School Reform
2:34 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Hartford Board of Education Chairman Calls for Investigation of Principal Steve Perry

Hartford Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, left, and Dr. Steve Perry, Principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford.
Hartford Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, left, and Dr. Steve Perry, Principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford.
Credit WNPR

The Chairman of Hartford's School Board, Matt Poland, has called for an investigation of Dr. Steve Perry, the outspoken principal of Capital Prep Magnet School. The questions involve Perry's controversial statements on Twitter.

Dr. Steve Perry is on television and radio a lot, including just last week on WNPR's Where We Live, talking very openly about what he sees as the problems with the nation's education system. Many of his barbs are aimed at teachers unions and those who disagree with his policies. He also regularly gives speeches in front of crowds who agree with his vision for school reform. But it's on the social media service Twitter where Perry's voice is most regularly heard. Fairly typical of his 31,000-plus tweets:

Hours after the Hartford Board of Education voted down a proposal that would have replicated his Capital Prep Magnet School model in another struggling school, Perry tweeted this:

That drew a flurry of response:

The story even made it into Thursday's Washington Post blog, The Answer Sheet.

"I found it to be appalling," said Hartford Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, of Perry's remarks on Twitter. "I believe that given the nature of this most recent tweet, and some of the other tweets that we've heard about, and incidents that we've heard about, there's certainly enough material to warrant a look at what the situation is at Capital Prep. The bravado is getting a little much to take at this point," Poland said. He has asked the district to investigate Perry's Twitter comments and other complaints that have come from former teachers at the school.

Poland said, "I did, for quite a while now, believe that the model [at Capital Prep] in fact was one that we should replicate; that by all of the measurements we use today -- whether we like them or not as measurements -- [Perry] is achieving great success there. But the issues around whether or not his success is creating distress among people who disagree with his style, or whether it's a style that is creating real problems, is something that we've got to get to the bottom of."

Poland, who voted against the proposal that would have allowed Perry to manage SAND school, said he has questions about Perry's leadership style. Poland asked for the issue surrounding Perry's tweets to be addressed within 24 hours.