Published July 24. 2014 3:14PM Updated July 25. 2014 7:39PM
New London — Terrence P. Carter made his position clear Thursday as he arrived at the Board of Education meeting flanked by his attorney and a public relations representative.
“I stand by my resume. I have done nothing wrong,” said Carter, the man the board unanimously chose as the city’s next superintendent last month, when questioned by a Day reporter. He refused to answer specific questions.
After more than two hours discussing the matter behind closed doors, the Board of Education voted unanimously to launch an independent investigation into allegations that surfaced over the last week regarding Carter’s background.
“Too much has come out this past week to simply dismiss as hearsay,” board member Mirna Martinez said. “At this point, even speaking with Mr. Carter, only going on his word ... I cannot simply go on his word. I would like to have a formal investigation. Accusations such as these are not to be taken lightly, therefore it would be irresponsible to move forward with this contract at this point.”
Carter, 49, has been under fire after a slew of information came to light in the last week, including that Carter represented himself — or allowed others to represent him — as having a Ph.D. for more than five years before he received his doctorate from Lesley University in Massachusetts.
The Day also reported this week that Carter has a history of defaulting on financial obligations and has filed for bankruptcy in two states in the last 15 years. His claims, though, were dismissed because he failed to appear at a court-scheduled meeting or failed to file required paperwork.
“There’s a whole bunch of allegations ... and we want to look into all of them,” Board President Margaret Mary Curtin said. “We’re going out to do an investigation through our law firm, Shipman and Goodwin, and hopefully it will be done as soon as possible.”
The investigation, Curtin said, is expected to take about 30 days.
Curtin refused to answer when asked whether she thinks Carter could effectively lead the district since the revelations about his background and possible misrepresentation.
Board members Aracelis Vazquez Haye and Scott Garbini declined to comment after the meeting, and Garbini said board members were told to refer all questions to Curtin.
“I think the board made a very sound decision tonight and did so with legal advice, and I’m very supportive of their decision and path forward,” state-appointed Special Master Steven J. Adamowski said. “I feel that the board will make an objective, fact-based decision as a result of doing this.”
The vote came after the board, its lawyer, Adamowski and Carter entered a closed-door executive session on Thursday to discuss concerns about Carter’s financial background and the allegations that he misrepresented his academic record.
After more than in hour in executive session, Carter and his attorney left the meeting. As he walked to his blue Ford Escape, Carter said only, “I am not stepping down; I am interested in the job.” Then he drove away.
Bill McCoy, Carter's attorney, confirmed that Carter does not intend to withdraw from consideration for the superintendent job. He declined to say whether Carter is considering legal action against the board or the city.
Curtin said the decision to hold off on taking action on Carter’s contract was not in response to any threats of litigation.
On Thursday morning, Adamowski asked Carter to withdraw from consideration for the job.
“On behalf of the department, Special Master Adamowski has asked for (Carter’s) withdrawal,” state Department of Education spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly said in a statement. “At the request of the commissioner, the Special Master is participating in ongoing conversations with the local board regarding this evolving situation and potential next steps.”
Carter did not accept the invitation to withdraw and instead chose to continue to pursue the job.
“He decided he would rather address the board directly on these issues. Obviously, he had firm convictions regarding the issues,” Adamowski said. “The board, after hearing his explanations and considering the information he provided, made the decision that was reflected in the resolution tonight.”
When asked whether he thinks Carter could still be an effective superintendent in New London after all that has taken place in the last week, Adamowski said he would “reserve judgement on that relative to the board’s review of an independent investigation.”
Adamowski said that by Aug. 1 he would appoint an interim superintendent to lead the district for 60 to 90 days, until the investigation is complete and the board makes a determination about Carter’s status.
The board will “appoint an interim (superintendent) until we can come up with an answer,” Curtin said. “And then if the answer is that we go out and search again, that’s what we’ll do.”
Editor's note: This version corrects an earlier version. Terrence P. Carter's attorney Bill McCoy did not participate in the executive session Thursday.