UPDATED to include Howard Gardner’s “21,000 Children Held Hostage” Op-Ed also printed in the CT Post.
Is there a penalty for publicly breaking an oath of office?
The four non-boycotting BOE members held a press conference at 6:30 Monday evening at Geraldine Johnson School.
COMMITTED BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBERS BARAKA, GARDNER, PEREIRA AND WALKER INSIST THE BOYCOTTING MEMBERS FULFILL THEIR LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES.
WE CALL ON CHAIR BRADLEY, VICE-CHAIR LARCHEVEQUE, AND MEMBER MCSPIRIT TO FULFILL THEIR LEGALLY MANDATED RESPONSIBILITIES TO OUR OVER 21,000 BRIDGEPORT PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.
ALL THESE BOARD MEMBERS TOOK THE FOLLOWING OATH:
“You solemnly swear or solemnly and sincerely affirm, as the case may be, that you will faithfully discharge, according to law, your duties as a Board of Education (BOE) member to the best of your abilities; so help you God or upon penalty of perjury.”
BRIDGEPORT–We have critical work that needs to be accomplished in a timely matter, which includes the following:
• The search for a permanent Superintendent
• The return of 47 laid-off kindergarten paraprofessionals
• School Safety Plans for all 37 Bridgeport Public Schools
• The hiring of key administrators
• The filling of two Board vacancies
These BOE Members have abdicated their duties as mandated by state statute 10-220 by refusing to work with their elected colleagues by failing to attend regularly scheduled Board of Education meetings. We join the call of the citizens of Bridgeport insisting the boycotting members of the Board return to the table to complete critical work on behalf of our 21,000 Bridgeport Public School students.
Please join us tomorrow for a press conference:
Date: Monday, September 26, 2016, 6:30pm
Geraldine Johnson School
475 Lexington Avenue
Howard Gardner’s “21,000 CHildren Held Hostage in Bridgeport” Op-Ed
Once again we see the true colors of BBOE chair Dennis Bradley and co-conspirators Larcheveque, McSpirit and Interim Superintendent Rabinowitz as they demonstrate before the eyes of every citizen of this city their misguided priority. The Board members of this group have conspired to basically shut down the functions of the Bridgeport Board of Education; the work that they were elected to perform. The pretext of their motive: make a political statement against one of their members, Maria Pereira, whose style and approach one may argue against, but whose only crime against Bradley, Rabinowitz and their cohorts is that she demands that we operate by the rules, we are transparent and accountable.
To be very clear, this latest skirmish by this very irresponsible group is a subterfuge to distract from the inevitable outcome of a lawsuit that Ms. Pereira has brought against Mayor Joe Ganim. This lawsuit challenges the Mayor for overreaching his authority and unlawfully appointing Ms. Annette Segarra-Negron to fill the board seat vacated by Dave Hennessey.
A secondary reason for their boycott is the fear of not having a majority vote at regular board meetings, as Ms. Negron has ostensibly decided to no longer attend meetings of the board.
In this group’s warped minds it is more important to create a pretext of “Chaos”–we can’t conduct business with the “irreverent” behavior of Pereira–than to continue to work towards creating a better learning environment for the 21,000 children of this district. At one point or another I’ve heard Bradley, Larcheveque, Rabinowitz and McSpirit utter these words, “we need to focus on what’s best for the children.” From this time forth, these words shall echo hollow from the mouths of these individuals.
It is shameful how they are trying to derail the process with their sophomoric tactics, but it is doubly shameful that the interim superintendent is party to this embarrassment, and has ordered her staff not to attend committee meetings being held by the rest of board members who are continuing with the work of the board. How amazing, the interim superintendent has ordered her staff not to provide information to members of the board to whom she reports. I wonder how this would play out in the corporate world.
The public’s image of the board oftentimes is limited to what they receive via sound bites and video clips from the media covering regularly scheduled board meetings, but the real work of the board is being done in committees. Once again, I invite the public to go to the Bridgeport Board of Education’s website, then to Board of Education, Board of Education Meeting and Agenda and read some of the committee meeting minutes for school year 2015-2016. Please do so to appreciate which members of the board are truly committed to improving the education of the 21,000 children in Bridgeport. By their absence from these committee meetings it is obvious which members are less committed.
I implore the so-called “boycotting” members of this board to return to the table, and let’s get back to the work of the district and the interest of the 21,000 children you are currently holding hostage. Let them go! We have much work to do; including but not limited to the finding a way to get 47 paraprofessionals back into kindergarten classrooms, hiring administrators for schools without assistant principals, addressing deficiencies in our special education processes and procedures as mandated by the State’s Bureau of Special Education and completing the process of finding a permanent superintendent to provide the district with long-term leadership.
Dennis Bradley, Joe Larcheveque and Kevin McSpirit, it is better to return to the business at hand, and have the public question if you are the “empty suits,” as portrayed by my colleague Pereira, than to continue in your folly and remove all doubts.