Published July 25. 2014 6:10PM Updated July 26. 2014 10:34PM
New London — The attorney representing Terrence P. Carter said Friday his client signed an agreement to become the city’s next superintendent and has relocated to the city with the understanding that the job was his.
“He had been identified as the new superintendent, he was told he was being offered the job, they had negotiated terms and conditions for the job that he signed off on,” said Carter’s lawyer, Bill McCoy. “He had done everything that he was supposed to do in relation to the job offer.”
On June 12, the Board of Education unanimously selected Carter, 49, as the city’s next superintendent and lawyers representing each side began contract talks.“An agreement was provided to (Carter),” McCoy said. “It was his understanding that all parties had agreed to those terms and conditions.”
Board of Education President Margaret Mary Curtin confirmed Friday that Carter has signed a contract, but the board has not approved it.
“It’s not valid until the board votes and I sign it,” Curtin said. “We were waiting for the contract to be signed by him before we called a meeting to vote on it.”
After Carter had emerged as the board’s top choice and had been welcomed by the community at a reception at Ocean Beach Park, news reports revealed that Carter had represented himself — or allowed others to represent him — as having a Ph.D. for more than five years before he completed his doctorate studies. He also has twice filed for bankruptcy.
The school board was scheduled to meet Monday to vote on a contract, but then delayed that meeting until Thursday. On Thursday, the board voted unanimously to launch an independent investigation into Carter’s academic record and financial background, and to defer any action on a contract until the inquiry is complete.
“The board’s decision to independently investigate was the right decision,” said Kelly Donnelly, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education. “We hope they will take up a rigorous investigation without delay.”
Carter has declined to withdraw from consideration as the state education department requested and, as he arrived to meet with the board in closed session Thursday, said, “I have done nothing wrong.”
“Terrence Carter applied in good faith for a job, he feels he is qualified for that job, he feels he has been forthright in terms of every questions asked of him by the board,” McCoy said. “At this point, the issues that remain relate to newspaper articles as opposed to facts.”
On Friday, Donnelly said the state Department of Education’s preference remains that Carter remove himself from consideration for the New London superintendent job.
Carter, who was supposed to take the reins in New London on Aug. 1, has moved to New London to comply with the requirement that the city’s superintendent live in the city, McCoy said. He declined to say where Carter was living and whether Carter has purchased property or if he is renting.
State-appointed Special Master Steven J. Adamowski said Friday that he has set aside “up to $10,000” from his own budget to cover the moving expenses for the next superintendent. Neither he nor the board have paid for Carter’s moving expenses, he said.
“These expenses are for the new superintendent, assuming that there is a contract with the new superintendent,” Adamowski said. “They would not be spent until that has occurred, so I would not be authorizing (payment of) moving expenses except to an individual the board had a contract with.”
Adamowski said he has also budgeted money from his annual $1.1 million support funds to cover the difference between whatever salary the board agrees to pay the new superintendent and the $164,631 the board budgeted for a superintendent’s salary this fiscal year.
Adamowski’s funds have been used to pay the bill for McPherson & Jacobson, the consulting firm hired by the Board of Education to conduct a nationwide search for a superintendent.
The board on Feb. 28 entered into a contract to pay the firm $8,000 upfront and the remaining $8,000 plus additional expenses at the conclusion of the search. On June 26, the firm billed the board for the second $8,000 plus $7,364.26 for expenses including the consultant’s airfare, lodging, meals and car rental.
Adamowski, however, said he will not cover the cost of the investigation into the allegations that Carter misrepresented himself. The investigation, to be carried out by the school boards lawyers, Shipman and Goodman, will be paid out of the Board of Education’s budget, which includes $210,000 for legal expenses.