Baker Resigns School Board Seat

Andre Baker
Andre Baker

Elected with a trifecta of insurgents that knocked off three Democratic endorsed candidates in a 2013 primary, State Rep. Andre Baker on Monday resigned from the Board of Education citing demands of parenting, his legislative seat and funeral director profession.

“It’s time to focus being a state rep, fatherhood and funeral business,” Baker wrote in a text message to OIB.

Baker was elected to the board with Democrats Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner. Hennessey, early this year, switched his affiliation to Republican and then resigned. Citing the Bridgeport City Charter and state statute, Mayor Joe Ganim named Republican Annette Segarra to replace Hennessey after the school board could not agree on a replacement in 30 days. The City Charter states that the remaining active school board members will fill a vacancy within the same party affiliation as the resignation, but does not specify a time to fill it. Opponents to Segarra’s appointment are planning a court challenge arguing that since Hennessey was elected as a Democrat his replacement must be from the same affiliation as well as asserting the charter does not specify a time frame for replacement. Ganim cited state law to fill the appointment.

Meanwhile the school board will go about the business of trying to find a replacement for Baker from the Democratic Party.



  1. May the force be with you, Andre Baker. We first met when you were on the City Council curious and thoughtful, trying to find more info than was usually available from the City. Over meetings to review and understand the financial reports and connect them to the reality of City action, we got to know each other better. I witnessed the difficulty you had as a City Council representative, trying to get a straight answer from City administrators, when you attended Budget meetings though you were not on that Committee. You were relentless, but always pretty pleasant about it.

    Then you moved to the Board of Education where the fiscal information was more available including answers to fiscal questions addressed to the CFO. However, school funding issues bogged down and attempts by Board members to find priority issues on which they could agree and focus always seemed a little out of reach. Meanwhile you ran for State Rep and defended your seat recently, successfully.

    We may not agree on everything but respect does not require that. I know you try to learn and understand the issues and that is a good thing for City residents. Increasing focus on your family, your business, and your District representation by resigning from the BOE seems like a reasonable decision at this time. Hope this focus will benefit the people of the City mightily. Time will tell.

  2. I would like to commend Andre Baker for doing the right thing. He often missed meetings or arrived very late.

    We have already raised half the retainer to go to court to remove Ms. Negron, and we feel very confident we will win.

    She had five tax liens sold on a two-family home she receives two rental incomes on. She paid 2011, 2012, and 2013 in March 2016. She just paid 2014 in May or June. She has another tax lien on the home she resides in for not paying her WPCA bill. This is not someone who had a short period of past-due taxes, which can happen for a variety of reasons and is understandable. Five years is just unacceptable.

    I adamantly believe those who don’t pay their taxes should not be able to make decisions about funds generated by those who do pay their taxes.

    Good luck, Andre.

    1. And who cares other than you? You’re nothing more than a bully who cares about no one other than you and your stupid agenda. You put the safety of the city’s children at peril for your silly axe-grinding BS. If one kid gets hurt after you pushed for layoffs, I hope people remember who put them in harm’s way.

        1. Better a coward than a vile, miserable, vulgar, crackpot no one likes. Karma will bite you soon enough. You can’t continue to treat people so poorly and expect sympathy. It’s why you lost the election, you twit.

          1. “… It’s why you lost the election, you twit …”

            Come on Phantom, you’ve been involved in politics for a lot of years. You saw the results of the Stallworth vs Pereira race. Looks like a lot of people liked her despite everything thrown at her. It’s hard for a Piranha to chomp down on a prey that walks on water.

          2. I lost the election due to illegal expenditures, illegal coordination, and a slanderous piece of literature all which are being addressed through legal channels.

            These tactics aren’t used because you believe your candidate is winning. They are utilized because your candidate is losing.

            Stallworth is a three-term incumbent in a predominantly black district, had charter schools spend twice as much as I utilized and that number is yet to include the East End PAC. And they put out thousands of slanderous pieces of literature that were hand-delivered in T Hooker, Read, Hallen, and Wilbur Cross Schools.

