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Norwalk DTC considers two for Kimmel’s seat as Norwalk BoE prepares to elect new chair

At left, Common Council member Colin Hosten (D-At Large); at right, former Board of Education member Shirley Mosby.

Updated, 2 p.m. Wednesday: More information.

NORWALK, Conn. – The effort to fill the void left by Board of Education member Bruce Kimmel’s resignation last week is in full swing.

The Board is expected to elect a temporary chairperson Tuesday, and at least two candidates – Colin Hosten and Shirley Mosby – have come forward to take his seat, generating controversy two weeks ahead of the Democratic Town Committee’s vote on the opening.

Hosten, who just won election to the Common Council as an at large member, and Mosby, a former BoE member, have submitted letters of intent to the DTC. District E Democrat Nora King immediately took to Facebook to decry Hosten’s interest in the role as “political cronyism” and Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams called NancyOnNorwalk to say that she likes Hosten but he’s being used as a puppet and that Mosby should get the post, given that she has experience on the Board.

Other Democrats spoke well of Hosten. “I find him to be a very deliberative, measured person, not one to grandstand,” DTC member Pam Parkington said.

 

 

Seems ‘like chaos’ but NPS ‘chugs along’

Kimmel served as chairman for less than a week, resigning six days after being elected and presiding over a raucous meeting in the packed City Hall community room, full of NAACP members unhappy with former Board Chairman Mike Barbis.

The BoE is planning to elect a chairperson to serve until March 3, first thing during its meeting Tuesday.

“I am not sure if there will be more than one name put forward,” Vice Chairperson Heidi Keyes said in an email. She didn’t reply to a followup email asking why the chairperson will only serve three months.

The idea is to establish continuity and stability, and wait for Kimmel’s replacement to get settled into the Board so that everyone can have a vote, BoE member Sarah LeMieux said.

The Board’s changing landscape is also expected to include a vote Tuesday for a temporary chairperson.

LeMieux said she knows who is under consideration to be chairperson but didn’t want to divulge that information.

“You know, on the surface, it seems like there’s been a lot of chaos, but the Board is just a mechanism for oversight. Norwalk Public Schools has been chugging along really beautifully during all this time,” LeMieux observed, noting that the teachers and administrators are doing their jobs and “everything has been going very smoothly. “We have a lot of new members on the Board who all bring really great skill sets to the work that we are doing. I think that things are calmer than they seem.”

Barbara Meyer-Mitchell declined to comment.

 

Two – or three – candidates

“Well, this is unexpected,” Hosten said in his letter to DTC members, noting that he’d just been elected to the Council and didn’t see this coming. “It shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, though. So much of what drives my passion to serve on the Council is my commitment to a high-quality and equitable public school system.”

Hosten called himself “an educator with extensive experience both in the classroom and in pedagogical study,” from a family of educators, and recognizing “that quality public education is directly linked to economic growth and the overall quality of life in our city.”

“But perhaps most importantly, my past ten months on the Council have offered a rigorous crash course in effective city government,” he wrote. “I was appointed halfway through the term, and learned quickly through the budget process and on major issues such as noise regulation, plastic pollution, Wall Street Place, and, yes, our growing school population, how to effectively navigate local government—to the extent that after being elected in November, I was appointed Chair of the Council’s Ordinance Committee.”

Mosby did not return a phone call from NancyOnNorwalk. Her four-year service on the Board of Education was turbulent, as she alleged racial discrimination from Board Chairman Mike Lyons and others. It was later proven that she and fellow minority members Rosa Murray and Migdalia Rivas were routinely excluded from Board email conversations, as was Sherelle Harris on occasion.

Lyons said Wednesday that Mosby, Rivas and Murray also excluded the other Board members from their conversations, “including their regular private meetings with {then-Deputy Superintendent} Tony Daddona.”

Mosby’s performance as a Board member was sharply criticized, with a ConnCan Board Watch report calling her “uninformed” and arguing against state law in December 2016. She was also described as letting emotion get in the way of the point she was trying to make. Her attempt to gain reelection in 2017 was not supported by the DTC and her attempt to force a primary was unsuccessful. She was endorsed by the Working Families Party but fell well behind the Democratic candidates.

She is NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) First Vice President and Education Chair and has spent hours at recent Board of Education retreats in that role.

King, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, suggested that there’s a third Democrat looking for the seat. NancyOnNorwalk was not able to confirm that information.

 

Immediate backlash

Hosten isn’t qualified, according to King, who informed Hosten, “I am tired of DTC leaders putting up their political cronies at the expense of my children and the children all throughout Norwalk…. I also find it very disturbing that people worked hard to get you elected to the Common Council and in the blink of an eye you decided to drop out of the role that you were elected to do.”

On Facebook, King commented, “I am a Democrat but I just can’t support what they do sometimes at the expense of my kids education. I really want to stay in Norwalk but I have seen how some bad apples can really change the direction of the board and with the hiring of the next superintendent. I really feel we need independent thinkers and not party hacks.”

DTC member Pam Parkington countered that Hosten is “a very deliberative, measured person, not one to grandstand. His professional background as a college professor is the same as Bruce Kimmels, though more current, since Kimmel had been retired for some time now. Also, I don’t believe you must have children to be on the BOE to want the children of Norwalk to get the best, most equitable education we can provide them. I think he will bring a unique, but steady perspective to the table, one that we may need right now.”

