Dr. Ernest Perlini's hiring as Windsor's interim superintendent was approved by a unanimous board of education vote earlier this month; however, Perlini's hiring was not approved without concern expressed by board members.
In particular, Board of Education Secretary Doreen Richardson and board member Lucille Brown expressed some frustration with the process of hiring Perlini and the nature of the search for a full-time superintendent.
“We as a board haven’t discussed what we want from an interim and eventually a permanent superintendent,” said Brown during the board's special meeting to approve Perlini's nomination.
Richardson expounded on Brown's statement, saying "If we as a board do not articulate our expectations, I see problems down the road.”
In large part, the cause for the board's inability to express expectations was due to the closed-door nature of Perlini's hiring, and the short period of time in which his hiring was approved.
Current Superintendent Elizabeth Feser will be leaving to assume the same role in Milford on April 4. The board and Dr. Feser hoped to have an interim in place well before her departure to allow ample time for collaboration in the months leading up to April 4, creating a smooth transition of leadership.
According to the director of human resources for Windsor Public Schools, Dr. Craig Cooke, the search for an interim was largely conducted by himself and the president of the board of education, Dr. Milo "Rusty" Peck.
Both Peck and Cooke expressed difficulties unique to Perlini's hiring — namely the fact that most qualified individuals are either currently employed as a superintendent or were unwilling to take on the district's plan to consolidate schools and the implementation of plans associated with a partnership with the State Department of Education. It was also difficult to find someone willing to serve as an interim for up to one year, Cooke said.
According to Cooke, the timing and district plans left a "limited pool of candidates," despite their contacting "numerous people." However, Cooke said in a recent phone interview that he and Peck are confident that they got the best man for the job.
Cooke sited Perlini's 16 years of superintendent experience in one district (Newington), something he called "rare." He also noted that Perlini oversaw a school consolidation and reorganization similar to the one Windsor is planning on implementing by the 2012 scholastic year.
While Perlini's experience was praised by board members, and was the essential factor in producing a unanimous vote of approval, the concern regarding an inclusive search for a full-time superintendent is strong.
Board member Howard Jubrey stressed the temporary nature of Perlini's employment in Windsor and said "I'm more concerned about moving forward."
Moving forward, Cooke said that the board will have a "much larger role" in the hiring process. The board has already begun the process of selecting a professional agency to assist in the search for and fielding of applications. Brown called the process "trying," and expressed her hope that the search for an agency and superintendent would extend beyond Connecticut, citing Connecticut's ownership of the largest achievement gap in the nation.
The board has also been charged with serving as a "personnel search committee," said Cooke. Their job, in addition to finding a professional agency, will be to vet candidates for the full-time superintendent position.