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School Board Eruption Between Pereira And Taylor–Charges, Counter Charges

June 14th, 2018 · 49 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, News and Events

Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor

A battle over school finances and board policies has erupted into a hostile exchange between Board of Education members Maria Pereira and Chris Taylor. School board conflicts are not new among members, some in open session and some private but the private tone between Pereira and Taylor has become intensely personal that they’re willing to air out publicly. Pereira sent OIB a commentary spelling out her grievances with Taylor who admits to some inflammatory remarks but asserts Pereira gives as good as she gets. Pereira is super passionate, unafraid to express a point of view. Taylor, often full of frivolity, fires back against Pereira’s assertions. What follows is Pereira’s commentary in full followed by Taylor’s rejoinders in bold. The language is not for the faint of heart.

Maria Pereira

Maria Pereira during her 2016 State House run.

On Monday, June 11, 2018, members of the Board of Education reached a new low. I didn’t think that any board member’s conduct could be worse than Kenneth Moales. I was absolutely wrong.

From the onset of the meeting, Chris Taylor had the gall to make a motion that only two board members from each side of an issue could speak on any given agenda item, and that no member could speak for more than two times and/or two minutes.

This was an illegal attempt to disenfranchise elected board members from speaking on any matter they so choose. Every board member has a right to speak on EVERY agenda item.

It was clear that at least five (5) board members had met in advance of the regular meeting to craft motions and assign motions to each other. This is a significant violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Public Comment arrived where the public has the right to address the Board for up to two (2) minutes. JoAnn Kennedy addressed the six (6) machine board members and criticized their conduct. Jessica Martinez started talking back to JoAnn in violation of board policy. John Weldon tried to reprimand JoAnn Kennedy although our own attorney already shared that our policy attempting to control the content of a speaker’s free speech is unconstitutional. JoAnn completed her comments and then Ms. Martinez continued to address her while JoAnn was seated in the front row. Our policy specifically states that board members may not respond to public comment. John Weldon did not uphold our policy. Members have the right to praise or criticize any public official they so choose. If you can’t handle your critics you probably shouldn’t be a public official.

I placed an item on the agenda regarding the limits of authority of Chair Weldon, individual board members and the BOE as a body as it related to giving direction to the Superintendent. Robert’s Rules of Order requires that the individual who brings forth an item be called on first. Chair Weldon had clearly pre-planned that he would call on Jessica Martinez. Ms. Martinez made a completely invalid motion which was “I make a motion that no action be taken on this agenda item.” Some board members cannot prohibit other board members from making motions on agenda items. This is not lawful or allowed in Robert’s Rules of Order. It was simply idiotic.

Chris Taylor is Chair of the Facilities Committee and placed allocating $3,500 to establish a Freshman Harding Football team. This agenda item has absolutely nothing to do with facilities and was inappropriately placed on his committee agenda. I attending his meeting and repeatedly requested to be acknowledged and he stated “I am refusing to acknowledge Ms. Pereira” which is a violation of board policy.

Chris Taylor did not consult with the Harding Principal, Athletic Director or Dr. Johnson before placing this item on the agenda. The goal is to add 40-44 freshman players for a total cost of $3,500. No cost analysis was provided or requested although football is the most expensive sport in the district with an average cost of over $700 per player. The cost of transporting 44 additional players would require an additional bus. You do the math.

The Athletic Director spoke against the addition citing the inequity this would create in the District. What about Bassick and Central High School? What about all the other sports programs that had no JV teams? He was absolutely professional and courteous at all times. Chris Taylor responded with threatening his employment. You could hear the gasps from the audience and staff who looked stunned. John Weldon did nothing. I called a Point-of-Order and immediately stated this unprofessional behavior was unacceptable and that Chris Taylor just threatened a staff member. John Weldon did not reprimand Chris Taylor one iota.

A motion was added and made to rescind the vote to eliminate 6 assistant principals. This also passed 6 to 3. We still need to cut over $2,000,000 by June 30th, and these six (6) board members added the assistant principals back and the $3,500 for Harding football which added over $400,000 to next year’s deficit.

I normally take a former parent home after our regular meetings. I thought she was behind me as I entered the vestibule. As I passed Chris Taylor and Hernan Illingworth who were engaged in conversation to my left, I stated “we need to elect new board members.”

At this point Chris Taylor starts to walk behind me as I exit the school. He states “go fuck yourself you fat bitch.” I turned back and stated “I know you aren’t talking about anyone else being fat.” As I turned to leave he stated “fuck you and your Dutch boy haircut.” I just walked directly to my car.

