Board Strife Over Personnel Recommendations

By: Melissa Stagnaro

NORWICH – The Norwich City School Board has approved the appointment of a new health teacher to take the place of a staff member who tendered her resignation earlier this month. The decision, however, was not without contention.

It started Monday night when board member Sally Chirlin made a motion to table the hire of the 7-12 position until the board held an executive session discussion on the matter of the previous teacher’s resignation and the prospective staff member’s qualifications.

The motion, which was seconded by Priscilla Johnson, sparked debate among both members of the board and Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan.

“I think that’s a management decision,” stated board member Perry Owen, who said he was troubled by the proposed action.

“It’s a necessary position which we have to fill,” O’Sullivan reported, explaining that the previous teacher’s resignation – which the board had already accepted on Nov. 8 – was effective Nov. 30. Come Dec. 1, he said, there would be students in the class without an instructor if the board failed to take action on the appointment. “We need a teacher for that classroom.”

Chirlin took issue with the fact that the appointment had not been on the personnel recommendations at the time of the agenda meeting the previous Monday.

“There are always additions and deletions to the agenda,” O’Sullivan pointed out. “This is a normal process that the district goes through.”

After several more minutes of debate, Chirlin moved the question to a vote with no further discussion. The motion passed with a count of 4 to 3; with Chirlin, Johnson, Dr. Linda Horovitz and Board President Heather Collier Fredenburg voting for and Owen, Stagliano and Tom Morrone voting against.

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