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Praise Jesus! The Monday Night Fights, School Board Style

March 26th, 2013 · 54 Comments · Education

Ken Moales

Ken Moales, new school board chair.

When Board of Education member Tom Mulligan served on the City Council he once referred to the meetings as the Monday Night Fights. Well the Monday Night Fights have now switched over to the Board of Education. So much for peace and love and diplomacy this holy week. New school board president Ken Moales Jr., a city minister, and Sauda Baraka mixed it up pretty good Monday night as Baraka attempted to admonish Moales for disparaging remarks she claims he made in the past. Here’s some of the blow-by-blow by CT Post reporter Keila Torres Ocasio:

(Baraka) then proceeded to read her motion, containing a list of incidents including one in which Moales is quoted in the meeting’s minutes as having told board member Maria Pereira she was acting like “you’re on Ritalin or you’re special ed.”

Moales refused to listen. “Welcome to the new administration,” he said, loudly speaking over Baraka. “I’d like to make a motion to adjourn. Can I get a second? Welcome to Kenneth Moales Jr.’s administration. The meeting is adjourned, in Jesus’ name have a great night. Welcome to the new revelation.”

With that, all board members and the few staffers and visitors at the meeting gathered their belongings. Only Baraka, Pereira and Kelleher stayed in their seats while she finished reading.

Baraka, Pereira

Sauda Baraka and Maria Pereira, Working Families Party school board members.

Moales was elected school board president after the cordial Jacqui Kelleher resigned from the post. She remains on the board and is now vice chair, the role Moales had occupied. Moales, in his first meeting as chair, was making a statement he wouldn’t allow members of the Connecticut Working Families Party to hold school board meetings hostage deep into the night which had occurred while Kelleher was chair. Was his response to Baraka a bit excessive? Hey, can we all get along?

Read Keila’s full story here.

Government watchdog Jonathan Pelto shares his view on Moales here.


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54 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    These idiots are at it again. Meetings that are unprofessional and unproductive. First off, Mr. Moales should not be on the BOE let alone be president of the board. Mr. Moales has a conflict of interest in that he receives city and state funds for his pre-K school. Second, Mr. Moales has to learn how to run a meeting. He is president of the BOARD, not the exalted dictator of said board.

  • Ronin

    ob·struc·tion·ist (the Connecticut Working Families Party) One who systematically blocks or interrupts a process, especially one who attempts to impede passage of legislation.

    • beware

      rev·er·end Adjective

      Used as a title or form of address to members of the clergy. Noun A clergyman.

      For the “reverend” … please pray for your soul:

      Ephesians 4: 31-32: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

      Please stop threatening people in front of your children. You are not setting a good example.

  • Bridgeport Now

    Here is a brief interview as a candidate:
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=UWXdlriRbeA

  • Ron Mackey

    I must say I find Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr’s comment “I assure you, you will regret doing that in front of my wife and kids” to Sauda Baraka to be totally out of line. First, that is no way to speak to a woman and to someone’s wife. As a man and as a reverend, Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. should know better.

  • Black Rock Barb

    Perhaps this is what will have to happen in Bridgeport to bring the Vallas legacy to the light of day. In 1999 $30 Million in State funds were granted for the construction of the high school on 31st and Kostner. The funds disappeared Chicago style and look who was in charge!

    • Outpost Educator

      Reading the article, it would appear Mayor Daley was in charge. If you knew jack about Chicago, you would know Daley, and only Daley, was always in charge. And this has to do with the Monday night (repeating, always repeating) antics of the board you elected, how?

      • Black Rock Barb

        Vallas is repeating history here. Sadly this article is just one of many about his failed legacy. If you know jack about Bridgeport you know Testa is our Daley–and the DTC is terrified of the votes WFP takes from his base.

  • BridgeportBooster

    Let’s take a poll of how many of the commenters on here actually attend BOE meetings in person or watch BOE meetings on channel 78. Watch on TV or online (www .soundviewtv.org/Bridgeport.html) and see for yourselves. These meetings are crazy. They go on for hours discussing the most mundane details. Micromanagement at its worst. What about the bigger issues concerning students? Worse schools in the state and yet we have a board of ed that wants to go on and on talking nonsense. And where’s the CT Post when Bobby Simmons told Tom Mulligan to “Shut up” at one meeting or when Maria Pereira objected to a parent voicing concern over the Working Families Party’s role in that ridiculous anti-Vallas rally? Or when Pereira voted against a grant for students worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? It’s a shame. Both sides are at fault for letting meetings devolve to this level. Start acting like adults! What about the students? Time for another state takeover!!! Save us from ourselves!