Two weeks ago Chris Taylor sent me an email stating “don’t get your panties in a bunch” which is sexist offensive and highly inappropriate.

Two weeks prior to that he asked me “if I wasn’t in a relationship, and you weren’t in a relationship; do you think we could be in a relationship?” I stated “never,” turned on my heel and walked away. Chris Taylor has no boundaries and consistently demonstrates completely inappropriate and unhinged behavior.

Staff morale is at an all-time low and several have told me they are seeking other employment. The staff absolutely despises Chris Taylor and there is little respect for John Weldon and his allies.

As two staff people told me today, we know which board members care about our students, do their homework, are prepared to debate critical items and conduct themselves professionally.  Clearly, they were not referencing John Weldon, Chris Taylor, Hernan Illingworth, Jessica Martinez, Dennis Bradley and Sybil Allen.

Taylor responds to Pereira’s commentary in bold:

On Monday, June 11, 2018, members of the Board of Education reached a new low. I didn’t think that any board member’s conduct could be worse than Kenneth Moales. I was absolutely wrong.

First Kenneth Moales recently lost his Mother to drag him in this is uncalled for and disrespectful. Second Kenneth attended Morehouse and Yale Divinity School. That’s Impressive to me.

From the onset of the meeting, Chris Taylor had the gall to make a motion that only two board members from each side of an issue could speak on any given agenda item, and that no member could speak for more than two times and/or two minutes.

This statement is correct. Certain members dominate the meeting and are repetitive. The meetings run far too long and other members are not considerate of others’ time. I feel it is/was appropriate and hope to include such language in the new bylaws.

This was an illegal attempt to disenfranchise elected board members from speaking on any matter they so choose. Every board member has a right to speak on EVERY agenda item.

It was clear that at least five (5) board members had met in advance of the regular meeting to craft motions and assign motions to each other. This is a significant violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Once again this is a misrepresentation of fact.

Public Comment arrived where the public has the right to address the Board for up to two (2) minutes. JoAnn Kennedy addressed the six (6) machine board members and criticized their conduct. Jessica Martinez started talking back to JoAnn in violation of board policy. John Weldon tried to reprimand JoAnn Kennedy although our own attorney already shared that our policy attempting to control the content of a speaker’s free speech is unconstitutional. JoAnn completed her comments and then Ms. Martinez continued to address her while JoAnn was seated in the front row. Our policy specifically states that board members may not respond to public comment. John Weldon did not uphold our policy. Members have the right to praise or criticize and public official they so choose. If you can’t handle your critics you probably shouldn’t be a public official.

I placed an item on the agenda regarding the limits of authority of Chair Weldon, individual board members and the BOE as a body as it related to giving direction to the Superintendent. Robert’s Rules of Order requires that the individual who brings forth an item be called on first. Chair Weldon had clearly pre-planned that he would call on Jessica Martinez. Ms. Martinez made a completely invalid motion which was “I make a motion that no action be taken on this agenda item.” Some board members cannot prohibit other board members from making motions on agenda items. This is not lawful or allowed in Robert’s Rules of Order. It was simply idiotic.

Chris Taylor is Chair of the Facilities Committee and placed allocating $3,500 to establish a Freshman Harding Football team. This agenda item has absolutely nothing to do with facilities and was inappropriately placed on his committee agenda. I attending his meeting and repeatedly requested to be acknowledged and he stated “I am refusing to acknowledge Ms. Pereira” which is a violation of board policy.

This is correct. The item was mistakenly placed on the Facilities Agenda. Let me be clear. I will not acknowledge Ms Pereira in/at any meeting I Chair. Ms Pereira has chosen to defame me at the Galaxy Diner to others I have never met. Because I disagree with Ms Pereira’s views on the Superintendant Ms Pereira became abusive. The ironic part is days earlier we were having lunch together with (education activist) Michael Giannotti at Vinnie’s Restaurant.

Chris Taylor did not consult with the Harding Principal, Athletic Director or Dr. Johnson before placing this item on the agenda. The goal is to add 40-44 freshman players for a total cost of $3,500. No cost analysis was provided or requested although football is the most expensive sport in the district with an average cost of over $700 per player. The cost of transporting 44 additional players would require an additional bus. You do the math.

I consulted with Coach Santiago and Retired Bridgeport Detective Harold Dimbo and other community members. Yes you do the math. It’s a bargain.

