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Tesei calls on school board to reconsider pick for superintendent

January 26, 2019

GREENWICH — The latest person to join the bandwagon of support for Ralph Mayo, who was passed over for the job of permanent superintendent of schools in Greenwich, is none other than First Selectman Peter Tesei.

Tesei endorsed Mayo, a Greenwich native who has served as interim superintendent since last summer, both in a statement to Greenwich Time and on Twitter on Saturday morning.

“I believe (the board of education) needs to stop the insanity and look at what the internal and external stakeholders are saying. We cannot undergo several more years of instability given the proposed capital program,” he told Greenwich Time. “This is worth going to the mat over, as a parent of a kid in the district and a taxpayer, aside from my position.”

His tweet shared a Greenwich Time article about a petition, circulating on social media, that also supports Mayo.

“Ralph Mayo provides deep knowledge of and experience in our school district and needed stability in administration. The BoE should reconsider their decision and stop the decades of revolving door Supers,” Tesei said on Twitter.

Suzanne Sullivan, an Old Greenwich resident, started it to bring together the comments scattered across social media about the community reaction to the appointment. As of Saturday morning, the petition had 731 signatures, up from more than 300 on Thursday.

The Greenwich Board of Education announced it had appointed Toni Jones, the current superintendent in Fairfield, at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, before a long weekend. The decision on a superintendent was not unanimous for the first time, with board member Peter Sherr dissenting. Many residents expressed shock and dismay in multiples posts on social media that Mayo, a hometown favorite son, was not hired.

The petition wishes Jones well, but it said “this is about the BOE completely disregarding the opinions of large groups in the community they represent.”

“Please sign this petition to let the Board of Education know that you are dissatisfied with the decision they made and disappointed that they did not offer Ralph Mayo the permanent position,” the post at iPetitions says.

The local teachers union also supported Mayo for the job. “Having Ralph in the interim position has been good for moral,” Greenwich Education Association President Carol Sutton said. “We hoped to have the opportunity to rebuild momentum under his leadership.”

Mayo, who said he started reading the many emails and text messages he was receiving this week, did not expect the outpouring of support for him and disagreement with the school board to be this intense.

“I’ve known for a week, but they learned” that day, he said of his many supporters in the community on Wednesday. “They get their time to vent, and like all professionals, we’re going to move on. They need to have their chance.”

Mayo, a candidate for the job, took on the role of interim in July to replace Jill Gildea, who left last year after less than a year on the job. Gildea had replaced Sal Corda, who served as the interim superintendent after William McKersie left to lead the Weston Public School District.

The position of Greenwich schools superintendent has seen turnover a dozen times in the past two decades — including interim school chiefs who filled in for a year while the school board searched for a new “permanent” leader.

Jones has eight years of experience as a superintendent, two of which are in Fairfield.

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