            We have witnesses in every one of those precincts who are willing to testify.

            Stallworth also has the power of the pulpit.

            And with all that, I lost by 43 votes. I also won his own school in his backyard. He didn’t come close to beating me at Thomas Hooker.

            Do you think you can do better, you “twit?”

      1. The vote to eliminate the SROs was 6 to 2. A Republican, a WFP member, and four Democrats voted in favor in a non-partisan vote.

        In November 2013 we had 10 SROs. Quietly, and without the knowledge and approval of the BOE, as five SROs retired, Lt. Grech and our CFO with Ms. Rabinowitz’ stamp of approval never filled the positions and redirected the funds to security guards, which do not have the power of arrest.

        Lt. Grech and Ms. Rabinowitz reduced the SROs by 50%, but suddenly they are so concerned about a lack of SROs in our schools. Hmmm.

        Of the five remaining SROs, we have the president of NAGE who has not performed a single SRO shift in over 2-1/2 years, but costs the BOE $100,000 annually.

        Then we have SRO Babey who has been assigned to the front desk of 999 Broad St. assisting with checking in visitors, who costs the BOE over $100,000 annually.

        That leaves three SROs to cover 37 schools, over 21,000 students, and over 3,000 staff members. And although the Board voted in November 2013 that the BPD was to stop directing our SROs off school grounds to handle car accidents, domestic violence calls, cover the city parks, service state, parochial, charter schools, etc. they refused to do so and flagrantly disregarded the will of the BOE.

        In addition, if any of the SROs were injured on a city call; the BOE would be 100% responsible for any Worker’s Compensation claim.

        We have a $15,000,000 deficit because the Governor, the Legislature, the Mayor, and the 20 member City Council voted to give the BOE a ZERO increase.

        None of the choices are good choices, but if the choice is spending slightly over $500,000 on SROs who are often not on school grounds completing the job the BOE pays them to do or funding certified or support staff that works directly with students, the choice was fairly easy for me.

        My only regret is the loss of SROs Steve Vitka and Jonathan Foresteir who I thought were excellent, conscientious, and committed employees.

        1. Maria, thank you for sharing your position on the SRO issue. There are about 180 school days. During the time schools are closed, the buildings are secured with alarms and cameras. What do SROs do when schools are closed or out of session?

          Has the BOE considered hiring part-time or as-needed SROs? Wouldn’t doing this allow the BOE to double the size of the unit? It would also release Lt. Gretch to handle other BPD matters. What’s their union position? Are the SROs NAGE members? I know poor Dwayne Harrison is NAGE president.

          1. All SROs are/were NAGE members. We have over 2,000 students in our schools over the summer for summer school, summer camps, etc.
            It is fairly obvious the President of NAGE, Dwyane Harrison cut a deal with Mayor Ganim that he would push through union concessions as long as his job was saved.

            I believe he can only bump into one NAGE position which is the parks officer but he is missing a certification and maybe trying to claim an exception.

        2. Maria, I will give you some credit. You’re not entirely wrong. The officer in charge of running the SRO unit is a fool and should have used them strictly in schools. He bears tons of blame if what you say is correct, however laying off the officers probably wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. Get rid of the man in charge of them.

          1. Dennis Bradley and Joe Larcheveque who pretends to be a Republican but is in Danny Roach’s back pocket. In fact, his wife is on Danny Roach’s Town Committee.

          1. I hate, really hate to have to admit Danny Roach fell in line with Ganim/Testa. A BOE member’s wife is on Danny’s TC, and his sister is on the City Council. Early on in Ganim’s primary there was really no interest in who was running for the CC or the Town or City Clerks. The entire focus was on Ganim and Ganim alone. However there was one district that didn’t make sense to me, for a minute. In the 130th council district, Katie and Burns accepted the nomination knowing they would be on Finch’s line. Ironically, no one was selected to run on the Ganim line, so by design, Katie and Burns were in a win-win situation. If Ganim lost, Danny would have some leverage, if Ganim won, he had two reliable supporters on the Council. Right from the get-go, they were conniving.

