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Until questions are fully resolved about his qualifications and whether he misrepresented those qualifications in the past, the New London Board of Education should delay approving a contract making Terrence P. Carter the new superintendent.
The appointment of a new superintendent is a critical decision for the school board, and this decision comes at a crucial time for this city and its school system. Working with state education officials, the Board of Education has set as a goal transitioning New London to an all-magnet-schools district.
This approach has great promise for improving education performance in city schools. It will give New London students educational choices. By attracting students from other towns in the region, it will provide income and racial diversity to the public schools. Magnet schools will also attract increased state aid, helping a city with a meager tax base to provide the necessary investment in education.
New London cannot afford to begin this challenging transition with a superintendent who arrives under a cloud of suspicion. It is vitally important that the New London community embrace this school reform effort, and confidence in the leader selected to direct it is paramount.
On numerous occasions - on tax documents, in publications, as a symposium speaker - Mr. Carter has been listed as Dr. or as having a Ph.D. The record shows he had no such title from an accredited institution. In interviews for the New London job, Mr. Carter reportedly acknowledged he had finished his doctorate work at Lesley University in Massachusetts only recently and the degree will become official when conferred next month.
Before approving a contract, the school board needs to ascertain why, then, Mr. Carter was referred to as having a doctorate on so many occasions. Explanations could range from intentional deception to mistakes made by others, but a thorough explanation is necessary.
There is also the question of whether Mr. Carter, given his lack of classroom experience, meets the state requirement for superintendents of "80 months of successful teaching."
Until fully satisfied with the answers it receives to these tough questions, the board should not enter into a binding contract. Better that the Board of Education delay this decision than risk getting it wrong.