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Once Again, School Board Battle Erupts, This Time Over Cancelled Meeting

May 30th, 2018 · 25 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, News and Events, State Politics

Pereira Walker Soko

The school board’s minority bloc Joe Sokolovic, Ben Walker and Maria Pereira in solidarity Tuesday night.

A Board of Education meeting that was cancelled has three board members w–o showed up Tuesday anyway–crying foul on a night the district was to consider an “update on budget gap” as well as naming of a new high school to replace Harding with community support at the called-off meeting speaking to maintain the name. Agenda for cancelled meeting here. The disagreement has campaign implications with board member Maria  Pereira supporting Aaron Turner for State Senate over Democratic-endorsed Dennis Bradley, also a school board member.

Pereira and Bradley have butted heads often since they both won election running on Joe Ganim’s mayoral line in 2015. Board members Pereira, Ben Walker and Joe Sokolovic showed up asserting the meeting should have gone forward and if there was no quorum, so be it. Three board members, Chair John Weldon, Bradley and Chris Taylor say this is much ado about nothing and comes down simply to a rescheduling of the meeting to Thursday night because a quorum of five members was unavailable Tuesday.

Pereira is trying to frame this as a meeting boycott, a reminder of what occurred when Bradley served as chair in response to his call for Pereira to resign as a disruptive force who derailed civility. Although no official meeting took place, Pereira, Walker and Sokolovic listened to public comment Tuesday night much of it centered on support for keeping the Harding name.

Pereira’s perspective on what happened:

John Weldon notified the Superintendent at 4:30 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day that he was canceling our Regular BBOE meeting. Our board packets had already been delivered.

Public agencies must file their Regular Meeting Calendar by January 30th of each year. The BBOE approves its calendar in November each year because once the calendar is filed it triggers a 30 day waiting period before the first regular meeting can be held. We always utilize December as the 30 day notice period.

John Weldon cannot cancel regular meetings approved by the full board without a vote of the full board. If a quorum doesn’t show, those present simply adjourn the meeting by placing a notice on the door identifying the new date, time and location of the rescheduled meeting. We adjourned the meeting to Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at Geraldine Johnson School.

The following members boycotted today’s meeting although the vote for the naming Warren Harding High School and approving a time sensitive curriculum strategy for the new Bassick High School were on the agenda.

Most people came to speak in support of keeping Warren Harding High School as the name of our new high school.

John Weldon orchestrated this “boycott.” Sybll Allen, Chris Taylor and Dennis Bradley were all in Bridgeport today. Jessica Martinez asserted there was a death in her family last week but wrote nasty facebook posts on Joseph Sokol’s Facebook page. Hernan Illingworth claimed he left town for Memorial Day weekend and was returning Tuesday evening.

Weldon’s statement on what happened:

On Friday, May 18, 2018, a Notice of a Regular Meeting of the Bridgeport Board of Education was filed with the City Clerk. A Notice of a Special Meeting was also filed. The Regular Meeting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on May 29, 2018 at the Bridgeport Aquaculture & Technology Center at 60 St. Stephens Rd. in Bridgeport. The Special Meeting was scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

On Friday, May 25, 2018, Board Officers became aware that a quorum would likely not be present at the May 29th meeting. In response, a Cancellation Notice was issued and filed with the City Clerk that afternoon. It was sent via e-mail to Board Members with the following message:

The Special Meeting and the Regular Meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, May 29, 2018 have been cancelled. In lieu of the Regular Meeting, a Special Meeting of the Board will be scheduled later in the week.

Please Email Mr. Weldon with your availability for either Wednesday, May 30, 2018 or Thursday, May 31, 2018.

The Special Meeting will contain all of the agenda items that would have been addressed on Tuesday, May 29, 2018′s meeting.

(Editor’s note: A cancellation notice was filed with the City Clerk Friday afternoon.)

The meetings were cancelled to avoid staff or the public being inconvenienced by coming to a meeting that would not have a quorum and, as such, would result in no business being able to be conducted.

Over the course of the weekend, a minority of Board Members convinced the Superintendent’s Office to hold the meeting irrespective of the Cancellation Notice. Regrettably, this was responded to and the meeting was promoted, despite no formal notice re-establishing / rescheduling it being filed. In addition, an individual Board Member took it upon himself to promote the meeting as being re-established / rescheduled via social media–again, with no formal notice being filed. As a result, a meeting took place without a quorum and many staff and members of the public were inconvenienced. All of these events are being reviewed by the Board’s Officers to determine if any disciplinary action should be considered / recommended and to put measures in place to make certain a miscommunication of this nature does not happen again going forward.

Irrespectively, as initially planned, a meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at Geraldine Johnson School, located at 475 Lexington Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604.

