Updated, 1:46 p.m.: Comment from Bruce Mellion added. Updated 3:31 p.m., settlement agreement added.
NORWALK, Conn. – Bruce Mellion may have succeeded in delaying the announcement of Norwalk’s next superintendent for a week.
Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons said Tuesday night that the board had selected its superintendent candidate during an executive session that preceded the regular board meeting, as expected. But an objection raised by Mellion, the Norwalk Federation of Teachers president, has merit and may delay the announcement to July 2, Lyons said.
Mellion again protested the secrecy of the search, saying that the finalists should be presented to the community. The search firm, PROACT, had said that would happen, he said.
Then he protested the process on legal grounds.
“It appears that you are on the precipice of doing some really illegal things if you have not already considered them or done them,” he said. “You are under a signed federal settlement agreement with the Norwalk Federation of Teachers, which is also included in the collective bargaining agreement, page 72. We fully expect you to comply with that letter of agreement from the federal court and the spirit of that agreement as all citizens of Norwalk expect you to do as well.”
Lyons said after the meeting that an offer would be extended to the selected candidate, a man, but he “can’t guarantee” the announcement will happen on June 25, although he had been confident earlier that he would be able to do that.
“It turns out the Mr. Mellion was right, for once, tonight when he talked about that legal agreement,” he said. “It was the settlement of a lawsuit back in 2008 that mandates that before we select a superintendent or make an offer to a superintendent we have to give the union four days advance notice. If we can’t get everything finalized for the candidate by this Friday then we can’t take any action next Tuesday because we haven’t met the requirements of that settlement. So that might push us off for a week.”
Mellion said the delay will allow the public time for the type of scrutiny that has been avoided by the board’s confidentiality agreement in the process.
“The purpose is so the NFT and the public of Norwalk can see for at least four days the actual complete contract and can then comment on the particulars if they so choose to do so ahead of time,” he said in an email.
Lyons declined to give any details about the new superintendent, citing the confidentiality agreement the board had made. He did say that all three finalists were men, but would not say where the new superintendent currently lives.
The board had agreed to a salary range of $230,000 to $250,000 total. Former Superintendent Susan Marks was making $230,000, Lyons said.
He did not know if the new superintendent would be present for the announcement.
Lyons had expected the new superintendent to begin work in mid-July if the terms were agreed to, but if the announcement is pushed back it will delay the start date. He predicted it would be in the third week of July.