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Pereira Files Lawsuit Challenging Ganim’s School Board Appointment

September 19th, 2016 · 19 Comments · City Politics, Education, News and Events

UPDATE: Hearing continued until Segarra-Negron can be made a party to the action.

UPDATE: Court complaint here.

Board of Education member Maria Pereira on Monday (September 12) filed a lawsuit against Mayor Joe Ganim asserting his recent school board appointment of Republican Annette Segarra-Negron to fill out the term of Dave Hennessey violates Connecticut law and the Bridgeport City Charter. Hennessey, elected as a Democrat in 2013, became a Republican prior to his resignation this year. The city and state of Connecticut are also named defendants.

In the lawsuit filed in Bridgeport Superior Court, Pereira claims that Ganim’s appointee must be “removed immediately.”

The complaint centers on whether a registered Democrat or Republican should fill the vacancy, and whether Ganim could appoint a replacement if the BOE did not. The court complaint could be key in settling the balance of power on the school board mired in bickering over a series of issues.

City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer stated in a legal opinion, citing state law, that Ganim had the legal right to appoint a replacement if it was not filled by the school board within 30 days. Pereira maintains Ganim has overstepped his authority.

Pereira, Democratic leader of the 138th District, is asking the court to grant an injunction against Ganim, preventing him from appointing another new board member. The latest vacancy is the result of State Rep. Andre Baker who stepped down on August 15. The school board is expected to consider his replacement in a meeting Monday night at Geraldine Johnson School.

Pereira claims Ganim has “absolutely no authority to appoint a BOE member to fill a vacancy. That responsibility rests with the remaining board members. Although the City Attorney claims there is a 30-day window to fill a BOE vacancy, no such time frame is referenced in either Connecticut State Statues, or the City Charter.”

Attorney Kevin Smith, with the law firm of Pattis & Smith, is representing Pereira.

“The laws and history of our state place the pupil above politics in every instance,” says Smith. “Bridgeport’s prominent place in that history provides a clear lesson to even the most casual observer: those misguided actors who would seek to subvert that constitutionally protected, student-first paradigm does so not only at their own political peril, but at the peril of the Bridgeport students and parents who have consistently proven that they will protect their children by any means necessary. In light of the Mayor’s power grab and bastardization of Connecticut law, this action is a necessary means to an inevitable, constitutionally-mandated end: the restoration of local, democratic rule for Bridgeport schools, in spite of any one person or private interest group that would undermine the pupils in favor of political gains. Given how recently his predecessors have stumbled down similar paths without success, Mayor Ganim appears to be no student of History; given the import of the lessons he so blithely ignores, Ganim seems poised to be a repeat student at the City’s expense.”

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Phil Smith

    Interesting legal strategy.

  • Ron Mackey

    Pattis and Smith are different than attorneys the City has or those they hired. Patis and Smith are worth the trip to see them in action.

  • Maria Pereira

    Attorney Smith’s opening statement in the lawsuit is brilliant. I feel I am in capable hands.

  • Maria Pereira

    Dave Walker and Pete Spain should especially appreciate the opening statement of the complaint.

    When they referenced this famous quote yesterday I smiled on the inside because I knew Attorney Smith had referenced it in the complaint.

  • Frank Gyure

    Therefore, has a TEMPORARY INJUNCTION been approved to prevent Segarra-Negron from participating from any BOE actions??? 4:10pm 9/12/2016.

    • Frank Gyure

      Ex parte matters are usually temporary orders (like a restraining order or temporary custody) pending a formal hearing or an emergency request for a continuance. Most jurisdictions require at least a diligent attempt to contact the other party’s lawyer of the time and place of any ex parte hearing.

  • Frank Gyure

    CCM study: Connecticut’s reliance on property taxes too high. CT POST ARTICLE TODAY one week after the Court ruling about “discrimination” of the way schools are funded by The State of Connecticut. The walls between the suburbs and urban areas need to be taken down in the State of Connecticut.

  • Gary Tobin

    THANK YOU AGAIN, MARIA.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    “The laws and history of our state place the pupil above politics in every instance,” according to attorney Kevin Smith. That’s not the case here. Chris Meyer is a sharp lawyer. I doubt he’s wrong about the 30-day window.

    Why bother appointing a replacement? The BOE is the most dysfunctional parliamentary body in the city.

  • Donald Day

    DB, the only reason the BBOE is dysfunctional is because the last two Mayors and the DTC keep playing games with the board by forcing their will ahead of the children of Bridgeport. Do you recall the last chair of the BBOE and how he did what Finch wanted and told him what to do?

    This is no different than before because you have the chair of this BBOE who is in it to further his political aspirations, taking orders from the Mayor and the DTC while putting the best interest of our children second. I can’t speak to the other members of the BBOE including Ms. Negron as to whether they’re in it for any other reason than what’s best for our children, but I know for sure Dennis Bradley is in for any and everything other than our youth. It’s never going to change until the children of Bridgeport are the priority, second to none.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Donald that’s the clearest, most accurate account of the present state of affairs. Once the pattern was clearly established by the prior administration, it became the norm. Trying to undo it has been a nightmare and detriment to all involved with the BOE, especially the kids. Add to that the perpetuation of a “power grab and some subservient members” only God knows how we get out of this with our system offering anything hopeful to the future of the students.

  • Bob Walsh

    I truly hope Attorney Smith will be allowed to question both the city and Annette Segarra about the process that ended up naming her to the board.
    We have been told or know that:
    1) When the City Attorney ruled a Republican must be selected as a replacement, Segarra did not apply for the opening.
    2) We know or have been told she has played no real role in the business of the board as far as charter schools go or parent organizations.
    3) We know or have been told her name seems to have appeared out of nowhere in the selection process shortly after the City Attorney ruled the mayor could make a selection without the board’s approval.
    4) We know or have been told Ms. Segarra had tax liens place on a property she owns and these liens were sold to an outside party that charges 18% interest.
    5) We know Ms. Segarra publicly stated she will start paying these back once it became public.
    6) What we do not know is why and how did Ganim make this selection.

    I hope the judge allows this line of questioning of both the city and Ms. Segarra. I believe once this is fleshed out we will truly see the city’s motives.

    I hope Attorney Smith goes for this. It will explain a lot to Judge Bellis.

  • Frank Gyure

    Mr. Fardy, you are absolutely right. The Bridgeport School System has multiple buildings for their own use. Why go to (RENT?) an outside building unless the BOE owns that building? Even worse, on different Facebook pages, Bridgeport teachers are requesting donations. We have a big problem with Education in the City of Bridgeport.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Mr. Gyure .These people who were elected to the BOE should be in jail. If the teachers strike they go to jail. The elected BOE members have elected to stop performing their duties so they should be arrested. A night in jail with Bubba will wake them up.
    The kids have no notepaper, there are many copy machines that teachers rely on that don’t have toner. There are no more SROs and if there are there should be more.
    The BOE claims a money problem, well lay of 10 administrators and you have $1,000,000. They just don’t care about the kids, it’s a mine is bigger than yours contest.

    • Lisa Parziale

      I admit ignorance when it comes to the bylaws, rules and regulations, and any other vehicle that serves as the City Charter does for the City. The City Charter gives subpoena and arrest powers in the event a boycott like this occurs on the CC or if a relevant member of the administration refuses to appear to answer questions presented by the CC. so that informed decisions can be made. With the support of the Council,I almost had to exercise the subpoena option while CP. Thank God common sense prevailed and it didn’t happen. This boycott by some members has now become a reality and will happen again unless restrictions are put in place. I don’t know how this is done, but there are those who do.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    This is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

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