New London seeks refund for bungled superintendent search

New London — The city has asked for a refund from the search firm that led the school district to Terrence P. Carter, the one-time superintendent appointee who later was revealed to have misrepresented his credentials and plagiarized sections of his job application.

“We made a demand to the recruiting company to return the funds that they were paid to do the recruiting for hiring Mr. Carter,” city attorney Brian Estep said. “We sent the letter, we have heard back from the people involved, but it is just the initial part of the conversation. I can tell you they didn’t just send a check.”

If a check is forthcoming from the Nebraska-based McPherson and Jacobson, it could be for some or all of the $16,000 the firm charged to conduct a nationwide search for a new schools chief. The district was also billed about $7,300 for advertising the position, background checks and the consultant’s travel expenses.

Though the city is requesting the refund, state-appointed Special Master Steven J. Adamowski used funds at his disposal to pay for the city’s superintendent search, according to the school district.

Thomas Jacobson, the firm’s owner and chief executive officer, was not available Thursday to comment on the city’s request.

Though Carter was unanimously appointed as superintendent in June, the Board of Education held off on ratifying his contract and ultimately rescinded its job offer to him after revelations of plagiarism and misrepresentation.

In November, Carter filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education and its president, Margaret Mary Curtin, alleging that Curtin and the board breached an agreement that attorneys for both sides had negotiated.

In the suit, Carter claims he suffered an “economic loss” of more than $15,000 when he resigned from his job in Chicago, put his home up for sale, relocated to New London, put his personal property in storage and purchased real estate in New London.

In response to the lawsuit, an attorney for the board claimed that Carter intentionally misrepresented himself as having a doctorate to coax the Board of Education into entering into a contract with him.

Last month, the board’s attorney requested permission from the court to respond to Carter’s suit with a 55-page brief, citing “the voluminous and complicated factual background of this matter.” That motion has not yet been granted or denied.

Carter, who had been working at a Chicago nonprofit that operates as an arm of Chicago Public Schools to turn around low-performing schools, was the Board of Education’s unanimous selection last June to lead the district.

But in July, just days before the board was to sign Carter’s contract, media reports revealed that he had misrepresented himself — or allowed others to misrepresent him — as having a doctorate for more than five years before he completed his doctoral studies.

Later, The Day reported that at least 10 paragraphs of Carter’s application for the superintendent job in New London, and large portions of his cover letter, contained material apparently copied from other sources without attribution.

In August, the Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind its offer to Carter and not to ratify his contract.

c.young@theday.com

Twitter: @ColinAYoung

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