King, in an email to NancyOnNorwalk, alleged that she had given DTC Chairman Ed Camacho “several suggestions that he didn’t take me up on. Mostly because the candidates were unbiased leaders in the community that have fought for and raised money for education and kids for years.    The DTC just can’t deal with that and they wanted someone they could control.   Ed and others wanted to put Colin forward because they can control his votes.  Very sad day for Norwalk parents and taxpayers.”

Camacho commented, “As a duly elected member of the NDTC she has the right vote for whomever she deems most qualified to serve.”

Penn-Williams called NancyOnNorwalk to say, “I think that’s wrong.”

She spoke as if addressing Hosten, “Colin, come on, you can’t run for everything that the DTC is pulling your strings to do. Stop being a puppet.  They wanted you to run against Travis (Simms). You ran against Travis. Then you took Doug Stern’s place, which was great. You got that. You expressed interest on being on the Common Council, you got that. You just were elected to be on the Common Council. Take that, and work hard at that. Stop trying to get everything that comes up. They want you to be a puppet. Stop it. They are pulling your strings so you get pit against another black person.”

She likes Hosten, a “nice guy,” but is supporting Mosby because she has experience on the Board, Penn-Williams said.

Asked for a response by email, Hosten said, “As I wrote to the DTC, my philosophy of public service is to do whatever I can in the best interests of our city, whether it’s on the Council or the Board. My goal on the Council has always been to speak up and be an effective advocate for all the people of Norwalk. It will be the same on the Board of Education. It’s not about me, it’s about public service.”

12 comments

Sue Haynie December 3, 2019 at 6:44 am

Shirley Mosby has always been kind to me. I’m speaking my truth here.

Ms. Mosby would be a highly ineffective voice on the BOE.

Ms. Mosby was on the BOE from 2007-2009 also, during the first Special Ed CREC report, and chaired the BOE SPED committee. The Cambridge Report,another eye-opener on internal BOE/NPS dysfunction, came out in 2008 also.

At that time, all 3 of my kids were students at NPS, I was the PTO Council President and running NorwalkSEEKS, a special ed advocacy group. I was highly involved and highly informed.

One of the reasons I ran for the BOE myself in 2009 was because of the wholesale dysfunction on the BOE that I was witnessing first hand.

M Murray December 3, 2019 at 6:50 am

Common sense would dictate that the DTC would only put one name forward, and it would be someone who would be a calming, stable influence free from controversy and distraction at a time like this. Why would they want to create more drama and stir up more nonsense than already exists when they should be focusing on the opportunity to appoint a person who can bring a business sense to the board and focus on the job at hand? Bring forward someone with no history of animosity either within the DTC or the BOE.

John ONeill December 3, 2019 at 8:55 am

How about a fresh face from the Latino community? Not sure if that demographic is represented fairly right now. Again, a fresh professional, not a recycled view.
@Ed Camacho — You’re smart enough to know this is an incredibly important appointment. The Captain guides the ship. If Norwalk hires the wrong Superintendent, the ship sinks no matter how much money is thrown out trying to save it. Do the right thing.

Lisa December 3, 2019 at 10:36 am

Has Norwalk not learned a thing over the past 10 years? Does anyone remember how toxic and political the BOE became with Shirley on on BOE? Normally I would agree with Sarah Lemieux’s comment regarding oversight, however this BOE will be responsible for HIRING THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT! Single party rule is toxic to Norwalk, and to have that trickle down to NPS/BOE would set this district WAY back. I would say, “Wake Up”, but sadly I think this will play out to the detriment of the community and NPS students and staff.

The Norwalker December 3, 2019 at 5:03 pm

People are talking like the Mike Barbis BOE was not as toxic as Super Fund Site…..

Mike Barbis has left some open Wounds in the Community.

Victor Cavallo December 4, 2019 at 12:05 am

Hey Colin. A plea here from the old hood. Please, PLEASE save us and Norwalk’s children from another Mosby edu-death by a thousand cuts.

Victor Cavallo December 4, 2019 at 12:39 am

Now if you were a college admissions officer and you were aware of Shirley Mosby’s unanimously acknowledged toxic history on the BOE, might that factor into your decision? I dunno.

Bryan Meek December 5, 2019 at 9:08 am

$900,000 walked out of city hall due to fraud. We still have not heard one peep from City Hall about final remuneration amounts from CIRMA, not how far through the roof our insurance policy jumped from the incompetence. No one lost their job and to this day we still don’t know what the city did to fix its system of internal controls to prevent it from happening again.

Mr. Hosten had an opportunity while on the Common Council to demand answers for the taxpayers of Norwalk and instead went after his party bosses political opponents for $25 donations from retired ladies who didn’t put the word retired on a campaign finance form.

By this measure alone, he is not fit to serve on the BOE, which more than ever needs strong financial stewards. This year’s budget is guaranteed to break the bank and needs proper oversight, not political flunkies padding their resumes.

John ONeill December 5, 2019 at 11:43 pm

It’s Time for professional Latinos with business backgrounds to step up to the plate. I know they’re out there. I hope thy have the time and stamina to handle current situation. Even if they have Republican leanings they should be considered to replace Kimmel,right?
If not, why not? Again, retreads won’t work. We need fresh views.

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