The embattled candidate for superintendent of New London schools whose job offer was rescinded has lost his lawsuit against the school board and Margaret Curtin, the board chairperson at the time.
Terrence Carter sued the school board and Curtin because they rescinded his job offer Aug. 28, 2014, seeking monetary damages. He complained that they breached his contract and accused Curtin of "tortious interference with a business expectancy," according to the court documents.
Carter was days away from signing a contract with the district when questions about his background came to light. Carter was set to receive his doctorate degree from Lesley University in Massachusetts, but – for reasons still unclear – was denied his Ph.D., according to a university spokesperson.
School officials learned that Carter did not have his degree, despite having referred to himself as a doctor for years. Articles surfaced on the subject that raised concerns, according to court documents.
Carter had told the board that he "never used the title 'Dr.' verbally or on any professional documents in his educational career," but that "others had so referenced him 'in some non-school related community activities,' that in hindsight, he should have corrected them," according to court documents. He did admit to using the title "Dr." in a "corporate setting" and as the director of Christian Education Ministries at a San Francisco mega church because he had a degree, albeit unaccredited, from Hamersfield University, according to the court documents.
A background check commissioned by the school board revealed that Carter also filed for bankruptcy in Illinois in 2012 and didn't disclose it. When asked about it, Carter said the bankruptcy filing was "due to credit card debts run up by his wife in his name during a contentious divorce" and said he later rescinded the filing and decided "not to pursue a claim against his wife" for the sake of his children, according to court documents.
Amid uncertainty, the board postponed a vote on his contract. The state Department of Education asked Carter to withdraw his application, and school leaders commissioned a local law firm to investigate his background.
The law firm hired to investigate, Shipman & Goodwin, determined his explanation was dishonest because "he was never married and he had not seen his children in years," according to the court documents.
"Also the report revealed a 1999 bankruptcy filing in California, which he did not disclose and, at first, denied," according to the court documents.
The report also found that Carter "had frequently held himself out as having a doctorate degree, including a Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Stanford University," according to the court documents.
"The report showed that his cover letter and application to the Board contained many passages that were plagiarized," according to the court documents.
Carter also was convicted of shoplifting May 25, 1983 in New Jersey, but Carter had indicated on his application that he had never been convicted of a criminal offense, Shipman & Goodwin discovered, according to the court documents.
In a statement in response to a motion from the defense for summary judgment, Carter said. "I do not have a criminal record. I gave complete and accurate information regarding my bankruptcy. I provided accurate information about my background and qualifications to the New London Board of Education in my application and in my interviews with the Board, and specifically, I did not mislead or defraud the Board concerning my educational, employment or criminal histories."
The school board voted 6-0 to rescind Carter's offer of employment.
While Carter claimed that he signed a contract and moved to Connecticut to fulfill the requirements of the superintendent job, the board argued no contract was ever finalized, according to the court documents. While Carter signed a contract, the board never signed it, according to the court documents. The court said an implied contract couldn't be held against the board, according to the court documents.
The court also ruled that the school board had the right to rescind the contract because Carter falsely represented himself with credentials that had misled the board into offering him the job in the first place, according to the court documents.
Ultimately, the court found "that the material facts are not in dispute and that the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law" and ruled in favor of the city of New London Board of Education and Curtin in Carter's lawsuit. The court also found that Curtin wasn't liable "for tortious interference" with Carter's "business expectancy."