    • BlackRockGuy

      Really, Booster? So the WF Party according to you has no right to protest the illegal appointment of Vallas? And I have attended meetings. And members of Excel who attend those meetings were trying to break up the rally. They act like a bunch of black-shirt fascists and Maria was right in objecting to what the parent said. We are all citizens of this city, not just the puppets of Excel.

    • Jimfox

      I agree 100% with you, BridgeportBooster.
      The CWFP is on a mission of total destruction of the BOE. What have they done to help are kids so far? Nothing!

    • Outpost Educator

      I agree, Booster. With the WFP it’s NEVER about the kids. It’s fun for them to play “gotcha” on some rule of procedure. It’s “I am sooo important, I want to be center of stage as the most offended person on the planet right now.”
      When was the last time (ever?) Sauda or Maria MENTIONED the kids? Let alone did their job to bring an idea or plan or program for the students? It’s me! me! me! It’s all about me! Drama queens. And Bridgeport looks totally ridiculous and the kids suffer.

      • Black Rock Barb

        Really? The DTC machine has controlled Bridgeport for 30 years and look at our schools and city. This city only uses the rules when it is convenient for them to get what they want. Now that someone is standing up to them to follow the rules it is character assault. Change is needed. While both sides are at times off the mark, the city deciding to ignore rules and procedures is what got us here in the first place.

  • CT Taxpayer

    Mr. Moales (I will not refer to him as “Reverend Moales” because I don’t respect him) should be ashamed of his behavior, but I am sure he is not. I am stunned a man who serves on a board of education would stoop to insulting someone by asking if she is on Ritalin or if she is in special education. There are many students in the system who are on Ritalin and/or are in special education. Were I the parent of one of them, I would be at a board meeting to challenge this man for insulting my family.

    Second, he has no business mixing his religion with the board of education because the board is supposed to represent all of the taxpayers and students, not only the Christians. “In Jesus’ name,” as far as I am concerned, belongs in his church or in his private gatherings, not at a public function in a pluralistic society.

    Third, a so-called man of the cloth used his chairmanship of the board as a bully pulpit, which it is not. He threatened a board member because he was embarrassed. Isn’t that too bad? Mr. Moales, you don’t deserve respect if you act like a thug.

    If you believe in Jesus–if you truly believe–begin acting like Him. And while you’re at it, learn how the chair of a board is responsible for civility.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Last night after participating in an NRZ meeting from 7-8:45PM I went to the BOE meeting far into its AGENDA. I had prepared the comments below for the Public Speaking portion but it had occurred already. After the meeting was “formally adjourned” I distributed a copy of the comments below to the eight BOE members present.

    Two weeks ago I came to the BOE meeting, listened to the matters discussed, waited through an Executive Session and did get a chance to comment during the public session. Thank you. Perhaps you will remember I suggested you may assist the voters of the City in the coming elections if you will call their attention to the behavior you expect of yourself, of your fellow members, of the students, professional staff and other stakeholders in the Bridgeport Public School System.

    I thought it was timely after you had completed a current evaluation as well as an ongoing assessment tool, to contemplate how your own behavior might look to the public and how they might fairly grade you relative to Mission, Goals, Objectives, etc. It seems to me that you ought to have a hand in developing such an instrument. (Last week I appeared before the City Council, who face election in November, and asked for their help in the same process in this regard.)

    I understand you will be engaged in a retreat soon, stepping back from the ongoing activity of an operating school system, to reflect and direct attention to the future. Are you content with the current Mission Statement, for instance? “The mission of the BPS and its supporting community is to graduate all students “college ready” and prepared to succeed in life.” Is that really on your mind as you participate in BOE activities? Or do you need to reform the current statement to get closer to what guides and inspires your activity? The sooner you have that discussion and come around to what you really intend, the more informed the community can become and perhaps actually commit to a more productive level than they have in the past.