      1. $10,000. No, you cannot sue for damages.

        Once we provide the retainer we expect to have the lawsuit filed in 7-10 days. It isn’t a complicated case.

        1. Maria, there isn’t an attorney out there willing to take the case pro bono? Doesn’t there have to be a person who was injured or denied the opportunity to serve on the BOE in order for the court to allow the case to proceed? A retainer means there will be some more billing to follow. It may not be a complicated case, but that doesn’t mean it’s a winnable case. Strong evidence and serious grilling of witnesses can sway a judge in one’s favor. Ford and Bradley really believed they had Ed Gomes bagged, then came the Judge.

          1. Joel, good point. What a shame volunteer public servants, in all capacities, are forced to take legal action, at their own expense, to reverse bad decisions made by those in positions of authority and paid with taxpayer money. This would be an incredible opportunity for a new attorney to take these cases, pro bono, it would serve them well as they continued forward in their professions. I remember a young, aspiring attorney who did just that approximately 26 years ago, the judge returned a decision that made clear a Charter provision that had been misunderstood prior to that time. There is now clarity, with no challenge on this particular issue and always will be. That young attorney eventually went on to test his own political goals, and has been elected mayor twice. Yes, Joe Ganim, once the knight in shining armor volunteering his legal knowledge to avoid ambiguity in the future, and now he creates it.

  3. Andre,
    We were just getting to know and trust each other. I will miss you. You were a quiet intellect and I wish you well. Hopefully, this will give you some time to spend with your beautiful family.

  4. First, congratulations to Andre Baker for his primary win. Mr. Baker is a fine representative for the city of Bridgeport. I expect he will do great things.

    To Ms. Phantom, so easy to attack people undercover, but no matter what Maria Pereira’s agenda is and whether we agree or not, she does her homework. It takes time to dig this stuff up. When you have time on your hands, you do constructive things. Maria does not have a hidden agenda. Everyone reading this blog knows Maria is out to get rid of Mayor Ganim’s appointment. That is her goal and she will most likely get her way or give enough people headaches along the way. You have to admire her tenacity. I do.

    1. Thanks, Steve. I take great pride in conducting thorough research and making statements rooted in fact.

      Let’s look at Andre Baker’s attendance/tardiness record on the BOE.

      Since December 2013, he missed 36% of our Special Meetings and when he did attend he was late 22% of the time.

      Since September 2014, he was absent 20% of scheduled Finance Committee meetings and was late 10% of the time.

      Since December 2013, he was absent 33% of our Regular Meetings and late 30% of the time.

      Since February 2014, he was absent from the Facilities/Operations meetings 62% of the time and late 15% of the time.

      I honestly don’t believe the attendance and tardiness rates demonstrate “dedication” by any reasonable standard. In order to demonstrate a true level of “professionalism” one must at least show up; preferably on time.

      1. Maria, I am a fan of Andre Baker and have been following his political career for 10 years. I have never heard a bad word about Mr. Baker.

        Phantom, Maria calls you a coward. I think most readers on the blog are equally unimpressed with your nasty vile comments you accuse Maria of. The difference is we all know Maria. The good the bad and the ugly. We do not know you but you must be an awfully special piece of shit to have an anonymous handle and continually instigating with the safety of being a ghost. I blog when it serves my purpose. I am not the entertainment of a vile bitch like yourself. I call it like it is. I like Maria Pereira and I do not have to agree with 87 percent 🙂 of her politics. She has other fine qualities and she pretty much has her facts straight.

        1. Buy much lip gloss? Did you read all the nice things others in the city wrote about her in the Connecticut Post? I doubt it as you seem to want to keep her off your back as she’s so pleasant to be around.

        2. I agree with you Steven, except for the insult. I never worried about people with handles on this or any blog. Loose lips (gloss or no gloss) sink ships. In this situation we are really talking about loose fingers and I know a lot about that. Write too much and your cover is blown.

