Death Of Democracy Or Pragmatic Reforms? School Board Amends Bylaws Challenged By Minority Vote

Streamline meandering meetings or silence the indomitable roar of Maria Pereira? Whatever the case the Board of Education Wednesday night voted to overhaul its bylaws at a special meeting. The action starts at the 11-minute mark of the video.

CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck was on the scene:

The 6-to-3 majority also voted to suspend rules so the changes will take effect immediately. Normally, policy changes sit a month before being adopted.

Board Chairman John Weldon said his aim was to streamline future board meetings and strip the bylaw of rules he said lead to micromanagement and five-hour-long meetings where little gets accomplished.

… “The super majority (is) clearly frightened by minority voices on the board,” Pereira said. “Your inability to tolerate different points of view is self-evident in this attempted coup prepared in secrecy.”

… The new document gives the chair control over what is placed on the agenda, requires board members to get the superintendent’s permission to visit schools or talk to staff, and allows the board chair to consult with the board attorney without board approval. It now takes four board members to call a special meeting instead of three and allows the adoption of new bylaws by a simple majority rather than a two-thirds vote.

Full story here.

Pereira has set up a fundraising page. “Your donation will be utilized to hire a reputable and experienced attorney to file a lawsuit against these six members of the Bridgeport Board of Education to overturn these illegally crafted and approved Bylaws.”



  1. I was there. The Shameful Six are a disgrace. It was obvious that as the Shameful Six came into the room,this was a fait d’accompli. I was born in Bridgeport. I have lived all my life in Bridgeport. I own property in Bridgeport. As I listened to John Weldon i became nauseous. Shame on John Weldon. The other Shameful six don’t even have brains. They are just fat and stupid. Some Bridgeporter’s came out to this intentional useless meeting. we were compelled to cry out “:SHAME..SHAME..SHAME on Weldon and the rest of the puppets. JOHN WELDON..RESIGN.. YOU ARE A DISGRACE.

    1. I am asking those that truly care about Bridgeport and its residents to please stop just complaining.

      I have already raised $2,100 in donations just today alone to put towards a lawsuit against these six school board members.

      Let’s work collectively to take unethical, dishonest, unprincipled and corrupt elected officials accountable. That includes challenging them in court.

      Please click on this link and make a donation of any amount that works for you and your family. Pooling our resources is cost effective, smart and easy.

  2. Really, the cancellation of district, citizen input meetings, in the context of the “kangaroo court”-like, anti-procedural, anti-democratic, by-laws “revision” action by Chairman Weldon and his anti-democratic block on the BOE presents as serious a challenge to Bridgeport education “home rule” as the July 4, 2011 BOE coup’ by Governor Dan Malloy and the Finch Administration. .

    Is the next step an announcement by the Lamont Administration that Bridgeport BOE funding will be contingent on state control and administration of the Bridgeport BOE?! When the Paul Vallas run for mayor in Chicago crashes, will Lamont ask him to return to Bridgeport to return and continue where he left off, i.e., come back and “finish us off” a la privatization of our public schools under the auspices of some Greenwich “education corporation?!”

    Bad, bad vibes in a mayoral/City Council election year…

    1. For those that may have been disapproving of my refusal to accept the State Citation from Dennis, I hope you can see for yourself why I know him to be insincere and inauthentic.

      He was publicly apologizing to me on Monday and stated he prayed for me every night and stated that I would always have a friend in Hartford which was just part of his show.

      He announced he was resigning, but did not submit his resignation to the City Clerk. That’s because they needed his vote.

      Mayor Ganim and Mario Testa were involved in this. Mario made sure Dennis reported for duty and personally called him to make sure he attended.

      Dennis Bradley is a despicable human being. He slithered in and did not sit at the table. He sat in a chair in the corner behind me playing video games on his cellphone which was set off loudly behind me as I was speaking.

      I promise you that Jessica Martinez, Hernan Illingworth, Dennis Bradley. Chris Taylor, and Sybil Allen had no idea what they voted for. I mean ZERO.

  3. We are not even seeing the video of the initial comments of John Weldon. John Weldon’s initial comments acknowledged that these new by-laws were specifically made about one person and a minority on the BOE.

    1. The pretext for these massive bylaw changes was because “dysfunctional board members” were prohibiting important business from getting done and we were having 5-6 hour meetings.

      John Weldon, Jessica Martinez, Dennis Bradley, Hernan Illingworth and Sybil Allen not only represent a majority, they represent a two-thirds super majority.

      How can three minority members on the school board be capable of blocking six members from governanance.

      John Weldon announced “this isn’t political.” Is anyone buying that?

