Ain’t No Mount High Enough–Supremes To Hear School Case

Get ready for the legal showdown. City schools now operate at the direction of a state-appointed Board of Education. On Thursday lawyers for the plaintiffs will try to persuade the state Supreme Court to overturn the July 6 decision by the elected board to dissolve itself. Michele Mount (OIB handle MCAT) will argue on behalf of education candidates who wanted to run on the slate of Democratic mayoral challenger Mary-Jane Foster who was defeated by Mayor Bill Finch in a September 27  primary.

The would-be school candidates were at the center of all the legal hullabaloo that delayed the primary date two weeks. Democratic Registrar Santa Ayala invalidated Foster’s entire slate from the primary ballot as a result of one too many candidates for BOE slots. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis overturned Ayala and placed Foster and most of her slate on the ballot except for the BOE candidates. Mount and Alan Neigher were the legal team that successfully argued Foster on the ballot. But some legal observers maintained the judge was more focused on doing what was fair versus a strict legal interpretation.

Foster, some parents and former school board members in the minority filed suit against the local school board decision arguing a non-elected school board disenfranchises voters. The lawsuits they filed have been consolidated into an expedited hearing by the Supremes. A 2010 state law allows for the dissolution of an elected board under dire circumstances with some standards that must be met such as specialized training by board members to improve efficiency and implementing an action plan. Plaintiffs claim these prerequisites were not met. Mount will also argue the law unconstitutional because it strips home rule and violates free speech.

Mount will be going up against accomplished civil defense lawyers including John Bohannon, a seasoned attorney who has handled many cases on behalf of the City Attorney’s Office and Steven Ecker, an appellate specialist considered among his peers one of the brilliant legal minds in the state with loads of experience arguing cases before the state Supremes.

What say you, is the city better off with a state-controlled board to fix a troubled school system or should voters elect school board members?



  1. I may have missed something along the way but can anyone tell me the actual reason the elected members of the BOE were dissolved? This board had a 6 to 3 voting majority so the argument they could not get along and could not get anything done is BS.
    We now have an appointed board that is made up of a majority of out-of-towners telling us how to run the school system.
    I am not sure how they are going to make things better. When my grandson’s teacher is out sick or on a personal day there is no substitute teacher hired. Instead his class and the other 7th-grade class are split up and put in the lower grades. My grandson was sent to kindergarten to help the teacher for 2 days.
    The other day in a Bridgeport school there was a mandatory teachers meeting for 9 teachers. The kids in those classes were split up and class sizes went from 23 to 43. Does this sound like an improvement?
    Now this appointed group is going to select the new Supt. of schools who we will be stuck with no matter what.
    This new BOE is bullshit.
    It’s too bad we can’t get rid of the common council in the same manner.

  2. I was at Bassick when the three finalists addressed the parents and it was very clear Acting superintendent Tolbert was over the hill and didn’t have a chance and Ramos was just an empty suit singing Kumbaya and spouting platitudes.

    There was a third candidate from California who wowed an overwhelmingly minority audience … Young asst. superintendent white guy who had been a H.S. dropout, went into the the service, came out, got an education and went into troubled schools and was a dynamo.

    But the fix was in way beforehand for Ramos.

    So as far as I am concerned, a state-appointed board can’t do any worse. Remember, these braniacs also gave us Salcedo who had been been fired from every other district for incompetence.

    In education, much like Bridgeport City Hall, it seems there is an “Old Boy (or Girl)” network that takes care of their own. That explains Ramos, Henry, Didonato, etc.

    Judging by the improved behavior at BOE meetings and asking tough questions of O&G regarding Columbus School, Trefry and company are off to a good start.

  3. The ends do not justify the means. This new board is not beholden to the Democratic Town Committee where most of the members or their immediate families work for the city or Board of Ed. This new board can make decisions that are in the best interests of Bridgeport children. However the Supremes are hearing this case because the residents were stripped of their elected board in a manner that didn’t follow the new law. Or just maybe the new law is unconstitutional.

    If the Supremes do rule as I expect that the board was improperly seated, what happens then? The Supremes send the case back to the lower court for a remedy. What remedy? A special election? New Board of Ed candidates nominated by the same conflicted DTC that nominated the last bunch? The last six were incapable of making the hard decisions and they were in the majority! Until Bridgeport voters cure the problems with the DTC we will continue to get nominees for office that, with a very few exceptions, hold the interests of the DTC above the overall best interest of all the residents and in this case our school children. There had better be a remedy thought through that keeps this new board in place through the school year until there is a primary where good strong independent thinkers challenge the DTC-nominated slate and a special election that puts the best of the best on the Board of Ed. Then there had better be a charter revision commission convened ASAP to change the charter to come up with a Board of Finance and a blended Board of Ed. Wake up, Bridgeport!

  4. town committee, it is my understanding the BOE “6” decided they could no longer perform their duties as BOE members although they were the majority in every vote of the BOE. Why they didn’t just resign is another question.

    1. Ron, as far as I am concerned the BOE 6 should be arrested for fraud. They represented themselves as elected members of the BOE and took an oath of office. They are part of a bigger scheme I can’t at this point figure out. Shame on all 6 of them. Can you imagine one of these 6 is again running for a seat on the council and in all probability the dumb asses in her district will elect her again?


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