We are aware there were some very important items to be addressed at the May 29th meeting and that the public had a significant interest in providing public comment, particularly as it relates to the naming of the high school being constructed at 379 Bond St. Be assured, the public will be afforded the opportunity to provide comment at the May 31st meeting.

Bradley statement:

This is once again Maria Pereira and her faithful followers Ben Walker and now Joe Sokolovic intimidating and manipulating our Superintendent. This is once again those board members choosing politics over innovative ideas that could make our school system great. This should be a non-story. A simple postponement for a few days. I for one will continue to press on and do the hard work that is needed. I’m proud of standing up for our kids during the boycott and not doing business as usual. But I’m also looking for solutions that work. Unfortunately those board members listed continue to do the same old, same old.

Taylor statement:

(School chief) Dr. (Aresta) Johnson used this to fuel a fire. When the meeting was cancelled, Aresta Johnson took it upon herself and put the meeting back on the Board of Education website. They just alienated themselves. Aresta has no right to put the meeting back on. It was out of line.

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25 Comments so far ↓

  • Donald Day

    Once again this is Bradley’s modus operandi, canceling and abandoning BBOE meetings when it satisfies his agenda. That’s very easy to do when you have no children in the Bridgeport school system which depends on you being there in their best interests.

    Bridgeport, this fool wants to represent you in Hartford as your state senator where it’s imperative that one processes the ability to work with others even though you might not agree with them on every issue. Dennis Bradley isn’t fit to be on the BBOE and sure as hell isn’t Fit to be a state senator.

  • Bob Walsh

    Don’t worry Don.
    Dennis Bradley believes that he can lead a boycott of the State Senate when he can get his way.

    • Maria Pereira

      Dennis Bradley asked me to have breakfast with him on Memorial Day. We agreed to meet on Sunday for breakfast and did. I think I have been pretty gracious after he orchestrated a boycott for 4 months to pressure me into resigning.

      During our meeting he repeatedly told me Aaron Turner had “no shot”, he would be the next senator, he had already spoken to “leadership” in Hartford and informed them he wanted to be on the Education Committee. How frightening is that?

      He was incredibly arrogant. He tried to.lecture me on the legality of AN applications. I reminded him he should have those conversations with Lydia Martinez and Wanda Geter.

      He asked me for help in crafting legislation around CHET accounts. When I asked him basic questions such as an estimated cost he said ‘I haven’t done the math”. I said the state is broke and based on your suggestions it would cost over,$22,000,000 per year just in Bridgeport.

      Dennis Bradley has not ushered a single policy, program, or initiative through the Board in three years. John Weldon assigned him as the board member to three ad-hoc committees Dennis wanted. He has scheduled NO meetings in 6 months.

      Dennis Bradley is like a shiny new car. No scratches, fresh glossy paint, new leather, etc. He is handsome, articulate, and dresses well,although he does wear his clothes too tight. Now you lift the hood of the shiny new car and there is no engine or transmission.

      Dennis Bradley is all surface and no substance.

      • Ron Mackey

        Of the three State Senate candidates running for State Senator Ed Gomes seat Aaron Turner would be the one candidate to speak to “leadership” in Hartford ahead of time.

  • Maria Pereira

    Let be clear, John Weldon has no authority to cancel regular meetings. The full board approves them and the full board must cancel them.

    We are not required to file any of our meeting notices with the City Clerk. The public agency simply needs to post the meetings and agendas on their website which was done.

    These meetings have been scheduled since November 14th, yet John Weldon is asserting he became concerned about a quorum at 4:30 pm on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. Let’s all remember what happened with the BBOE on an infamous Fourth of July weekend. Neither Ben, Joe or I were even consulted regarding the cancellation. Sybil Allen stated she had not been consulted either.

    This boycott was orchestrated by John Weldon and his coalition because they were not going to have a majority to make decisions on the over $2,000,000 Budget Gap that was on the agenda.

    Dr. Johnson is required to follow the decisions of the full board not John Weldon or individual board members. The Board voted and approved every regular meeting for 2018. Dr. Johnson followed the direction of the Board as she is required to do under state statute and board policy. She isn’t a puppet like Fran Rabinowitz.

    Please go to Bradley for Senate on Facebook. Instead of fulfilling his obligations as an elected board member by attending last night’s meeting, he was canvassing in my district on Dover and Remington Streets.

    Chris Taylor was in town and available. He has served as a horrible example as a BOE member. The majority of staff dislike him. He called our dedicated and severely underpaid teachers “bad rubbish”. The BEA took a vote of no confidence in him as a BOE member. AFTER a B & A meeting he pointed his finger at Linda Lambeck and told her to go ” f_ck herself”. He has repeatedly berated staff including yelling out at a meeting ” I hate Allen Wallach. I hate Allen Wallach, I hate Allen Wallach”, like a child. He stated during a public committee meeting that he used to snort cocaine in the restroom and intimated that I had engaged in that conduct with him. All the staff heard it and it was captured on Facebbok Live. The staff was appalled.