      The reality is that both Ben Walker and Joseph Sokolovic are collateral damage of this unlawful coup. This was all about doing everything in their power to hinder me from speaking and expressing a well-researched and well -articulated point-of-view. When you are not intelligent, well -informed or articulate you cannot debate someone who is, therefore you have to orchestrate an unprecedented coup and illegally change 57 pages of bylaws.

      I must be really effective to warrant such effort. It actually is a compliment.

      I want to publicly state here that I will not be silenced. I will not be disenfranchised as an elected school board member. I will not allow anyone to prevent me from carrying out my statutory duties as school board member elected by over 10,000 registered voters

    1. Here is some important video.
      John Weldon scheduled the meeting for 7:00 PM.

      At 7:08 PM., none of the six had arrived. Not one. I knew they were corralled somewhere nearby.

      I asked JoAnn Kennedy to go downstairs to see if she could find them. Five of them were clustered in the main lobby of City Hall with Paula Romero, the 22 year old dating State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago who plans on running for the school board.

      My guess from this little pre-coup get together is she will be nominated to replace Dennis Bradley.

      This video shows school board member,Sybil Allen, physically assaulting JoAnn Kennedy for video taping them which is legal in CT. You have no right to privacy in a public setting. You can hear Hernan Illingworth laughing in the background.

      JoAnn did call the BPD and filed a police report.

      This is now the second time a school board has assaulted someone prior/after a public school board meeting in the last three weeks.

  4. Vote was illegally taken. I had my hand up waiting to be recognized with the intention to actually read aloud the bylaw revisions to ensure everybody understood what they were voting on. Ms. Pereira had the floor and the chairman saw my hand. Mr. Taylor blurted out I call the question. ( not permitted when somebody has the floor and must first be recognized). Somebody seconded it and debate was improperly closed. What a knowledgeable and impartial chair should have done is call the member out of order, protecting the speaker and then recognize the next person wishing to speak before recognizing someone not properly asking to be recognized.

    This was not democracy this was a coup. A theft by deception that took advantage of people’s ignorance of basic parliamentary procedure.

    Already the ramifications are being felt and resources are being wasted. More on that later.

  5. Question, does this school board ever get anything done at their meetings?From what’s posted on here over the last couple years, it seems like they scheduled a meeting,some show up,some don’t,they all take a seat, then full out argue with each other over every topic, accuse each other of all kinds of shit, Maria chasing around members as they leave, then getting hit by a door, Dennis Bradley using meeting time to hand out ridiculous State citations for some reason,then Maria asking someone to film her putting the citation in a garbage barrel. Members plotting how to screw over each other etc, etc. Does any school business, decisions actually ever get done??. Something has to be done with the situation, because obviously this isn’t working.

  6. Mr. Weintrub,

    We were in the middle of debating the largest single contract for services we have. The $60,000 000 bus transportation contract. We on look y has six board members because Dennis Bradley arrived late, stayed ten minutes and than left.

    This left only six board members. Sybil Allen got up to leave near the close of debate. You should know this is rare for her. I have seldom seen her leave a meeting early. This now left five BOE members. Chris Taylor was upset about language in the contract that prohibited some criminals from serving as school bus drivers. He realized if he got up and walked out we would lose a quorum, therefore he announced he was leaving specifically so we would not have a quorum.

    I caught Sybil in the hallway and asked her to rejoin us for just a few minutes so that we could vote on the bus contract. She did and came back to sit down. Chris Taylor reentered the room and started making a barrage of statement/questions at Sybil. ” I thought you were leaving, why are you still here?, you should leave, ” etc.She suddenly got up and bolted. She appeared frazzled.

    I was not going after Chris Taylor, I was trying to speak with Sybil when Chris Taylor tried to physically block me from reaching her.

    The BOE members with the worst attendance are Dennis Bradley, Chris Taylor and Jessica Martinez. Joe Sokolovic has the best attendance, I am second and Ben is in the middle of the pack mainly because of vacation time.

    The vast majority of topics are debated professionally. There are dust ups mainly created by Chris Taylor, and in some cases, Jessica Martinez. She has attacked JoAnn Kennedy during public comment which is prohibited. She also made detagatory comments about the union president for teachers which has caused problems.

    Dennis’ stunt was no where on our agenda, it interrupted our scheduled business, however I did not object and simply let him perform up to a certain point. John Weldon should have ruled him out-of-order.

    My video regarding the State Citation was filmed AFTER the meeting had ended due to a lack of a quorum There were just a few people cleaning up and getting their belongings together to leave.

    Ben, Joe and I do not, nor have we ever plotted to “screw someone over.” We are the prepared board members at EVERY meeting. The meetings usually run quite smoothly when Chris Taylor is absent. The vast majority of business gets done. If it doesn’t, it’s because of childish antics by those who purposefully leave meetings so a quorum cannot be maintained.

