Local NAACP Urges Transparency, Community Engagement In School Chief Search

The following letter to members of the Board of Education was sent by Greater Bridgeport NAACP officials Stanley Lord and Gladys Walker-Jones.

On behalf of the collaborative effort of the Greater Bridgeport National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (GBNAACP) Executive Body, GBNAACP-Education Committee, and interest-aligned stakeholders, it is disturbing to learn of a special meeting scheduled for today, September 8, 2022, at 6/6:30 pm in the library at Central High School. This special meeting, as of this typing, has not been properly noticed on the BPS BOE website.

Pray-tell, is it the intention of the BOE Chair to block the public from participating in selecting our next interim/permanent school superintendent? Is it the intention of the BOE Chair to continue to wag the elected BOE members by the tail by dictating decisions that are to be made by the fully elected BOE?

Surely, we understand the importance in relieving Bridgeport Public Schools of what appears to be a breached contract by Superintendent Michael J. Testani and most importantly, right-fitting our school district with a highly qualified, scholar-centered, CT credentialed professional School Superintendent who consistently honors the CT Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators; one who has successfully taught and lead at/above the position of School Principal and Assistant Superintendent in an urban public school environment comparable to Bridgeport Public Schools; one who has no opposition to residing in the City of Bridgeport (CT); and as clearly articulated during the public comment session during the regular BOE meeting on Monday, August 29, 2022, from community activists and parents in addition to these formal attributes; we expect our next school superintendent to mirror the majority of black and brown scholars who need to see a reflection of themselves in a culturally responsive frontline educator and leadership team here in Bridgeport Public Schools.

A sense of urgency is honorable; however, the process should not be rushed nor deceptively categorized as a “special meeting” to silence the voices of Bridgeport Public School stakeholders.

We insist this process be honest and transparent, especially concerning the essential planning and processes which do not intentionally or inadvertently compromise the selection pool by prematurely identifying candidates before the final candidate selection.

Elected BOE members, you are essential and play a critical role in decision making which requires each of you to do your homework, ask questions, and push back with recommendations. The tail should not be able to wag the dog. You can and are expected to resist all efforts to rush through and/or hijack the only hire within your level of influence and control–the School Superintendent. The next steps, including timeline, contact person, and location of meetings, are within your level of control. While reflecting on discussion and inquiries from you all to Patrice McCarthy (CABE) and amongst yourselves during the last regular BOE meeting on August 29, 2022, it is clear that your role, responsibilities, and authority have not yet crystallized. At no time during the meeting was a motion made and moved to onboard an internal candidate or retiree. And no motion was made, moved, and carried out to identify executive search firms. The Chair has a heightened level of authority that needs to be revisited. However, he is not to function as a lone ranger. Should the latter be the whole of BOE acting as the Personnel “Superintendent Search” Committee, then notice for RFPs should follow a carried motion. The 2016 RFP for School Superintendents, in addition to the handbook, Finding An Exceptional Leader For Your School District, distributed to you all on August 29, 2022, by Patrice McCarthy c/o Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), are valuable resources.

To conclude, we will play an active role in determining who will be our next interim/contracted Bridgeport Public School Superintendent. A placeholder will not suffice as tremendous needs, including unfinished learning and major Health & Safety issues that must be fully addressed with the re-established Health & Safety Committee. Additionally, we strongly urge conducting a forensic audit of your next properly noticed BOE meeting and agenda. A motion must be made and carried out to have an independent forensic audit completed and published this school year.

Please apprise the Executive branch of the Greater Bridgeport NAACP of the full BOE’s next steps, including how and when you all have agreed to ensure transparency and direct input from BPS stakeholders.



  1. Part 1

    Well yesterdays non meeting came and went and what a non meeting it was. Close to 30 members of the public showed up to hear the latest information on the superintendent search process. I arrived at Central about 30 minutes early to find a POLICE presence once again. I inquired of the officer if he was there for our protection, he replied he was there to ensure only board members were to be allowed upstairs to the meeting.

    When asked who asked for police presence and said to bar the public the officer answered John Weldon.


    Mr. Weldon arrived and ignored constituents and rushed upstairs ignoring constituents and the pair of glasses he knocked down in his haste to flee past the public he serves.


