NORWALK, Conn. – The outcry over Monday’s Fix it First news conference includes a plea from the “publicly humiliated” Columbus Magnet School Principal Medard Thomas.
Echoing the words of Board of Education members who called the Monday press conference an “underhanded” maneuver, Thomas, in a Facebook post, painted it as a betrayal given that the legislators who were rejecting the Board’s new schools plan were at his school Friday morning.
Thomas on Friday hosted a breakfast for Norwalk’s legislative delegation, where the state representatives and State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) were briefed on the Board of Education’s request for $117 million in Norwalk capital funds to build two new schools, with plans to renovate other schools down the line.
Columbus Magnet school is part of the BoE plan; under the proposal, Columbus would move into a new school on the Nathaniel Ely preschool center site, and the existing Columbus facility would be renovated as new to create an International Baccalaureate-themed magnet school.
Thomas, in an early Tuesday Facebook post to Columbus parents, said:
“Dear Columbus Magnet Community:
“Yesterday, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I was publicly humiliated by Norwalk’s mayor, state representatives, and several board of education members. In my heart, I do not believe they willfully proceeded with the intent to cause me angst, frustration, and stress. However, their public actions, ill- conceived, or not, ignited the smoldering embers of resentment and anger, leading to moments of self-doubt about my job. But, I remember the prescient words of a former first lady, who famously said, ‘When they go low, you go high.’
“I was completely blindsided by the press conference orchestrated by our elected leaders, the very people who have repeatedly called out their political detractors for lack of transparency. This past Friday, February, 10, the freezing morning that warranted a two hour delay, I played the role of host at our beloved Columbus Magnet School for our first legislative breakfast. Distinguished guests included several board of education members, central office staff, and several legislators. The purpose of the meeting was to explain the carefully crafted and thoughtful strategic plan supported by a majority of the board members, to our state representatives. In turn, we hoped they would understand the desperate need to invest in our schools and eventually help modernize the crumbling infrastructure within our system.
“We were led to believe the meeting was a success, given the public pronouncements of support by most of the legislators. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. In the midst of trying to run a safe and efficient school for your children, and after I granted an interview to a reporter on the majesty of Columbus Magnet School, I receive from a parent, an email with a link to today’s press conference, asking for comment. I was overcome with confusion, because I repeatedly said, ‘But they sat right next to me, and they did not say a word? How could this have happened?’
“Despite the fact I am profoundly disappointed, and genuinely baffled, I have granted what was not afforded me: transparency and consideration. I have had the opportunity to look at the proposal, and in an act of genuine reflection, analyzed its merits. I am being transparent by saying that I have considered, and respectfully reject the ‘Fix It Now’ proposal. As the leader of Columbus Magnet School, I am asking you to join me on Thursday, February 23, 7:00 PM, to tactfully, yet CONVINCINGLY lobby the finance board for the plan that represents our best interests: the plan put together by the superintendent and the board, or as I am going to start saying,
“Lift your heads up. Raise you voices. Be proud. Be heard. Let us model for our children the type of visionary leadership that will propel them to the 22nd Century.
“With love and gratitude,
The post had 20 comments as of 2:34 a.m. Thursday.
“This town is filled with so many back stabbing politicians that claim to want the best for our schools and children. I am so sorry you had to endure such disrespect, your a amazing humble person and this group of people are Haters and you need to shake them off,” one woman said.
“Mr T you have so much class. When I saw this I was shocked and disappointed by our elected officials. I questioned how this group lacked transparency. Their numbers make no sense and I am wondering which engineers, electricians, plumbers, etc they conferred with to get their numbers. We will continue to stand together as a community!” another woman said.
“Mr T., we support you, Columbus Magnet School and all Norwalk schools! See you on the 23rd!” was another comment.
The Common Council plans a public hearing on the operating budget, at 7 p.m., Feb. 23, in the Common Council chambers, although Council Finance Committee Chairman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) said Tuesday that he would look into moving it to a larger City Hall room.