Hundreds call for Norwalk school board leader to be removed

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Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Colin Hosten is facing calls for his removal.

Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Colin Hosten is facing calls for his removal.

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NORWALK — Amid backlash over the school district's proposed changes for middle schoolers, hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for Colin Hosten to be removed as chairman of the Board of Education.

The petition has been launched as the school district revised plans for its Middle School Choice initiative to change middle school enrollment into a lottery-based system that would allow students to rank their choices of schools, which would each offer specialized programs. 

The petition, titled “Removal of Norwalk Public School Board of Ed. Chairman Colin Hosten,” has amassed more than 800 of its 1,000 signature goal on 

The description of the petition explains that Hosten’s “lack of experience, personal agenda, and non transparency on crucial issues has led to increased problems culminating with the ‘Middle School Choice’ program which is simply NOT a choice.” 

“He has no children in the Norwalk Public Schools and has systematically been involved in decision making without input from the community,” the petition stated.

In response to the call for his removal, Hosten did not comment specifically on the petition.

“A recent NPS communication to fifth grade families included some wording that unfortunately led many families to be understandably concerned about the process of middle school assignment,” Hosten wrote in a statement to Hearst Connecticut Media Group. 

In his statement, Hosten focused on the middle school plan and praised families for their "engagement" in the process.

“The intent of the proposal is only to give families more autonomy when planning their children’s education, not less,” Hosten wrote in the statement. “To be clear, every student who wishes to attend their local feeder middle school will continue to be able to do so. The new choice proposal adds transportation options for families who may wish to explore academic pathways at another school.”

One month after being elected to the Common Council, Hosten resigned and joined the school board in 2019 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy after Bruce Kimmel resigned. Hosten was appointed board chair in 2020 and then won reelection to a second term last year.

Hosten, who comes from a family of educators, is a lecturer at Fairfield University. He also is involved with book production and is an editor for a literary journal, according to his LinkedIn, which also states that he holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Morehouse College, a master's in publishing from New York University and a master's in nonfiction creative writing from Fairfield University.

Nora King, a Norwalk parent and former elected official who is now a Parent Teacher Organization Council representative, believes Hosten should resign from the board because he does not have a firm grasp of what children and parents are seeking.

“He's totally unqualified for chairman of the board,” King said. “He has no clue what parents want, what children want."

King said she believes Hosten does not hold Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella "and her team accountable for what parents and kids want across the city of Norwalk, and he should.”

The Norwalk Board of Education has recently experienced the difficulty of removing a member. In 2019, Mike Barbis, who was also chair of the board at the time, faced calls for his removal and resignation after he was accused of using racist and offensive language in an email that was leaked to the public. Barbis refused to resign and he remained a member of the board.

Patrice McCarthy, deputy director and general counsel of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, said Thursday the state "does not provide for the removal or recall of any public official from their position as a member of the body." 

According to Norwalk Board of Education policy, members could remove Hosten's chairman title by a two-thirds majority vote, but he would remain a member of the board.

In recent weeks, parents raised concerns about the district's original middle school plan, which they said would remove the neighborhood feel while busing students to other parts of the city. They also criticized district officials for planning a virtual town hall meeting about the topic instead of meeting in person. A group of parents gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday night to protest the issue.

The district is planning an in-person meeting for middle and high school families for Monday night. A location has not yet been determined.

Contact Faith Marnecheck at