    John Weldon is incompetent and has NEVER addressed any of this atrocious conduct.

    Joseph Sokolovic, Ben Walker, Hernan Illingworth and I have the best attendance records while the other 5 have abysmal attendance records. John Weldon,,Chris Taylor, Dennis Bradley and Jessica Martinez have attended meetings without a single piece-of-paper, a tablet or laptop, do no read or research the data and documents that is sent to us to.prepare for meetings, and cannot intelligently debate the merits of agenda items because they are completely.unprepared.

    These board members are lock and step with Mario Testa and Mayor Ganim. In fact, Republocrat Chris Taylor donated $3,875 to Ganim’s campaign for governor. Ben Walker,,Joseph Sokolovic and I are loyal to our students, parents and taxayers.

    I have not posted one negative comment about a single board member on OIB for almost 6 months. I have truly tried to handle conflicts internally and privately. That ends now.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Shame on the Board members who didn’t attend the BOE meeting. Like spoiled little kids, they take their marbles and go home; they abandon the children of Bridgeport, as well as abdicating their sworn oath to serve. Sybil Allen, I served with you from 1983 and remained friends with you through thick and thin. You are my greatest disappointment; you are the teacher I witnessed back in the ’80′s supplying your students with basic tools that were not provided to them by the system. And you don’t show? And, Chris Taylor, the Soprano look alike, with the independence you claim to have, you don’t show? The rest aren’t even worth my time to call them by name. Knock it off you jerks, I don’t think Testo gets the blame this time.

  • Ron Mackey

    Don, the only thing that Bradley has done is to make a name for his self has the leader of a school boycott against the business of educating the 21,000 school children in Bridgeport to orchestrated a boycott for 4 months to pressure Maria Pereira into resigning because he couldn’t stand the heat that she was putting on his ass. So like a little kid he goes off mad because he can’t get his way and this guy is a attorney and he can’t manage and run on meeting so this fool stops everything because he can’t get his way.

    You know Carolyn Vermont has the same problem as Dennis Bradley, boycott. Vermont phoned Police Chief Joseph Gaudett during a NAACP meeting to charge Wayne Winston with harassment. She claimed he was being disruptive and talking over her.

    Bradley needs to put his mirror down and do the work of the BBOE.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Every freaking member of the BOE should resign. You serve no purpose, none t all. You are a bunch of assholes that fight over bull shit and what happens for the kids you are responsible for? Nothing not a freaking thing. Shame on all of you!!!

  • Joseph Sokolovic

    I lead, I don’t follow. Read Linda Lambeck’s Article here. See if you can find the contradictions.
    https://m.ctpost.com/local/article/Bridgeport-BOE-fights-without-meeting-12954342.php

  • Maria Pereira

    This only gets better. Please read this revealing CT Post article.
    https://m.ctpost.com/local/article/Bridgeport-BOE-fights-without-meeting-12954342.php

    I spike with Hernan on Friday after we received an email attempting to cancel the meeting. Hernan told me John Weldon called him and asked him to chair the meeting because he was out-of-town for Memorial Day weekend. Hernan stated he told Weldon that he didn’t know there was a meeting and that Hernan had made plans to go to Baltimore for the weekend and he was not returning until Tuesday evening.

    However, Hernan admits that he and John Weldon drove to Sybil Allen’s house on Memorial Day to dissuade her from attending the Regular Meeting on Tuesday.

    John Weldon and Hernan ILLINGSWORTH caught in absolute lies. Every single one of the Board members who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting was in Bridgeport. Every single one.

    I am asking every person available to attend our adjourned Regular Meeting on Thursday at 6:30 at Geraldine Johnson and let these civil servants have it for failing to fulfill their obligations as elected school board members.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    What a clown show…

  • Joseph Sokolovic

    One of the most important parts of this story is the very last paragraph. “Last time the board met without a full compliment 6 A/P’s were cut. Why is this information pertinent? It sounds like a rationale for working against having a quorum and against the children.

    I find it quite odd that we cut 20 instructional coaches, took away subs in the classroom, cut Ass. Director amongst other cuts with no issue, yet I bring up a failed motion (after 2 members walked out) from a prior meeting to cut six AP’s highly paid administrators, who do not work in the classroom, which will garner an eventual savings of 900,000. That’s $900,000 for 6 employees. I hate each and every cut I have voted for because each position has a human being behind it, that impacts the classroom whether all understand or not. Cutting jobs is not the job I signed up for, but unfortunately it is the job I got. A job I take very seriously and work very hard to do my very best.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Wow! Just another day in Myanmar…

  • lisawhite

    is anyone on the BOE aware that downtown will do away with Source4Teachers on July? Source4Teachers will be replaced with Kelly Educational Services.

    my question is this: will Kelly Educational Services save any money – and how much?

