Last week the Bridgeport Board of Education conducted its first meeting as an elected body since July of 2011 when a majority vote dissolved the elected school district in support of state control of schools that was eventually overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court. A coalition of four school board members argued based on the legal assertion of retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, a supporter of the group, Leticia Colon gave up her right to serve on the board when she was elected to the City Council. Colon recently resigned from the council to satisfy language in the City Charter that prohibits a member of the city’s legislative body from serving on another board. In a written opinion, City Attorney Mark Anastasi declares that Colon is a “duly elected member” of the school board. See his rationale below:
It is the opinion of the Office of the City Attorney that Ms. Leticia Colon is a duly elected member of the Board of Education for the City of Bridgeport (“Local Board”). This is rendered upon consideration of the following pertinent facts and circumstances:
• The Bridgeport City Charter states in pertinent part at Chapter, 5, Sec. 5 (g) (2): “No person while holding office as a member of the city council shall be a member of any of the boards of the city …”
• Leticia Colon was elected to a 4 year term on the Local Board on or about November 3, 2009.
• On or about July 5, 2011 the Local Board voted pursuant to C.G.S. 10-223(e) to request the CT State Board of Education (“State Board”) to authorize the CT State Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) to reconstitute the Local Board.
• On or about July 6, 2011 the State Board voted to authorize the Commissioner to reconstitute the Local Board.
• On or about August 5 and 16,2011 the Commissioner, appointed seven (7) new members to the Local Board.
• On or about November 8, 2011, Leticia Colon was elected to a two (2) year term for the position of City Council Member for the 131st Council District of the Bridgeport City Council.
• On or about March 13, 2012 the CT Supreme Court released a decision and opinion in the consolidated matters of Maria Pereira, et al. v. State Board of Education et al.; Robert Walsh et. al. v. State Board of Education, et. al.; Laurayne Farrar-James et. of. v. Board of Education of the City of Bridgeport, et. al. concluding that the State Board’s failure to require the local board to undergo and complete training, as required by § 10-223e (h), rendered void the State Board’s authorization to the Commissioner to reconstitute the local Board. The CT Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court with direction to set a date for a special election for the Local Board for the four (4) seats that would have been filled by the November 2011 municipal elections. The CT Supreme Court also stated: “… the trial court shall direct that the seven current members of the reconstituted board remain in office until the special election has been completed. At that time, the trial court shall reinstate the five members of the local board whose terms of office have not expired, to serve along with the four newly elected members.”
• On or about April 18, 2012 the Superior Court, Agati, J. issued an Order (copy attached).
• On or about September 4, 2012 four new members were elected to the BPT BOE bringing the Board to its full complement of nine (9) members.
• On September 5, 2012, the Head Moderator for the September 4, 2012 Special Election filed his set of election returns in accordance with c.G.S. Sec. 9-314(b).
• On September 7, 2012, the BPT Town Clerk certified the results of the Special Election and the BPT Registrars of Voters reported the results of the election to the CT Superior Court.
• On or about September 7,2012, the Republican and Democratic Registrars of Voters notified the Court that final certification of the special election results was completed.
• On September 7,2012, the Superior Court, Agati, J. issued an Order that reinstated the five (5) members of the local Board whose terms of office have not expired and entered judgment in accordance with this order (copy attached).
• That same day, on or about September 7, 2012, Leticia Colon, in reliance upon BPT Charter, Chapter 5, Sec. 5 (g) (2) submitted her written resignation to the Bridgeport City and Town Clerks.