Saturday, July 20, 2024

BOE Votes to Fire Superintendent Uyi Osunde

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By Barbara Heimlich and Michael Suntag
Stratford Crier Editors

In a statement emailed to the Stratford Crier, Attorney Todd Steigman, Dr. Uyi Osunde’s attorney issued the following: 

“This is another act of discrimination and retaliation against Dr. Osunde.  Dr. Osunde was not interviewed as part of this process.  Dr. Osunde looks forward to asserting his rights and vindicating himself through the processes which will follow, including through the pending federal court action.”   

Todd Steigman

Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau LLC

A divided town school board voted Thursday night to take the first step to fire Superintendent Uyi Osunde.  After meeting behind closed doors for more than an hour, the board voted 4-3 along party lines to notify Osunde that the panel is considering terminating his contract and to invite him to plead his case during a hearing.

Board Chair Michael Henrick declined to reveal the major findings of the inquiry, but said he believed the information included in the lengthy report delivered to the board “validates a hearing.” 

The decision was supported by the Republican majority and opposed by its three Democratic members, who have repeatedly denounced the investigation. Democrat Lisa Carroll-Fabian claimed the report includes “no significant evidence” justifying Osunde’s firing.  “I believe in the importance of fair and justice treatment for all of our staff, and in this case, terminating the superintendent is neither warranted nor in the best interest of our district,” Carroll-Fabian said. 

The investigation into Dr. Osunde, a former high school principal who was appointed schools chief in 2021, began late last year after he was arrested at his New Haven home and charged with breach of peace in connection with a domestic dispute. 

At the time, the school board voted to place Osunde on paid leave while attorneys investigated the circumstances surrounding the November 25th arrest — a decision backed by the panel’s Republican majority but opposed by its three Democratic members. 

Osunde has denied any wrongdoing and prosecutors earlier this year dismissed the misdemeanor charge, leading some residents to call on the board to reinstate the superintendent

Instead the Republican majority chose to expand the scope of the investigation to include Osunde’s job performance and potential contract violations, a move that effectively delayed the conclusion of the probe.  The conclusion of the investigation comes as board attorneys seek to convince a judge to throw out a federal lawsuit Osunde filed against the panel’s Republican majority in April that claims his suspension is due to racial discrimination. 

Todd Steigman, the superintendent’s attorney, after the board vote issued a brief statement calling the vote another example of discrimination against Osunde.

“Dr. Osunde was not interviewed as part of this process,” he wrote. “Dr. Osunde looks forward to asserting his rights and vindicating himself through the processes which will follow, including through the pending federal court action.”  

The board must offer Dr. Osunde a chance to appear before them during a hearing before it can formally terminate his contract.  After receiving the notice, Osunde has 15 days to decide if he wants to attend the hearing. The contract also gives him the sole authority to decide if the hearing will be held in public or behind closed doors in executive session.

Once the hearing is concluded, the board will then have another 15 days to render a decision, which must be based on evidence presented at the hearing.

“It is not yet clear when — or even if — the full findings of the investigation will be released to the public.” Floyd Dugas, a board attorney from Bercham & Moses in Milford, as he has said the report is subject to attorney-client privilege, meaning the board is not required to release the document. 

The Stratford Crier has filed a Freedom Of Information request with both the Board of Education in the Town of Stratford (asking for an accounting of attorney costs) and an open records request with the school board for a copy of the investigative report

2 COMMENTS

  1. A proposal. Every school in the Stratford area sends a representative teacher and a representative student to express their school’s opinion of the BOE’s handling of Dr. Osunde and the recent budget approval. Let those whom the BOE exists to represent speak for themselves. Let those who are most directly affected by the BOE’s choices and behavior
    be officially heard from. I might help to clear the air. Politics should give way to education.

  2. Louie the midget and his puppet Mike with the blessing of Hoydick will cost our town millions and more chaos to education system. Taxes payers need to know the facts of why ? Arrest that was dropped say so. The republican politicians takes money from associates of the la costra nosta. Look at the money given. lou is what Stephanie was 2017.

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