    So Mission focus and clarity would be helpful to include. Board member attendance, participation, effort, and conduct might easily follow as areas to grade. Finally, competency around specific tasks assigned to individual members can be reflected in the report card as well.

    Watching how each of you represents the community at large in creating a learning environment by applying taxpayer funds in a systematic and professionally structured manner will have meaning for the “watchers.” Genuine learning can spread from the classroom to the community at large. If any of you find this subject worthy of some dedicated time I am sure there are a handful of people willing and ready to assist your efforts, including me. I hope you take an active hand in creating such a tool. If you are not interested in this process, your “watchers” will have to create a scorecard of their own device in plenty of time for the fall election. Time will tell.

    Courtesy, hospitality, good working relations, etc. usually start with agreement on vision and mission. Carrying out the mission for the community may be guided by a brief reflection at each meeting on the agreed-upon Mission. It can work if the agendas behind meeting behavior become secondary to the overall Mission! Time will tell.

    John Marshall Lee

  • Andrew C Fardy

    John, if the mission for the BOE is to get all students college-ready then it is bound to fail. The BOE for years has concentrated on the college-ready student and left the rest to flounder and quit.
    I would have thought in addition to getting students ready for college their mission would also include a program for the kids who are not going to college. Presently we are not doing that, we are just warehousing these kids. The kids are not stupid, they know they are just filling a space with nothing to look forward to, thus they leave.

    • BlackRockGuy

      That isn’t by accident, Andy. I think the powers that be would love to turn this into an upper middle class suburb and just level neighborhoods like the East End and the East Side. Finch made it clear when he first got elected his idea of development is expensive condos.

      • BOE SPY

        If they wanted that, they would not have chased off the hotel/high-end condo project from steel point. You have it backwards, BRG. If high-end condos come, they come with Republicans. Republicans vote and ask too many questions. Like, where did all the money go? The ‘powers that be’ want to keep their salaries in the six figures and the area poor, ignorant and voting Democrat. If they wanted high-end condos, why would they build brand-new low-income housing downtown? Wait until the city takes those mansions in St. Mary’s for back taxes and turns them into rooming houses. That would bust up the Republican-controlled Black Rock area clinching the DTC’s control of BPT.

    • BOE SPY

      The new high school is a first responder school (cops, EMT, Fireman) and a military school. But if you want a trade BPT does not offer anything. I think they have one wood shop and one auto shop in the entire district. That is OK, you can’t make a living as a carpenter, HVAC, plumber, electrician or auto mechanic. You would do much better with a degree in Basket Weaving.

      • Andrew C Fardy

        That is totally untrue. You are belittling working people everywhere. Basket Weaving my ass.

        • BOE SPY

          Andy, does the word ‘sarcasm’ mean anything to you? The path from poor to rich is seldom first generation immigrant or on welfare and the next in medical school. It more often is start a business (deli, restaurant, bakery), next generation work in the business, next generation professional craftsmen, next generation college. The BPT BOE wants to skip all those steps and go from poor to college professional. Not that it could not happen, but I think it would be unlikely.

  • Andrew C Fardy


    • BOE SPY

      You are correct, though. It does belittle working people. It is not me doing it. I am just pointing it out. The BOE has totally ignored those who are not college material but could make a lot of money, say, fixing cars. God knows, I sent my mechanic’s kid to college many time over, with my piece-of-crap car.

  • Chosen 1

    Wasn’t Moales Finch’s campaign treasurer? There isn’t a person on this board who gives a damn about the kids or who is running the operations of the schools.

    • Ron Mackey

      Chosen 1, you are correct, Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. was Finch’s campaign treasurer.

    • Outpost Educator

      Actually, I disagree. There may be more than one person, but Jacqueline Kelleher clearly does. She just couldn’t deal with the craziness of being attacked on “Roberts Rules” every 5 seconds by the WFP terrorists. The rules are to keep the meetings orderly and provide transparency, but the gang of obstruction used them like sword at every opportunity to create such dysfunction BPS actually lost a good and level-headed board president. Instead of attacking Moales, maybe ask why was it so bad a PhD and really smart woman voluntarily stepped down after how many months? At least she didn’t quit outright.