      2. You take great pride in conducting research? Too bad you did not do more research before you brought us Mayor Ganim. Let us not gloss over the fact many of the issues you rail against were caused by you. You (et al.) brought Ganim and Hennessey, Baker, Fran. These were all your doing. You do not get to be a hero for cleaning up your own messes.

        1. BOE SPY, Hennessey was brought in by his dear friend Rob Traber who told all of us how wonderful he was. I did not know him until he attended a meeting at the BEA office.

          Black leaders brought in Andre Baker. I barely knew him and had nothing to do with his running for the BOE.

          I had absolutely NOTHING to do with Fran Rabinowitz’ hiring. I was not on the BOE and the first time I ever heard her name was at a meeting where they were discussing applicants to become the interim superintendent. I ended my first term on the BOE in November 2013. She was hired March 2014.

          You need to learn how to conduct basic research so you can post facts, not fantasy.

          I “brought us …” You don’t live in Bridgeport so I didn’t bring YOU anything.

          1. So you never endorsed any of those people? I will not find a picture of you proclaiming the virtues of the ‘challenge’ slate? No OIB post of you fawning over pre-charter school Fran or recommending her appointment as a Vallas replacement? You claim to never lie but a half-truth is still a lie.

            You left out any denial of my ‘your buddy’ Ganim claim.

    1. Phil Smith, there are eight other BOE members remaining, One is too new to gauge her level of dedication and professionalism. I’ve seen to a degree a fair level of dedication and professionalism from the rest of the seven remaining BOE members. I’m speaking as a parent of two district students who keeps tabs on the activities at the BOE and City Government.

  5. Sadly, if some of the comments above are any indication, the Board of Education is headed for another round of debates that put politics and personalities ahead of the best interests of Bridgeport’s kids.

    1. “… if some of the comments above are any indication …”

      Phil Smith, as of the time of this comment of yours, there are two comments from BOE members and one who speaks for three other BOE members. I know you’re not talking about Ben Walker. Go ahead and direct your comment at Maria Pereira. I still disagree with you. The discussions and debates at BOE meetings are very interesting and revealing. I wish I could download the videos from my last BOE meeting on YouTube.

  6. I know, Mr. Smith. Shame on Ms. Baraka, Mr. Gardner, Mr. Walker and myself for standing up to a unethical, immoral and power-hungry mayor who appointed a BOE member to fill a BOE vacancy he has absolutely no authority to fill.

    A Mayor who clearly isn’t overstepping his legal authority because of “politics” and/or “personalities” but because he cares deeply about the 21,000 BPS students he did not allocate a single additional $ to.

    We do not want any political hacks appointed to the Board because enough of them have been elected.

    There are only four BOE members who regularly attend committee meetings and put in extensive hours, and Kevin McSpirit is good to work with as well. I honestly thinks he cares about the work but is easily swayed. However, I do respect him.

    1. Maria,
      First, I have been at least as outspoken as anyone, including you, in my opposition to the Mayor’s efforts to fill the vacancy on the Board of Education. That is true even though I know and respect the person whom he appointed. For me it is a question of principle.

      You pat yourself on the back for “standing up to a unethical, immoral and power-hungry mayor who appointed a BOE member to fill a BOE vacancy he has absolutely no authority to fill.” When? Where?

      Almost two months ago I suggested that the Board of Education “oppose the Mayor’s efforts to inject himself into the appointment process and take steps–including going to court if necessary–in order to prevent him from doing so.” (OIB 6/25)

      Has the Board even considered doing that? Have you, or any Board member, offered a motion to that effect?

      Has any Board member gone to Court to block the Mayor’s actions? No. Yes, you have talked about doing that, but no legal action has been filed.

      Of course, all of this is a moot point if the Board does its job and fills the vacancy within the next 30 days. That won’t happen unless the search is focused on more than the balance of power on the Board.

