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Incoming New London superintendent's references to Ph.D. at issue on eve of contract vote

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published July 19. 2014 3:39PM   Updated July 19. 2014 11:53PM
Tim Cook/The Day file photo
In this July 2, 2014, Day file photo, Incoming New London Superintendent of Schools Terrence P. Carter takes part in a meet-and-greet gathering at Port-n-Starboard at Ocean Beach Park in New London.
Report: Carter called himself ‘doctor’ for years before he finished degree

The state-appointed special master who is overseeing New London’s troubled school system said Saturday that newly hired Superintendent Terrence P. Carter was “absolutely clear” during the interview process that he has not yet received a doctorate degree in education.

The Hartford Courant reports that Carter is listed as “PhD” or “Dr. Terrence P. Carter” on numerous documents, including book jackets, programs for symposiums and Chicago Board of Education publications.

“He was absolutely clear that he had finished the doctorate work at Lesley (University, in Massachusetts) in May and he would be conferred in August,” said Steven J. Adamowski, who was appointed two years ago to improve the school district’s educational and financial performance.

Three days before the New London Board of Education is expected to vote on Carter’s contract, the Courant on Friday reported that Carter called himself “doctor” or identified himself as a Ph.D. for more than five years prior to completing the degree.

The school board in 2013 voted not to renew the contract of current Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer and contracted with the Nebraska-based firm McPherson & Jacobson to lead a nationwide search for superintendent. The school board named Carter the new superintendent in June, issuing a press release that said they were “pleased to announce Dr. Terrence P. Carter as the district’s new superintendent of schools” and that he had a Ph.D. from Lesley University in leadership and adult learning.

The board and the community welcomed Carter to the city at a catered reception at Ocean Beach earlier this month. He is set to relocate from Chicago and begin work Aug. 1 if his contract is ratified by the school board on Monday. As of late last month, the board said Carter’s salary was still under negotiation.

Carter and members of the New London Board of Education could not be reached to comment Saturday. School board Chairwoman Margaret Curtin did not respond to two voicemail messages, and nobody answered the door at her Ocean Avenue home.

Julianne Hanckel, spokeswoman for the New London school district, said the district would not be commenting Saturday. A spokeswoman for state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said Saturday evening that he was not immediately available to comment.

Questioned about online references to him as a Ph.D., Carter told the Courant he had obtained a doctorate in theology in 1996 from Lexington University, an unaccredited online school that was formerly known as Hamersfield University in London.

Marjorie Wallace, the team member from McPherson & Jacobson who interviewed and screened Carter, could not be reached to comment Saturday. She told the Courant that she had Googled Carter several times and never came across references in which Carter called himself “Dr.” or “Ph.D.” or was referred to as such. She said he was clear during the process that he was expecting to imminently complete the doctorate degree.

Adamowski, who said he has no authority over the board’s decision, sat in on Carter’s final interview.

“I can tell you that throughout the interview process, there was nothing fraudulent,” Adamowski said. “All his degrees were verified. He was very careful never to describe himself as having a Ph.D. in education. I don’t think he’s any less qualified to be New London’s superintendent as a result of this.”

“The issue was this previous degree that was an online degree,” Adamowski said. “It appears that where this was listed, it was never by him directly. So I think if there was any mistake, it may have been a failure to correct it.”

According to his résumé, Carter is set to receive a doctorate in philosophy from the Lesley University School of Education in Cambridge, Mass. It is unclear whether the résumé, which indicates he expected to complete his dissertation in the fall of 2013, is the most up-to-date version.

The résumé indicates Carter has a Certificate of Advance Studies from National Louis University, master’s degrees in social welfare and public health from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University with a major in African studies and minors in elementary education and social work. There is no mention of Lexington University or Hamersfield University.

According to his résumé, Carter, 49, has most recently served as director and chief academic officer of the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works as a division of the city school system to turn around poorly performing schools.

Prior to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, Carter served as principal of a Chicago elementary school, graduated from an administrator training program and taught elementary grades in New Jersey, according to his résumé.

k.florin@theday.com

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