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Letter: Critical Choice of New Superintendent Should Involve Community But Not Politics

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Dear Editor:

After 26 years in the West Hartford school system, Tom Moore is leaving for a new opportunity. While a scant few might disagree, by any objective measure, Tom Moore provided exemplary leadership of West Harford’s public schools since 2014 as superintendent. In a job where tenure of an employee is typically under two years, he thrived for eight and only increased the respect other communities have for public education in West Hartford. He was superintendent of the year for the State of Connecticut in 2021. He provided the type of leadership that results in getting schools or libraries named in their honor.

Now West Hartford faces the daunting task of finding a replacement. The board of education will lead that effort. It won’t be easy.

If you think masks or school mascots was challenging for the board, you ain’t seen nothing yet! I expect the search and vetting process for the new superintendent to be contentious and risky. It also affords West Hartford a huge opportunity.

With many town residents of the opinion that the board of ed rushed the school mascot decision and did not take enough time for public feedback and comment, there is sure to be extreme scrutiny not only of the final candidate, but in the process of hiring them as well. With a recent successful recall effort in San Francisco, many other communities are bracing for potential recall votes and BOE’s around the country have prepared for more community engagement on a myriad of issues. Perhaps the most scrutinized is a superintendent hire.

My message to the community: Get involved. Use facts not conjecture in expressing your opinions. Many recent BOE meetings saw angry residents verbally attacking the BOE and Tom Moore for school mask policies that were set and mandated at the state, not local level. This included name calling, insults and yelling. Local officials had no say in the mandate and were likely equally as relieved as everyone else when state mandates were relaxed a short time ago.

Another example of misinformation is the notion of the “indoctrination” of kids and forced Critical Race Theory training being taught to kids of all ages. Spoiler alert, it’s not taught in the West Hartford schools. Ronni Newton and I asked members of the board of ed including the then-chair about this very topic on one of our shows and the video is there for all to see on the WHCI web site. It is a scare term only. Sadly, it has worked.

The board of education has responsibility as well in handling this process. It cannot be rushed or appear to be rushing for any reason. Superintendent Moore will continue in his current capacity until the end of June. That gives the board months to carefully and thoughtfully organize their search plan. Personal agendas must be put aside and the board must realize that in order to get the right person on board, the public is going to passionately engage in this process. BOE members will receive letters, emails and phone calls. Some of them probably very angry at times. They signed up for that when they decided to run for the position and should respond in a timely fashion and hear what the public has to say.

Board members must put personal political agendas aside. I liken the BOE to a captain steering a huge ship, “steady as she goes.” See the process through, involve the community as much as humanly possible, be transparent in your thoughts and actions, listen, and focus on hiring a skilled process-oriented leader and administrator, NOT an activist.

I for one, have huge confidence in both the BOE and the public. I want to be a part of the process and I look forward to seeing this come to fruition. I encourage every resident (whether you have kids in the schools or not) to watch and participate. This has the opportunity to be a bright and shining moment for West Hartford Schools. I want to be able to celebrate success come the eventual start date for our new superintendent and I hope we all get to do just that once it happens.

John Lyons
West Hartford

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1 Comment

  • This letter is typical of the “uni-party” that rules West Hartford. Members of this elite group say they don’t want decisions to involve politics or should be free from politics, because only their politics matter. The letter was very political. Living in this down is great if you agree with the uni-party, which means the one political party that has controlled this town for 20 years. Dissent is not welcome.

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