      In my view, the new Board member should be a Democrat (Charter Requirement) independent of any faction who will consider, but not be controlled by, the opinions of administrators, teachers, unions, reform groups, personalities or politicians. That person should be guided by one clear goal: To do what is best for Bridgeport’s kids and its schools and only what is best of them.

      1. Mr. Smith, we cannot seek relief until action is taken. He quietly swore in Ms. Negron on a Saturday just three weeks before the Primary.

        He issued a press release he was going to appoint Ms. Negron on June 28th. Within minutes of the press conference he canceled it. We believe that is because he found out Ms. Negron had still not paid her 2014 tax lien. She paid it on July 1st according to MCAT which purchased her lien.

        She still has a WPCA lien on her Garden St. home.

        The Mayor took action, therefore we will now take action as well.

  7. Again, it is obvious the BOE is going to be split 4 to 4 and Joe Ganim will again select Baker’s replacement. I don’t find anything amusing with Baker stepping down now. It further demonstrates how Mario Testa is the puppeteer controlling the strings of some Democrats on the BOE and Baker was one of them. Had he dropped out when Hennessey dropped out, the master plan of the Republican and Democratic Parties would not work. This is one way of having mayoral appointments of BOE members to keep control of the BOE majority. Having said this, I was asked if I wanted the BOE to hold my resume as another BOE member was going to resign in the future and that since I was not a Republican, I will not be interviewed. I expect the BOE to honor my resume and make sure I’m considered by the BOE. I even expect Joe Ganim to meet with me if he is going to proceed to pick a replacement. I know they have one person in mind and it’s not me as I haven’t nor should anyone be kissing up to anyone to have an advantage.

    1. We could care less whom Mayor Ganim wants on the BOE. We feel very confident we will win in court. If we do, we will have a majority on the BOE for a full year and will accomplish quite a bit.

        1. Mr. Smith, since March 2009, how many BOE meetings have you attended? I don’t recall seeing you but that could be my error or memory.

          A majority can be achieved in a variety of ways. 🙂

          1. There are those of us who have no kids in the Bridgeport schools and it is not necessary we attend BOE meetings. Remember, we PAY TAXES YOU DON’T. Maria, stick that how many meetings have you attended question where the sun don’t shine. Mr. Smith has done more for Bridgeport in a positive way than you will do in 100 years.

          2. Andy, take your meds. There are those of us who for years haven’t had the need of calling the firefighters to extinguish a fire in our home or business. We need to educated our kids as much as we need to provide public safety for the sake of us all.

    2. Joel, the Mayor has ZERO authority to fill a BOE vacancy. None.

      The only individuals who can appoint a BOE member are the remaining BOE members. There is NO 30-day timeframe.

  8. Every single board member should quit. You have accomplished very little in the field of education. You have not improved the dropout rate, you have not modernized the curriculum for kids not going to college. Basically all of you are full of it.

  9. Andy,
    You are looking for “results” that can be indicated on a scoreboard for those who do not attend meetings, those who do not follow minutes or budgets but wish to have some minimal idea of progress or status quo. I have not heard the BOE has created such for their own guidance as well as for the rest of the community.
    On one hand, Maria has offered data on attendance and timeliness on one or more members, but data representing results from BOE and classroom action is not offered to measure how the time, talent and wisdom of any, and all, members may be measured. Aren’t we overdue to set up expectations for the public, including parents, pupils and professionals? Time will tell.

  10. JML,
    What do you mean when you say:
    “Aren’t we overdue to set up expectations for the public, including parents, pupils and professionals?”
    More standardized testing? More Charter Schools?
    I think first and foremost we are due for a permanent Superintendent to begin to provide their professional insight and vision for the Bridgeport School System. This is the first problem that MUST be addressed. We had Paul Vallas who was not a professional educator but merely a professional politician and bureaucrat. And now we have an acting Super who isn’t super but merely acting.

