Board Expands Investigation Into Suspended Stratford Superintendent

STRATFORD, CT — While a criminal charge against Stratford Superintendent of Schools Uyi Osunde has been dismissed, the Board of Education recently expanded the scope of the investigation that started when he was placed on paid administrative leave.

Osunde was charged on Nov. 25 with second-degree breach of peace in New Haven in connection with a domestic incident, and the charge was dismissed last month.

The Stratford Board Of Education last week voted along party lines, with the 4-3 Republican majority authorizing attorneys to expand the scope of the investigation, the Connecticut Post previously reported.

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The approved motion to expand the investigation, which was proposed by board Chairman Michael Henrick, included the following items:

1. Excessive travel and travel expenditures, some or all of which occurred without Board approval

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2. Failure to perform job duties by frequently arriving after and/or leaving before the end of regular office hours

3. Delegating his responsibilities to subordinates resulting in stress and frustration of cabinet level personnel

4. Failure to obtain Board approval for the Alliance Grant and representing to the State of Connecticut that the Board approved the application

5. Failure to open time sensitive emails (including emails from the State Department of Education)

6. Any other areas of concern that may arise resulting from the original investigations

In a statement to Patch, Osunde said he was “incredibly surprised and shocked” by the new allegations.

“But I am even more disappointed that someone would suggest that I am not meeting my responsibilities,” Osunde said. “The data and outcomes would contradict this premise. My work, or the role of the public school superintendent, is 24/7.”

Henrick told Patch that the board majority is more concerned with the “behaviors displayed, not the disposition of the case” regarding Osunde.

“We are following our attorney’s advice and allowing them to thoroughly conduct and complete their investigation,” Henrick said. “We will conclude this issue in as quick a time frame that is reasonably possible.

“Our major concern is the safety and well-being of students and staff and want to ensure the person we put in charge of them always behaves, in all situations, with the utmost character.”

Henrick said a superintendent’s behavior is an “exemplification of how we expect our children to behave.”

“Brushing this under the rug, without a thorough investigation would be a disservice to those we are entrusted to protect,” he said.

Osunde has received support from community members, including Stratford resident Kenneth Pugh of the Greater Bridgeport NAACP who spoke during the public comment portion of last week’s board meeting.

Pugh said he was concerned about the “failure to reinstate” Osunde and the continued suspension, along with new items added to the scope of the investigation.

“This is an abuse of power and authority,” Pugh said. “This process has not been fair nor has it been just. We the Greater Bridgeport NAACP demand a fair and transparent and honest process. We want to make it clear that the Greater Bridgeport NAACP will not tolerate any form of discrimination against any person of color.”

Pugh said Osunde is an “accomplished professional with an excellent record in educational administration.”

“He has a stellar record in New London, East Hartford, Manchester, Windsor, and now the Stratford school system,” Pugh said. “His experience, skill, character and passion for children, staff and families are why he was hired by the board. Under his leadership, there have been many, many accomplishments of Dr. Osunde, but it is abundantly clear to everyone that politics, bigotry, and racism were at play here.”

In his statement, Osunde said that “to the public eye, it’s hard not to agree that this is about race.”

“While the face of this seems to be the BOE Chair, there are actors in the background perhaps more instrumental in this charade,” Osunde said, while quoting statistician and American business theorist W. Edwards Deming, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the result that it does.”

“I am disappointed that I have been prohibited from contacting my executive team and school leaders, or them contacting me, even for the purposes of consulting on blindspots, systemic design and strategy,” Osunde said. “The priority philosophy of my last two budgets has been to keep our faculty and staff intact, to the extent possible, in ways that are still aligned to our improvement needs—we have been successful in this aim, resulting in forward movement.”

Henrick said the suggestion to call the investigation a “racially motivated witch hunt is a blatant attempt to divert attention from the true issue – the behaviors that have been displayed and how they impact our district.”

Osunde said he was “humbled and appreciative of the visible support I have received from members of the Stratford community, the region [including the NAACP], as well as from colleagues across the state.”

“I am looking forward to cooperating, as well as the outcome of this investigation,” he said. “It will be interesting.”

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