  2. Part 2.

    All of this occurred a week after the procedure blocked came out to the last board meeting with a respectable public turnout and request for an open and transparent process that had representation from CABE suggest an open transparent process that involved the entire board. Well this meeting was anything but. We were to meet to discuss 2 search firms for supt. that the chair had solicited bids from ON HIS OWN. I and other board members found this unacceptable as we did not even decide yet to even engage a search firm nor meet to discuss any parameters for the search. For backgrounds on search firms process the last two supt (2016, 2019) utilized RFPs and firms approved by the entire board.

  3. Part 4

    The meeting should have been open to the public and a preliminary one to plan out our actions going forward as a nine member board, not as an autocracy. We should have discussed and voted on in a public meeting (below)the following agenda that will be discussed at a special meeting called by four board members and held in the next 10 days (by our bylaw and statute).

    Mr. Weldon

    Please schedule a special meetings as per state statute and our board bylaws to have a special meeting with the following agenda

    Discussion and possible action on making superintendent search committee meetings public.

    Discussion and possible action on issuing a RFP for a superintendent search firm.

    Discussion and possible action on superintendent search process and timeline

    Discussion and possible action on parameters and assigned rolls of superintendent search committee.


    Joseph Sokolovic
    Christine Babtiste Perez
    Albert Benejan
    Bobbi Brown

  4. Final Part
    (Thanks for the vehicle Lennie sorry I took so much space)

    It was quite refreshing to be amongst the people and hear their suggestions and stories.
    We four remained downstairs for about an hour and the police requested that the meeting upstairs be ended to be able to clear out the building as night school was in session. The meeting ended and Mr. Weldon and Mr. Maccarone fled out the back door rather than face their constituents. I must in all fairness give a compliment to Ms. Castillo for coming out and facing the people we serve. She had more courage than the two board members WHO FLED OUT THE BACK DOOR!

    If you cannot face the constituents you serve at any capacity as an elected official it is time for you to resign.

    Bridgeport has had enough. ENOUGH of backroom deals selecting a predetermined superintendent. ENOUGH of a corrupt immoral process that shuts out the public. ENOUGH of not being heard.

    There will be a meeting at the Aquaculture school on Monday at 6:30 PM. (Show up by six and sign up to speak) I urge the public to show up early greet us in the parking lot, fill every seat, sign up for public comment and tell the board ENOUGH!

    1. What happened to the so-call meeting you were supposed to have Monday night? You are a member of the Board and I am telling you ENOUGH. Stop talking and do the work that we sent you there to do. Learn how to work with people Joseph. You hear me?

      1. Joe said the meeting had to be canceled because it did not adhere to the very basic FOIA rights. You can’t blame him for that, He didn’t cancel it, bureaucracy did. 🙂

  5. It’s so hard to stay away from the holder of my pencil. We are connected. 🙂

    In the name of “transparency” help me understand Joe.

    Part 1

    You are calling out elected board members, specifically Weldon, FOR calling and attending a special meeting to discuss the recent events of Testani departure, to find a new superintendent that you and three other board members, who were brave enough not to attend, go upstairs. You are now calling FOR him (by Per State Statute and Board Bylaws) to call a special meeting to discuss finding a new superintendent. WWWWWHHHAAT 🤣


    1. I’ll simplify it for my little pencil. Meeting Weldon called pubic was prohibited from entering the meeting under threat of arrest.

      The meeting I call for is open to the public to attend and gain information.

      1. Ok holder, but let’s not forget you and those brave elected board members who failed to attend a meeting and remained downstairs, regardless if it was open to the public, were elected to be their voice for them when their voices were heard and voted for you. Weldon didn’t prohibit you from attending the meeting, did he? 🙂


      2. We sent you there to get your ass in the room and do your job. We did not ask you to stand outside. You got work to do inside. It is about time that you get to work and stop playing in the hallway like a kid cutting class. Like Robert said, the people put you there to attend meetings, not to skip meetings. I have kids in the school system and I wish I showed up to the meeting and you were standing out in the hallway like a big child. I would have told you to get inside and GET TO WORK.

        1. To be fair, I called out all the brave BOE members. My pencil holder was not the only one in the cutting class. Let’s not forget about the other in your critique.

          Christine Babtiste Perez
          Albert Benejan
          Bobbi Brown

  6. Part 2

    So the public and CABE suggest an open transparent process that involved the entire board at a publicly held meeting, and this especially meeting of the board was anything but. Was that due to the fact that 4 brave elected officials failed to go stairs to attend the process?

