Major Inaccuracies in City Journal Article on School System Salaries

Major inaccuracies appeared in a recent article by the Republican-oriented New Britain City Journal in which City Hall Republicans attacked a decision by the Republican-led Board of Education on administrative staff salaries.

In an editorial, the City Journal, closely allied with Republican Mayor Erin Stewart, criticized the decision of the Board of Education on three administrative salary levels. The front page City Journal article in the same edition quoted criticism from a Stewart City Council ally, Republican Kristian Rosado, and Republican Board of Education member Miriam Geraci, of the decision of the Board of Education, led by fellow Republican Nicholas Mercier, to approve pay increases for school system Chief Financial Officer Kevin Kane and two other administrative staff. Geraci criticized the decision, despite being absent from the vote.

But the City Journal article, headlined “BOE Pay Raises Draws Skepticism”, contained at least two significant inaccuracies.

Dr. Nicole Sanders

In one, the City Journal stated, falsely, that Dr. Nicole Sanders is a member of the Board of Education. Referring to the Board of Education vote on the salary level for the assistant chief talent officer position, the City Journal said that the position is, “presently held by Dr. Nicole Sanders (who is also a board of education member).”

Later in the same article, the City Journal said, “According to Mercier, the entire board voted to approve the amended contracts.”

But Dr. Sanders did not vote for her own pay increase because she is not, in fact, a member of the Board of Education. As columnist John McNamara pointed out, “City Journal Editor Robin Vinci, apparently confusing Dr. Sanders with someone else, falsely reported that Sanders is a member of the BOE. By law, school employees cannot serve on the elected board.”

Nicole Rodriguez (CSDNB photo).

The only Board member to share the first name “Nicole” with Dr. Sanders is Board of Education Vice-President Nicole Rodriguez.

Up until 2013, Dr. Sanders had been a Board of Education Member. She resigned the position, however, approximately four years ago. Nicole Rodriguez, a Democrat, has been on the Board of Education since that time.

Another inaccuracy appears where the City Journal said, “According to Mercier, the entire board voted to approve the amended contracts. The only two members not in attendance were Mallory Deprey and Miriam Geraci, but neither voiced any concerns prior to leaving the meeting, said Mercier.”

But a third member of the Board, Merrill Gay, is listed in the minutes of the July 24, 2017 meeting as not having been at the meeting. Gay said the scheduling of the meeting on July 24th instead of the previous Monday left him unable to attend. He was listed as “Absent/Excused” by the Board.

Three, not two, members, Gay, along with Deprey and Geraci, were not present to vote on the proposed salary levels.