Pattis Predicts More Legal Fireworks Over School Issue

Norm Pattis, the attorney for elected school board members Maria Pereira and Bobby Simmons, provides an update on potential court maneuvers regarding the scheduling of a special election for four school board members. He says expect more fireworks. From

Memo To Bridgeport Lawmakers

Here’s the latest in the ongoing saga of the Bridgeport school board crisis. Unless you have followed the story to date, this will not make a lot of sense. Sorry about that.

Rumor has it that Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch has been telling General Assembly members that I have concluded some sort of deal with the city and state Department of Education calling for the placement of Maria Pereira and Bobby Simmons on the city’s board of education immediately. The rumors are simply untrue. There are no deals in place. Bobby and Maria remain locked out of the offices they were elected to fill.

We did file a motion for reargument in the state Supreme Court today requesting that the court place our clients on the board immediately. We expect our adversaries to request the Court to provide guidance to the trial court on the timing of the special election ordered by the Court. These motions were made necessary because the Superior Court last week refused to entertain proposals to set a special election date absent additional guidance from the Supreme Court.

Here is my prediction about what happens next:

First, the state board will announce within the next day or so that the elected board members currently out of office have been appointed to the reconstituted board.

Next, the city and state board will file a motion for reargument in the Supreme Court claiming that because the ousted board members have been restored to office, the Court’s recent decision is, as to those folks, moot. Because no identifiable person with a claim to an actual seat on the board can be identified, they will claim that the holding in the recent Court decision finding a failure to offer training to local boards before ousting them and replacing them with appointed officials is now moot. Because the holding is moot, the remedial order is overbroad.

Finally, the state and city will ask the Court to hear new argument on the case absent the statutory violation rendered moot by the re-seating of the ousted board members who still have portions of their terms to serve. Removing the statutory claim will require the Court to reach the constitutional claims it did not address in last week’s decision.

Their argument will be that there is no constitutional violation in suspending elections once a board has demonstrated underperformance. Expect lawmakers to pass a bill removing the training requirement to the date after last November’s general election.

The goal: A reconstituted board with the elected members serving alongside appointees.

All this must take place before Friday if the state board and city are to avail themselves of the right to have the Court reconsider its ruling of last week. Expect fireworks before the week’s end.

It is a risky gambit. The Court could well be offended by what appears to be an effort to legitimize the failure to hold an election in November. But the gambit just might work if the Court is persuaded that the city’s school’s require the direction of a new board.

In the meantime, if Bill Finch tells you I have concluded a deal on behalf of my clients, look him right in the eye and tell him the following: Bullshit. I heard it from Norm.



  1. This is starting to border on ” twisted bizzaroworlds.” I will say though, there must be a lot of money attached to BOE control if these guys won’t let up. And they just gave that fact away by exhibiting this behavior. Much obliged for the confirmation on what was already suspected. What other reason would they have to make themselves look like foot-stomping hissy fitting two-year-olds? Jeez.

  2. If they think ‘no identifiable person with a claim to an actual seat on the board can be identified’ I do not think they looked very hard. Didn’t Mary-Jane Foster have people on her election ticket for seats on the BOE and no one else did??? If the election had been held MJF’s people would have won by default. They would have a claim to an actual seat on the board, no???


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