    I am curious about how you had come across the backdoor deal of the chair to solicit bids of firms to conduct a search at a meeting you bravely didn’t attend. 🤣


    1. What unilateral decision?

      I mean it’s not calling a special meeting among the board members. You are asking him to call one yourself, Right? Be it a special meeting open to the public, but is it mandatory for an especially meeting to be open to the public? Besides, you are elected to represent them and be their voice, no? That’s how representative democracy works.

      Was it the two firms solicited? you stated,

      “We were to meet to discuss 2 search firms for Supt. that the chair had solicited bids from ON HIS OWN. I and other board members found this unacceptable as we did not even decide yet to even engage a search firm nor meet to discuss any parameters for the search. For backgrounds on search firms process the last two supt (2016, 2019) utilized RFPs and firms approved by the entire board.”

      A, if this meeting was to discuss 2 search firms for new Supt that Weldon solicited how much of a discussion was it when 4 of the 9 board members stayed downstairs?

      B, did Weldon, who was elected as chair of the board by BBOE members go beyond his authority to bring firms up for discussion among the board members, well the ones that show up?

      C, but let’s face it, everyone who attends these meetings be it upstairs or downstairs is nothing but Port politics. The fact that Tony Barr is like, the only person voicing their anger and frustration at Hartford
      its distribution of funding that short-changed Bridgeport and its students in the tune of 50 million is all I need to know it’s just politics as usual. JS


  7. Part 3

    So, pencil holder, four brave board elected board members refused to go upstairs and attend a special meeting and stayed downstairs with the public in solidarity with them to hear their voices, who were angry and frustrated and felt left out and voice was not heard. However, do you think their anger and frustration can be placed on the fact the people they elected to be their voice didn’t go up the stair to attend the meeting by extension silencing them? 🤣


    P.S let’s not forget about the “public” entering buildings and meetings where the process of Democracy is being held.


    1. Not sure they could’ve been acting when they were taking selfies with me and live-streaming our live talks and thanking us for standing with us. But hey maybe you not being there have a better read.

      1. Maybe, maybe not, but I am not sure if you were acting with them. I mean you seem to know a lot about the backdoor deals of a meeting you didn’t attend and allowed to go throw without representation while taking selfies and live-streaming the anger of their voice for not being heard/represented.

        Not sure if they were aware of the fact you failed them or could have played them by not attending the meeting. It was hard to read some times JS 🙂


  8. Part 4

    Maybe, maybe not the meeting should’ve been open to the public. But it wasn’t and all nine elected members to the BOE who represent the public were, where 45% of that governing body didn’t, including you, apparently to take selfies with the constituents who you were supposed to be represented at such meeting. 🙂


  9. A final thought on the matter, people.

    You can’t champion on/for democracy while circumventing/undermining it by not participating in the process because it/votes ain’t going your way, then call the process authoritarianism.

    This is similar to calling out the history of Columbus and condemning Columbus Day/Italian heritage celebrating because of its history, Yet then going on a float and celebrating the results of that very history on Puerto Rican Day celebrating of their heritage.

    In the name of “transparency,” I can’t end this discussion without touching on race/racism since this is a political discussion and it’s ingrained in our current political discourse. 🙂

    With regards to the topic at hand, let’s have some honesty in our “transparency”.


    The “Local NAACP Urges Transparency, Community Engagement In School Chief Search” means, we want a black person, preferably a male more than just a person of color.

    I do recall Joe ousting a white dude, at a cost to the city and replacing him with a person of color for Chief of Police. Who was forced out due to the fact he was as bright as Trump. Now that’s what you call “white” privileged people. 🤣

    Who, then was replaced by a woman of color, who the NAACP claimed they want her out because she not being fair to white officers.