    • Black Rock Barb

      And the amount of $$ he receives in grants and funds for his schools is in the 1 million dollars per year range. Then there is the Charter School he wants to open …

  • Bridgeport Now

    Tonight at 8pm, Bridgeport is now on the map worldwide as first in flight, but wait, the Smithsonian still disagrees. Tonight we release to the public the ‘Letter of Demand’ to the Smithsonian from the daughter of William J. O’Dwyer, who will also call into the TV program tonight.

  • Mojo

    *** Looks like nothing is really going to change on the BOE when it comes to board in-fighting and such. However, out of curiosity, did Baraka get a seconded motion on her incidental motion before being overruled or overlooked by Moales? If so, if recognized by the chair beforehand, would she not have the floor to speak and finish what she had to say? I believe this entire board would do well by voting in favor of having an “independent” legal expert come in and have a Roberts Rules of Order 101 class so everyone is on the same page as to understanding the do’s and don’ts concerning the rules! It may or may not help but at least the rules of order would have been explained and clearer to all on the BOE. Also, their meetings should be recorded and saved for at least a year after said meeting. These negative type meetings, if continued as an us-against-them venue are not serving the city’s school system or the taxpayers and need to stop! *** ENOUGH ALREADY ***

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I though by voting to keep and elected board in place I was doing the right thing. I have been monitoring the BOE meetings and now think I may have voted the wrong way.
    I am sick and tired of the entire BOE and their arguing and nit picking. To President Moales, stick your threat where the sun don’t shine. To the WFP, get off your we are against them mentality and remember you are there to make things better for the kids. You people make me sick, grow up!!!

  • Bond Girl

    This is is an absolutely disgraceful display of emotional immaturity, especially by a man of the cloth. The WFP clan has their moments for sure, but to threaten Sauda in public? In what alternate universe is doing that okay? It’s on the record, idiots. Is your asininity that all-encompassing?

    Now let’s break down the comment to Pereira. Did I just read the chairman of the Board of Education resorted to name calling with the “you’re on Ritalin or you’re special ed” comment? Did I just read the Chairman of the Board of Education simultaneously insulted special education students and their families by saying being “special ed” was something to be mocked?

    It really just boggles the mind these people are the best we can do on our Board of Education, and the “machine” will do anything they have to do to keep them there.

    I wonder how long Jacqui is going to last with these buffoons, now that she has the advantage of a bit of distance.

    I just can’t say enough bad things about this deplorable behavior.

    • Outpost Educator

      Get over yourself and simmer down the rhetoric. He didn’t threaten her or anyone. He loudly adjourned a meeting that needed to be adjourned. If Baraka was so offended the time to raise that issue was when the comment was made–weeks or months ago. Whatever. No more offensive than standing on the steps of the high school for students to see, screaming foolishness with Maria, looking idiotic. Readers, please see YouTube.
      PS–”Man of the cloth???” Is it or is it not 2013? So 17th century.

  • Dave Walker

    All School Board members should act in a professional and respectful manner. All meetings should be run according to Robert’s Rules of Order with an agenda as well as a scheduled start and ending time. Board members should focus on the kids and the future rather than the personalities and the past. No observers should be allowed to protest or be disruptive in the Board’s meeting room but should be allowed to protest outside. It’s not rocket science.

    • BlackRockGuy

      Dave, what protests are you talking about? If you are talking about the one mentioned by the previous poster it was outside Harding and after school was out for the day.

    • Outpost Educator

      Exactly. Well said! And anyone who regularly attended the meetings since October would have observed this is exactly and appropriately how Ms. Kelleher attempted to conduct board business as president, until she apparently couldn’t take it anymore. There is a major difference between a board member using the authority granted by the office to challenge the majority or taking a controversial position on an issue of substance, and a board member simply being difficult for the sake of being difficult. That is what is happening here and it is history repeating itself. The very same individuals who drove the previous board so crazy with unproductive drama and powerplay over minutiae, that board took the unprecedented move of voting to dissolve itself, with the direct result of state takeover, are back at it again. After a year of screaming about the “illegal” state takeover, a fully elected board is now in place and this is where we are. Dysfunctional. Unproductive. No focus on the kids at all. Great.

