The Windsor Board of Education was scheduled to evaluate the performance of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Villar Thursday evening, but an illness kept Villar from attending, sending the board into a tailspin of procedural and contractual interpretation as members grappled over the prospect of conducting the evaluation without Villar being present.
Board President Doreen Richardson led the push to conduct board deliberations Thursday, but a majority of board members said the superintendent's presence was paramount to conducting a meaningful and productive evaluation.
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"In my experience — five years on this board — we have never held a superintendent evaluation without the superintendent here. If we do so, we will be in violation of our contract with the superintendent," Republican member Cristina Santos told Richardson.
Villar's contract requires the board to complete the evaluation process within ten days of the end of each year of his contract (Jan. 31), and the evaluation describes deliberation procedures to be followed. It reads:
Prior to preparing a written evaluation, the Board shall discuss the Superintendent's performance with him in executive session unless the Superintendent requires that such discussion be held in open session.
Several board members interpreted the section of Villar's contract (Click here to view a copy of the superintendent's contract) to mean different things.
While Santos interpreted the section (Section 7.B.) to mean the superintendent must be present for the board to have its evaluation discussion, while Democrats Richardson and Ken Williams argued the discuss could begin Thursday, but would then be continued at another date when Villar could be present.
"We're running out of time and the superintendent is ill, but we can express how we feel in this meeting and then do so with him present at a subsequent meeting as long as it's prior to a written evaluation being disclosed," Williams argued, also expressing his confidence that all board members have opinions of the superintendent's performance since he began working in Windsor in February 2012.
Despite time constraints, however, the prevailing sentiment among board members was that there were many questions about the superintendent's self-evaluation that would need to be addressed during the board's deliberations — questions that could only be answered by the superintendent.
Being the case, the board was split, and not completely down party lines.
While Vice President Darleen Klase expressed wishes of conducting the evaluation with Villar present, she voted alongside fellow Democrats Richardson and Williams.
Democrat and Board Treasurer Richard O'Reilly voted with the the three Republicans and sole Independent on the board in favor of scheduling the meeting to allow Villar to attend and answer questions.
Democrat Leonard Lockhart did not cast a vote on the matter.
The board has yet to announce a date for the rescheduled evaluation.