    I mean, Trump is a man who doesn’t ever read. The left went on for 4 years about him never reading any intelligence or governmental briefs/reports given to him, claiming all he did was play golf and held important rallies. Yet now they want to tell the people he stole top secret documents he never read when he was in office and stashed them at one of his golf courses, that they can’t find. Okay

    Maybe they are at one of his other golf courses, perhaps he stashed them at the golf course he laid his first wife to rest, for a tax break. SMFH


  10. At the moment the column above represents the input of 10 messages from Bridgeport BOE member Joe Sokolovic and OIB frequent poster, Robert Teixeira. Their posts deal with the subject of the departure of current Bridgeport BOE Superintendent and Fairfield resident, Michael Testani, and the responsibility of the Bridgeport BOE, 9 elected Bridgeport residents, to assure interim, acting, and/or longer term local school leadership as the pandemic has less current effect, but whose effects on student achievement for at least two years is reportedly profound and negative. Thought it might be time to consider the question of how we deal with leadership change in the City, from another voice.
    Where is a clarifying statement from John Weldon about the matters above? Was his recent setting of a Special Meeting without public notice or other actions reported in the dialogue above examples of his AUTOCRATIC practices or not? And does the NAACP request specifically regarding appointment of members to serve on an active Health and Safety Committee, as pandemic dangers grow less, appropriate?
    Remember that Mike Testani had his resume out for consideration in other districts for a position as Superintendent at the same time he looked to Bridgeport taxpayers to review his contract, prematurely before it was called for, and received a majority decision to increase his compensation, while putting up with his resistance to meet the requirement of residence in Bridgeport. Time to ask why and gain some community learning from this lesson? To guide voters of BOE candidates in the next election? To provide public meetings with OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT, and HONEST opportunities for public participation in local governance? Time will tell.

      1. John did make a great point about it might be time to consider the question of how we deal with the leadership change in the City, from another voice, and based on your critique of Joe playing in the hallway like a kid cutting class and attending the meeting you voted him to do along with the others It seems like time to replace almost half the glass of BBOE members next election. 😂


        Joseph Sokolovic
        Christine Babtiste Perez
        Albert Benejan
        Bobbi Brown

  11. John, to be fair it wasn’t 10 messages by Pencil and Pencil holder. It was 1 message, 10 parts 🙂

    That was on the subject of the departure of current Brigeposrt BOE Superintendent and Fairfield resident, Michael Testani, and the responsibility of the Bridgeport BOE members who were elected by Bridgeport residents, including members of the NAACP, to be their voice at such matters, with few replies 🙂

    But in all serious-ishness 🙂 Apparently, there was a regular BOE meeting with public input a week prior to this special meeting where their voice was heard and was informed that the process of finding a new Supt. is on the agenda because the current Supt. is leaving. Though I am sure everybody already knew that, A special Board meeting was set, be it, it wasn’t posted on its website, or open to the public. Yet 4 of the 9 members of the board, 3 black, and brown members, and a pencil, 🙂 who were informed of the meeting and who were elected to represent the public including NAACP members in such meetings showed up but didn’t tend to the meeting, based on some “solidarity”? If that’s the critique why even bother to have elections in the first place to elect people to represent you?

    Honestly, it’s just political gamesmanship, Port politics, at its best, and then people wonder why people don’t vote and voter turnout is so low. The thousands who did vote for the brave BOE members and elected them were underserved when they stayed downstairs. That is just a fact. Or played hard to tell sometimes.

    In any event, if you look at the pencil’s video it seems there were half a dozen people and 4 brave board members, and the rest, all entrenched in Port politics. You have a brown person of color berating a black person of color, who was a cop just doing his job.

    But let’s face it, be it 10 messages, 1 message in 10 parts, or a press release letter, in politics it is always Self-Serving agendas with people wanting to hear their own voice.

    Butt, that’s the problem with the enemy of my enemy is my friend, when your enemy is no longer your enemy or friend. JS

    Like a buffet. 🤣 JS


  12. Well, another BOE meeting canceled when the public was heated. (A strange coincidence that these meetings are not properly posted during contentious times?)

    Many parents wanted to comment on the full day half day debacle and last minute switches that left some without child care. Some wanted to comment on the lack of transparency in the supt search. But unfortunately once again a meeting had to be cancelled because it did not adhere to the very basic FOIA rights. Recall that in pointing out the incompetence last time I suggested the chair check that all meetings were properly posted I lost all my committees for being a big meanie?

  13. Wait, What? Who, Why, was the meeting canceled? What do you mean it was cancelled because it did not adhere to the very basic FOIA rights? this meeting was a regular meeting that’s been on the BBOE website for over a year.

    From the sounds of it, based on your suggestion, the chair checked that all meetings were properly posted, where you lost all your committee assignments, It sounds like it came from your side based on some trivial procedure. Or some elaborate scheme by the Chair, Weldon.