      • BlackRockGuy

        Spare me, Outpost … Moales doesn’t care about the kids … he has been too busy channeling funds to private religious schools controlled by family members. He should be thrown off the board.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Let me note one major difference in our community I did not see before Paul Vallas and his team came to the City. Are you looking for information on finances that is timely, seemingly accurate when challenged, and includes previously unavailable info regarding grants, revenues and expenditures? We have it today. We did not have it previously. Remember??? When you are in a mess, as all acknowledged we were at that time, let’s appreciate something that marks progress. It is an attitude and behavior that acknowledges OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT. It doesn’t make one a saint nor does it confer the ability to walk on water. But it does provide to a community that will study and to a State government or foundation that will provide added and necessary funds, a notion effort is being made to answer questions that have been raised.

    I see this as a major change. Just think, today is March 27. The Charter calls for the monthly financial report to be available by the 4th Friday of the following month. The 4th Friday of March, 2013 passed last Friday, March 22. WE DO NOT SEE THE JANUARY REPORT DUE FEBRUARY 22 YET!! WE DO NOT SEE THE FEBRUARY REPORT DUE MARCH 22! Yet the BOE has posted its MUNIS-based bi-monthly financial reports for January-February previous to the BOE meeting this past Monday. This type of change is good for the CITY as a whole. Perhaps the Mayor will provide an explanation for why one financial manager can provide timely info while another one is stumbling. (Maybe as the AccountTemps radio advertising says, we need to replace Nurdleman with BOB?) Time will tell.

    • banmenow

      I do admit Vallas is making improvements in your quest for open, accountable and transparent governing.
      However, I will not lose sight of the business we are in. We are in the business of educating the children of Bridgeport.
      Has the education of just one student improved because the BOE’s financial report was published on time? Likewise would the education of even one student be negatively affected by a late report? I think not.
      While any and all information made available to the public is beneficial it is NOT making a difference at the student level.
      There is still a shortage of text books.
      There is still no implementation of the new special Ed software.
      There is still a lack of training for the new reading, math and science programs.
      There was no Successful implementation of the January benchmark testing.
      There are still unresolved administrative issues that have principals suspended with pay.
      There are still key positions vacant.
      There are still subs covering key positions.
      There is still a lack of daily subs.
      Improve some of these issues and we begin to improve the education of children.
      Publishing reports in a timely fashion, although beneficial to understand how and where monies are going does not impact the day-to-day obstacles teachers and students face. Removing the obstacles will begin to turn the tide.

  • Mojo

    *** As Chair, you “don’t” recognize a board member to speak (have the floor), then as the member in turn makes a motion and it’s seconded by another member, you decide you don’t want to hear what’s being said and as the chair, interrupt and adjourn the meeting while the recognized member is still speaking! Then make a verbal threat the recognized member will regret their motion attempt because it was done in front of the new chair’s family, etc. *** ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER 101 ***

  • Mojo

    *** There’s a P/D sergeant who seems to be somewhat in charge of all the Bpt Schools Security. As a Bpt P/D sergeant, I would guess his boss is Chief Joe Gaudett and not the Vallas crony hired as security director for a $130,000 contract a year, no? Don’t know who came first but does the BOE need more security directors ’cause I’d like to apply, no? ***

  • Ron Mackey

    Mojo, now on this one I agree totally, gangster move by the rev. and he looking for respect at meetings, you got to bring it to received it and gangster style will get you more gangsters.

  • CT Taxpayer

    RE: Mr. Moales–The man talks like a thug and he is an embarrassment. The problem is he is so full of ego he doesn’t know he is a fool.

    RE: Dr. Kelleher–Some people are assuming her reason for stepping down was her inability to deal with the WFP board members. I won’t say that had no bearing, because it may have, but I don’t think it was the major reason she is no longer chairing the meetings.

    RE: Working Family Party board members–I actually think your being on the board is a good thing because it would otherwise never look at anything critically. However you need to learn your responsibility is not to be hypercritical of everything. Taking a hard stand on every issue and focusing on every parliamentary delaying tactic you can devise is counterproductive, not only to the board, but to your standing in the community. People quickly tire of craziness. Believe it or not, I want to defend you, but sometimes you make it difficult. On a different note: Don’t be cowed by Kenneth Moales. The man who so freely invokes the name of Jesus needs to find Jesus in his heart, not only in his words.

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