Hartford Public Schools Institutes Travel Ban Following Educator Trip to Miami - NBC Connecticut

Hartford Public Schools Institutes Travel Ban Following Educator Trip to Miami

(Published Thursday, May 26, 2016)

The head of Hartford schools is taking action now that details about a trip to Miami for more than 30 educators has gone public.

The trip, which cost the district more than $60,000, was to accept a series of awards for magnet schools took place just weeks after the district announced widespread layoffs. 

The school district said money for this trip came out of the continuing education funds at each of the magnet schools. A city councilman also told NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters off camera that money could've easily been transferred to save a teacher's job.

Hartford educators posted on social media about the trip to the fun and sun in Miami earlier this month.

The 33 staffers, mostly administrators, went to the Magnet Schools of America annual conference to accept the awards May 4-7, just five weeks after the district announced about 200 layoffs because of budget issues. 

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters asked magnet school parent Erica Brito what she thought of the trip. In light of the layoffs "the kids need these teachers at the end of the day. There's a lot of good teachers out here and they're taking the good ones out."

Those from Hartford attending the conference came from Annie Fisher STEM, Betances STEM, Breakthrough Magnet, Mary Hooker Magnet, Noah Webster, Pathways Academy, The School of Sports and Medical Sciences, the Office of School Choice, plus seven staffers from the Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts.

This big trip to Miami has also caught the attention of Hartford's Internal Audit Commission which is now considering an investigation. Commissioner Bruce Rubenstein said, “Over thirty people in a city that's financially strapped? Somebody is tone deaf here."

No one from the Hartford Public Schools central offices would talk on camera when we came by for a comment. We did receive a memo sent from the superintendent to all Hartford public schools employees said, “An opportunity for celebration instead revealed a flaw in our travel approval process there was no need for such a large presence effective immediately. I am ordering a moratorium on all out-of-state travel that is non-essential.”

About half of the $60,000 for the trip comprised of hotel fees. We reached out to the hotel hosting the conference. It said any reservations could've been canceled and refunded within 72 hours of the event.

Also of note, the first report on this trip appeared in the local blog We The People Hartford.

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