    That doesn’t make any sense. 🙂


    On a half-glass full note, crazy-ass Tom Cruise’s Scientology makes our religion look great. 🤣


  14. Joe 90 words? What do you think OIB is on Twitter? 🙂

    Don’t get mad at me because you are buckling under the pressure of questing. ? So much for solidarity for the voices to be heard🤣

      1. Taht because I’m just calling out the bullshit as I see/perceive it. Questioning, Correct me if I am off or wrong.

        You know me I am half full kind of person. Maybe it’s 9 or 10 people who don’t want to get in involved and comment back because it’s bullshit and can’t defend it.

        Did you see what I did there, that equality people 🤣


        1. Butt to be fair, that video was mildly racist with white privileged. SMH

          See white people, it shit like this black people claim there’s white privilege in America.

          The black kid is like, what you F-ing Jew writers couldn’t write in one more kid to at less agree with me. 😂

          To be fairer, The Latino kid was like at least you were cast. 🤣


  15. At any rate, final thoughts on the matter. To touch on an interesting point John made. In the NAACP’S letter to the BBOE, they took issue with the special meeting not being properly noticed on the BPS BOE website.

    Just wondering, out to the half dozen or so people, along with the 4 board members downstairs who they stood in solidarity with, how many of them were from the NAACP or its membership? How many NAACP members voted for any of the 4 board members to attend such a meeting?

    Jonh, when the time comes to ask why, and the community to gain and learn from such lessons as what took place at the Central High special meeting, to guide voters of BOE candidates in the next election. Do you feel those elected board members who didn’t attend what seemed to be close door special meetings for Board members only, taht they failed the people who elected them? Do you feel they were ACCOUNTABLE to the people who voted for them?

    A more relevant issue outside of Port machination politics. You are correct in saying during the pandemic shutdown, In due part to political parties’ ideology and teacher unions,in the ever-changing science, student achievement for at least two years was profoundly negative, and that negative achievement gap was even greater in the Port.

    Partly due to the fact the elected BBOE members failed students and parents beyond comprehension, for a generation by not keeping up with the Jones,(tech) compared to its counterparts. While most suburban schools utilized laptops and internet connectivity with their teachers. The Port school system was handing out educational packets and lunch for distance learning, with an emphasis on lunch claiming that for most Port students, school lunch is their only meal/means for food or some shit like that.

    Really, if Port students/parents are so deprived/impoverished to the point that school lunch is their only means for food. The Port has some more pressing issues for its students/residents than education.

    So while we tend to gravitate to the drama of hearing our own voice on open or closed-door meetings, where it’s posted, when it was posted, by whom it was posted, or if it adheres to FOIA. With a self-serving political agenda with people wanting to hear their own voice. We tend to overlook more pragmatic issues regarding student achievement.

    That being said, looking at the glass half full about the pandemic, and the city achievement gap. On the Port/City side. The Port has been keeping up its new and decent renovated schools and properties. It’s the place to start. I mean decent teachers want to work in decent schools. Which wasn’t always the case. I remember when I first tried to go back to school. HCC was on Barnum Ave. In a renovated industrial factory. It was beyond a joke to consider that a higher education environment, even for community college standards

    But a decent learning environment is only part, while the current HCC campus beats NCC campus hands-downs, and they, NCC did shut me down and kick me out of class/campus (restraining order) because of the leftist political ideology when I did a presentation on not burning the flag of the country live in, and they exist of God. NCC did have stronger educational classes, fewer packet teachers/classes, and many more engaged teachers in the classrooms than HCC. To be fair it just could have been more my classes. In any event IOB best ESL class ever. 🙂


    On the BBOE side, I do recall Testoni taking heat because he didn’t stop the student from participating in sports during the pandemic, mostly because of news talking points, along party lines, and ideology. But because of the pandemic of the Port’s BBOE had to address the tech gap and invest in tech/laptops for its student body.

    However, based on prior experience of Port politics within the BBOE I am sure the software is lacking from its suburban counterparts. But you will generally never hear or get much pushback from the community. I mean you didn’t hear much about providing laptops prior to the pandemic, never mind what’s in it.

    Say what you will, hate her, love her, loathe her, or praise her. Maria’s most honest moment about being a BOE member (IMO) outside of political agendas, It’s about controlling a two hundred million dollar, plus budget. JS



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