    • Marshall Marcus

      @;isawhite
      Changing from Source4Teachers to Kelly is not just about saving money.
      Source has had problems foisted upon them by the BPS.
      Last year the amount they were paid was cut during a contract in order to help fill a budget deficit.
      This year daily substitutes were not permitted in both September and May to save about 200K. Yet Source had to maintain its Bridgeport office and staff and try to retain employees who received no work.
      Source has only 2 other school systems in CT, New Nilford and Portland. Local subs could not be offered work there.
      Kelly is the predominant Sub staffing agency in Ct and has a large pool of employees and will absorb the Source subs.
      This is a win for the subs as they can get work in surrounding suburbs (all of whom pay more $) if Bpt has no openings on a particular day.
      No one could expect Source to be able to staff BPS this month after treating the subs so poorly in May.

  • lisawhite

    that should be Source4Teachers will be gone July 1….

  • John Marshall Lee

    A regularly scheduled evening meeting of the BOE was to be held on Tuesday evening. It sounds like Board Chair Weldon, knowing his own schedule and perhaps that of others last Friday, acted to terminate that meeting. Does he have such authority?

    Postponement of the agenda items for two nights is ultimately what has happened. Has there been harm for the two day difference?
    How many folks, looking at the mixture of signals were inconvenienced by showing up for a non-meeting (which I assume is what happens when there is insufficient quorum)?

    For the months that have passed without public statements about other Board members, there are few who have lamented the presence of courtesy and reasonable discourse, even disagreements as to viewpoints. However, Ms. Perriera terms it a “boycott” without pointing to proof in this case, and suddenly the BOE nine are pictured in a different public light. Perhaps a family issue dominated a decision not to appear, perhaps it was a vocational responsibility in a long holiday weekend, or perhaps it was attending to a health situation at the hour(s) of the meeting, or more? Why has Ms. Perriera moved quickly to her “boycott” charges after 6 months of quiet? It is not so obvious, is it?

    Maria says: “I have not posted one negative comment about a single board member on OIB for almost 6 months. I have truly tried to handle conflicts internally and privately. That ends now.” Why should it end, Maria? How does ending your silent period (when you were recovering a quality state of health, presumably, at least that is what many prayed for) promote better results for the students of the City? Will the Board members get everyone on the same wave length for what needs doing, and communicating to keep the “schools operating with amity and comity? Time will tell.

    • Joseph Sokolovic

      With All due respect Mr. Lee, and sincere thanks for your organizations support, please read the CT post article in its entirety. Also consider visiting my Facebook Page for a timeline of events. I will break it down here because it may be a bit hard to follow for rose in the sideline.

      1. I received an e-mail stating that meeting was cancelled “just in case there is not a quorum”. Regularly scheduled board meetings are on the calendar six months in advance and regardless at that point there were “allegedly” only 4 members unable to attend. Sybil Allen, Dennis Bradley, Joseph Sokolovic, Maria Perierra, and Ben Walker were still available according to various comments to the post and on social media.

      2. I was the first to inquire about a boycott. In all my time I have never seen a preemptive unilateral cancelation of a board meeting outside of the schools being closed.

      3. A very pressing time sensitive issue regarding Bassick HS new program for our children is on the agenda and at the time needed Board approval by June 1 or their would be a 1 year setback in
      It’s implementation (since extende to mid June) any mistakes that need to be resolved may need to come back to the board too late to help.

      4. Rather than trying to get a quorum to show up as is the chairs responsibility the chair and Mr. Illingsworth (who was supposedly out of town) showed up at Sybil Allen’s house and after that visit a promise to attend suddenly did no materialize l.

      5. And as to motive is the last paragraph that quotes Mr. Illingsworth “the last time the board met withou a full contingent they voted to cut 6 Assitant Principals”. Therin lies the rub. A issue with cutting six highly paid administrators which would net in time an additional $900,000.

      7. Please reread the post article with these facts in mind and separate the message from the messenger.

      Thank you sir.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Will re-read the paper with this in mind. Thank you for the facts as stated, your impressions, and efforts to inform from another viewpoint. Priorities, authority, and responsibilities….are ultimately very serious issues. Time will tell.

  • Bridgeport Rising

    The state needs to take over this joke of a school system. Enough is enough, the children of this city deserve so much better.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Come on John, you’re far too intelligent, and I assumed savvy, to come with that opinion or suggestion. They knew exactly what they were doing, the missing members, in fact, I heard that Soprano and one other member of the Board went to Sybil Allen’s residence to persuade her not to attend. You come off as being naive when you talk/post that way.

  • Donald Day

    blo·vi·ate

    talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way. Any questions?

  • Peter Slywka

    All pretending to have the best interest of the kids at heart. Well done.

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