State Commends New London School Board On Superintendent Decision

The state Department of Education commended the New London Board of Education Friday for its decision on Thursday not to hire Terrence Carter as superintendent after a month-long investigation.

"Although we have not yet reviewed the (investigative) report," Kelly Donnelly, state spokeswoman said Thursday, "we commend the New London Board of Education for their wise decision to investigate this matter further and for having arrived at what appears to be a well-reasoned conclusion last night."

Carter, a highly touted Chicago school administrator, had been selected as superintendent by the board in June, but the board postponed a vote on awarding him an employment contract in late July in the aftermath of revelations in The Courant that he had used "Ph.D." and "Dr." with his name for at least five years without having a doctorate from an accredited college.

In addition, The Day of New London reported that large portions of his New London job application essay were identical to language in documents written by others and available on the Internet.

On Thursday night, the board released an investigatory report from its legal counsel, Shipman & Goodwin, that corroborated the facts laid out in the media.

"Neither the responses by Mr. Carter nor any documentary or other evidence contradicts the findings concerning Mr. Carter's use (or misuse) of the titles Dr. and/or Ph.D.," the report said "prior to his achieving such status by completion of the requirements for a doctoral degree from an accredited college or university,"

"Nor do we agree," the report continued, that Carter's "use, without attribution, of the work of others… is not 'plagiarism,' which reflects poorly on any person seeking to lead an academic enterprise."

Donnelly's comment Friday contrasts sharply with Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor's initial opinion of Carter shortly after the board selected him. Pryor said then that he endorsed the board's selection of Carter and was "impressed with his experience regarding school turnaround."

Donnelly said that Steven Adamowski, whom the state Board of Education appointed as a special master to oversee the New London system, "will continue to serve as the Department's representative to help support the local board and school district in realizing its vision for New London's schools."

"We do not anticipate that the commissioner will have a direct role in the selection process," Donnelly said.

Adamowski, who was involved in vetting the two finalists for the superintendent position, said soon after the board's selection of Carter that he was optimistic about that choice and that Carter had a "tremendous background in school turnaround."

After Thursday's night's vote not to hire Carter, Adamowski said, "I'm supportive of this action … and I'm glad to see this chapter closed."

Julianne Hanckel, spokeswoman for the New London school system, said the school board is expecting to set a date for a meeting in the next couple of weeks to determine how to proceed on a search for a new superintendent.

Carter's attorney, William McCoy said Friday that Carter has the legal grounds to take action against the New London school board, but it will be up to Carter whether he does that.

McCoy said he had not had time yet to meet with his client to review the board's decision and its investigation.

Carter, who did not attend Thursday's meeting, said Friday in an email that his publicist would release a statement reacting to the board's decision.

"My media representative, Roxanne Jones of PUSH Marketing will contact you and give a statement on my behalf," Carter said in the email.

But neither Jones nor Carter contacted the Courant.

Carter was expected to get a Ph.D on Monday from Lesley University, in Cambridge, MA, but a spokesman for Lesley said that degree was not conferred, and would not give any explanation about why not.

On Friday, McCoy said that Carter is still eligible to get his doctorate but he has not yet completed a few "pro forma things" that have to happen before a degree is conferred. McCoy said Carter had not attended to those task because of the turmoil during the last month over the New London position.

He said those tasks "don't present any obstacle" to his eventually getting his degree, but he just hasn't had the time to do them.

John Sullivan, a spokesman for Lesley, said Friday that he can't say any more about the status of Carter's degree other than that he did not get it on Monday.

"I don't think we'll have any future statement," said Sullivan. "I don't anticipate a time when I would be able to say anything."

In a letter dated June 10, Carter's senior adviser at Lesley verified that he had "successfully defended his dissertation" on May 28 and would officially be awarded his doctorate on the "next degree conferral date, August 25, 2014."

Carter's defenders said he had the right to call himself "doctor" as of May 28.

Several members of the New London board did not return phone calls Friday.