    Elections for four seats will take place this year. Voters will have their opportunity to change the make-up of the Board.

  7. Hi Harvey, you are an informed and reasonable blogger, and that is the only reason I’m responding to you, and hopefully other contributors. I was not present at the meeting in question, I was in attendance at the meeting held to discuss and vote on public community input. While I’m fully aware of Maria’s passion that sometimes presents itself as overwhelming to some, please trust me, you know me; if not for her presence and knowledge on that Board we would have nothing but a bunch of seat warmers. Ben Walker and Joe Sokolovic excluded from my observation. They are professional, well-manner members. I recall feeling good about the appointment of Sybil Allen because I served with her on the CC, and I know her dedication to the education and well being of the children of Bridgeport. It breaks my heart to know that she is one of the seat warmers. It’s my belief that the meeting I attended went without much incident, other than the ridiculous outcome (the vote) because present in the audience were a number of observant professionals watching and observing. I further believe that if this was not the case, one member, in particular, Chris Taylor, would have displayed verbally and perhaps physical behavior. He knew who was watching! From what I’m reading, this is a disgrace, and legal intervention is necessary. Back in the Finch Administration, I fought alongside so many others to prevent a State takeover. If legal action does not bring relief, I agree that for the good of the City, State intervention is necessary.

    1. Lisa,

      A state takeover is not the answer. There isn’t a single instance in this country where a state takeover of a public school system has improved student outcomes. Not one.

      What it does do is reward pro-privitization millionaires and billionaires who would never send their own children or grandchildren to the very schools they want to control. They increase their personal wealth on the backs of majority Black and Brown children who live in neighborhoods and communities where they have never spent a night in.

      Parents, voters and taxpayers have a right to elect their school board members.

      I saw Kevin McSpirit at a diner Monday night. He was kind enough to approach me to say hello.

      I introduced him to my friend and shared that Kevin and I had met for coffee on a Friday. As we left the coffee shop Kevin told me “Maria, you’re a good public servant.” That very Monfay he joined the boycott demanding my resignation.

      My friend asked him he had ever had children in the BPS. He graciously replied “no.”. Boy did she let him have it. She touted her own experience with BPS and that her three daughters had attended and were all successful in her own right.

      Kevin McSpirit responded.” I did it because I was hoping for a state takeover.”

      We knew was that was the plan that Mayor Ganim, the majority of the Board and Interim-superintendent Fran Rabinowitz had hatched all along.

      Don’t ever be tricked into joining that chorus, Lisa. 🙂

    2. Lisa, thank you for your overview, I must say that I’m sadden about Sybil Allen because of her dedication to the education and well being of the children of Bridgeport. Sybil knows how the game is played and that Mario and Mayor Ganim are pulling the puppet strings of the BBOE. During Mayor Finch’s term as mayor and the same now they have a 6 to 3 majority, so they control everything just by doing business the right way by the democratic way and by using Robert’s Rules of Order, they should win base on merit.

  8. I’m not surprised
    After seeing their thuggish behavior with their railroading and brinksmanship in tearing down the architectural masterpiece original Bassick building, two gymnasiums and a Space observatory at Bassick
    The BOA has become the new Mafia!

    1. Bob,

      Please don’t paint the Board of Education with a broad brush. Although Chris Taylor loves to tell anyone who will listen that he is a former mobster, several of us are not.

      As you were well aware, both Ben and I were in favor of bringing Bassick High School into the 21st Century. You can do that cost effectively without demolishing such a historic and beautiful building. The exterior of the building has absolutely nothing to do with the learning that takes place on the interior.

      I have many issues with the Bridgeport Police Deoartment, but I can’t say all Bridgeport police officers are bad.

  9. Maria
    My bad
    It appeared I was lumping everyone in. I do not think of myself that way and I am not
    So I’m referring to that majority and how they acted. I honestly thought it wouldn’t be taken that way. I hereby retract that impression
    Thank you

  10. Thank you for your observations Lisa,believe me,I’m not casting aspersions on any of the members individually.My problem is with the group as a whole.They don’t seem to be able to come together and agree on much.The arguments,name calling,grandstanding etc is a real problem,and I can’t see a resolution to it.,and it’s not just this group,it’s been happening it seems,for years.

  11. Ron, I’m surprised that you and Lisa are surprised at Sybil Allen. Sybil had always been a good Democrat and a loyal member of the Bridgeport DTC. She hasn’t changed in the least.

    1. Wow! We are already up to $1,700 on our GoFundMe page.

      Please donate any amount you can. IA very special thank you to the anonymous donors who donated $1,000 and $500 respectively. 🙂


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