Former congressman wades into New London superintendent flap

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons said he went to Lesley University last week to warn officials about troubled New London superintendent candidate Terrence P. Carter, who has said he would be receiving a Ph.D. from the Cambridge, Mass., university on Monday.

Simmons said in a phone interview Saturday evening that he has been following news stories about Carter’s questionable credentials and wanted to make sure university officials were aware of them. He said he emailed the university and called them, then stopped into the office of the university president on Wednesday while he was visiting his newlywed son and daughter-in-law in Boston.

“Lesley University wouldn’t tell me anything, and that’s a real problem,” Simmons said. “I explained to the school in an email and a phone call, and then a visit, that we have an applicant for superintendent of schools who has plagiarized the work of others and misrepresented his credentials.”

New London’s Board of Education appointed Carter as its new superintendent in June, and he moved from Chicago expecting to begin his tenure here on Aug. 1. The board postponed ratifying his contract and launched an investigation last month after The Hartford Courant and The Day reported he may have misrepresented himself as having a Ph.D. The Day also reported that Carter had twice filed for bankruptcy and that large portions of his application and cover letter contained material apparently copied from other sources without attribution.

The Board of Education is expected to complete its investigation this week. Meanwhile, school starts Monday with city native Richard P. Foye serving as interim superintendent.

Carter’s attorney Bill McCoy could not be reached to comment Saturday evening. Foye was also unavailable.

Simmons, a Republican from Stonington, served as U.S. congressman for Connecticut’s 2nd District from 2001 to 2006. His wife, Heidi Simmons, was a teacher in New London for 20 years.

“These kids deserve better than someone who can’t tell the truth about his credentials,” Simmons said. “We don’t need someone from Chicago to come in here and take a job when we’ve got hundreds of people in Connecticut who are qualified and have real credentials.”

Simmons said his wife and sister-in-law both attended Lesley, and he doesn’t want the school to damage its reputation. Simmons said he went to the university on his own and that his wife “had nothing to do with it.”

The president was not in, but Simmons said he spoke with the chief of staff and gave her copies of news stories about Carter, along with a cover letter.

k.florin@theday.com

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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