  11. Bob Walsh,
    What do I mean? Read it again, please. What are the expectations? All children earning meaningful high school graduation certificates after 12 years of public dollars, local and State spent? Students attending classes at the beginning of each session and having minimal absences during the school year? Teachers in the classroom ready to teach subject matter in the best manner possible and without numerous days when substitutes are called on to run study halls?

    Basic expectations Superintendent, BOE, parents, students, and taxpayers can generally agree upon, first? Then set up ways to measure their achievement and trends that are publicly shared, tweaked if necessary and upgraded when accomplished? And a community that gets behind City side “blindness” to operating school expense and is present at all City Council budget sessions to remind Council of 22,000 kids who will start out the next school year with the City Council finding only 10% of the necessary money? What are your markers to track, Troll? Time will tell.

  12. Bobby, you are absolutely correct in your observations the change should start at the top. If everyone is truly concerned about changing the culture of failure the children of Bridgeport have to endure then they are entitled to the best Superintendent of Education and not the best for right now.

    While I must admit I know little or nothing about Ms. Rabinowitz, if she is indeed the best then she should be able to compete against others during a National search for a Superintendent. If her credentials can’t stand against a more qualified candidate then the youth of Bridgeport are entitled to the very best Superintendent whether it’s her or not.

    1. Don, great points but have you noticed how out-of-town people come to Bridgeport for a minute then they are running for elected office? Remember Paul Vallas, Superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools and was in office 2012–2014? But before that he was Superintendent of the Recovery School District of Louisiana and he was in office 2007–2012. Then he leaves Bridgeport and he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 2014 with incumbent Governor Pat Quinn, and they lost. Next comes David Walker, he’s here less than three years and runs for Lieutenant Governor in the Republican Party’s primary and he gets defeated. There must be something in the air around here.

      Now there’s Fran Rabinowitz, who is the interim superintendent of the Bridgeport public school system after a seven-year run as superintendent of schools in Hamden, but what has she done in the two years in office here in Bridgeport for our children in school?

      1. Ron, I don’t think much has been accomplished. Lack of money from the state. I wonder why the rich school districts keep getting millions in state aid and the cities are given the scraps?
        I will say this, trying to get anything done with this elected school board is impossible.

  13. And Ron, let’s not forget Fran Rabinowitz is related to former Superintendent Jim Connelly, who is very close to Mario Testa.
    So the inner circle gets tighter.
    And Maria can fill in the blanks on how much longer Fran can serve under state law.

    1. Bob, so what? Connelly was a good super. Let’s blame everything on Testa including the flooding in Baton Rouge and the riots in Milwaukee. Get over it.

      1. Andy, you’re right. Jim was a qualified superintendent, and in addition he knew how to navigate through the politics that plagued him. He was skillful, but not owned by any Mayor, at least to the best that I remember. I never met Fran R., but based on what I hear and read she’s too involved with playing politics with those who blow smoke up her ___. She has instigated outside interference and treats all BOE members as though they work for her. She strikes me as an instigator and enjoys the drama. I’m realistic enough to know no one, regardless of their position, can get caught up in this City’s politics, but I think she’s over the top. Donald made the most sense. It would make it a lot easier if his suggestion were followed.

  14. *** Baker’s no fool, BOE pays no money and it’s a thankless city position that for every one good thing that’s achieved for public education, they take two steps backward by political infighting and moving much too slow on simple daily agendas, which ends up doing nothing meaningful after long hours in meetings! Parents and public speakers taking over too much time interrupting BOE meetings. Between his funeral business and the State Rep’s job traveling back and forth North and South, it’s a wonder he has any personal time at all. Maybe now he can do a better job for Bpt in general. Good Luck, Andre! ***

  15. Now, I believe all the excuses have been exhausted. I am interested in the Board of Ed seat vacated by Rep Baker. Lennie, could you post the contact info of the BOE members?

    1. Hector, I have a question, you want to be on the BOE, right? Then why would you want Lennie to post the contact info of the BOE members? By Lennie doing that you are opening the door for others to follow instead of you just getting the information just for yourself. Hey, that’s just me.


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