We do Google searches, check things out, and then go face to face, he said. "We want to get the best people in the position."


"Because we've had such a high turnover (of leaders) at the high school, it was important to have veteran high school administrators there [at the Arizona visit].

In 10 years, we have had five principals at the high school. I needed to have their (assistant principals') input and their eyes."

Random thoughts:

1. I don't know how one "check things out" when the school you've visiting is closed.

2. I don't know how assistant principals give their input when the STAFF and KIDS at the high school are gone for the summer (i.e., NO REGULAR CLASSES ARE BEING TAUGHT).

As every day goes by, more questions pop up regarding this entire fiasco...hopefully, soon the public will be provided answers from ALL PARTIES involved in this situation.

Take 2 coming soon...somewhere Tim Salem is having a good laugh.

BREAKING NEWS: Rossi resigns

Monday, July 18, 2011
Time: 4:08 PM

Dr. Robert Rossi, principal at Danbury High School for the past two years, has resigned and will return to Phoenix where he worked before coming to Connecticut.

The 53-year-old Rossi sent a letter to school officials over the weekend saying he resigned for "personal reasons," according to Kim Thompson, the district's human resources director and legal counsel to the Board of Education.

Rossi's resignation means that the high school of 3,000 students will face its sixth principal in about eight years.

"It was a very tough decision,'' Rossi said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "I had tremendous support at the district level and from the school board. But personally, to live in Danbury and have my life on the other side of the world was too hard."

Rossi has family and a home in Arizona, where he has been since he moved from New York at 12 years of age.

So to recap, the Board of Education:

For a principal whose tenure can only be viewed as controversial, Rossi wasn't that popular with the rank and file members of the high school (who predicted that Rossi would resign at the end of the year months ago) as well as students who are still upset over his very controversial change in grading policy this year.

I can't see this but anything but an utter failure by the leadership of the Board of Education who gave the green light to Rossi's hiring in the first place. In the wake of Rossi's resignation, and the list of other problems within the Danbury education system, maybe it's time for residents to focus their attention on the November elections and voting members of the Board of Ed out of office.

...more later.

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On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.

The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.

Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.

Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.



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3:06-cv-01992-RNC ( D. Conn. )

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