The Athletic Director spoke against the addition citing the inequity this would create in the District. What about Bassick and Central High School? What about all the other sports programs that had no JV teams? He was absolutely professional and courteous at all times. Chris Taylor responded with threatening his employment. You could hear the gasps from the audience and staff who looked stunned. John Weldon did nothing. I called a Point-of-Order and immediately stated this unprofessional behavior was unacceptable and that Chris Taylor just threatened a staff member. John Weldon did not reprimand Chris Taylor one iota.

Another, misrepresentation of fact. His job had already been cut. I am tired of people who don’t live in the community or care about our students telling me we can’t!!!!!!!!! We can and we did. Central and Bassick are next.

A motion was added and made to rescind the vote to eliminate 6 assistant principals. This also passed 6 to 3. We still need to cut over $2,000,000 by June 30th, and these six (6) board members added the assistant principals back and the $3,500 for Harding football which added over $400,000 to next year’s deficit.

I normally take a former parent home after our regular meetings. I thought she was behind me as I entered the vestibule. As I passed Chris Taylor and Hernan Illingworth who were engaged in conversation to my left, I stated “we need to elect new board members.”

At this point Chris Taylor starts to walk behind me as I exit the school. He states “go fuck yourself you fat bitch.” I turned back and stated “I know you aren’t talking about anyone else being fat.” As I turned to leave he stated “fuck you and your Dutch boy haircut.” I just walked directly to my car.

Two weeks ago Chris Taylor sent me an email stating “don’t get your panties in a bunch” which is sexist offensive and highly inappropriate.

This is correct. I responded only after Ms Pereria called me a C**K S****R and other names. (Editor’s note: Pereira says “this is an absolute lie.”) I meant every word I said and I said them all in private to Ms Pereria.

Two weeks prior to that he asked me “if I wasn’t in a relationship, and you weren’t in a relationship; do you think we could be in a relationship?” I stated “never,” turned on my heel and walked away. Chris Taylor has no boundaries and consistently demonstrates completely inappropriate and unhinged behavior.

Wow. I have never found Ms Pereria attractive mentally or physically.

Staff morale is at an all-time low and several have told me they are seeking other employment. The staff absolutely despises Chris Taylor and there is little respect for John Weldon and his allies.

As two staff people told me today, we know which board members care about our students, do their homework, are prepared to debate critical items and conduct themselves professionally.  Clearly, they were not referencing John Weldon, Chris Taylor, Hernan Illingworth, Jessica Martinez, Dennis Bradley and Sybil Allen.

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

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49 Comments so far ↓

  • In The City

    The BOE elected officials should be disbanded. They do nothing productive. Just a power grab. Get rid of them all. Board of Education across the state should be rationalized. End of story.

    • Mojo

      *** The entire BOE & regulars at their meetings need a class review on Roberts Rules & do’s & don’ts @ BOE meeting’s. They argue more than accomplish any real meaningful work. I doubt it will help because the board seems to have a few prima-dona’s that think in their own mine they have all the answers to the public schools debacles. Yet every year the entire Bpt. public school system either gets worst or just stays the same. So much for our elected city BOE-members and their continued promises & failures, no? ***

  • Peter Slywka

    Board of Education. No self respect. No self awareness. All Ego. Do you really think you’re a victim, Maria? I’m sure all of your relationships outside of the BOE are just as fresh as a spring meadow. Only the BOE has any animosity towards you. You’re like the Kim Jong Un of the Board threatening Nuclear War on everyone and frightening all of your people into thinking you’re the way, the truth, the answer. It’s high comedy. Oh, but the kids???

  • Maria Pereira

    Let me reiterate that anyone that uses a handle is an absolute coward.

    Chris Taylor is absolutely disliked by every single high level staff member located at 45 Lyon Terrace. They find him disdainful and repulsive.

    On my beautiful 17 month granddaughter, I NEVER said one foul word to Chris Taylor. I don’t use repulsive language. I said no such thing.

    Chris Taylor sees women as sexual objects and is an absolute mysogonist. He has repeatedly hit on me and absolutely asked me if I would engage in a relationship with him. I stated “never” and walked away from him. I have seversl people I shared this with weeks in advance of our fallout and can prove it.

    He met Lisa Parziale
    and told me he thought she was “hot and attractive”. He made inappropriate comments about Judge Lopez. He made inappropriate comments about Debbie Simms.

    At tonight’s meeting he was advocating for allowing convicted criminals to drive our school busses. I was sitting there quietly but looked at him like he was being ridiculous. He then turns to me and states in an aggressive manner and asks “why are you looking at me like that. I don’t like it.” I stated “I am sitting here quietly. I have not interrupted you and am following Robert’s Rules of Order”. He stated his position again and I stated “this is America”.

    Tonight he stated that our bus transportation provider should not be allowed to re-bid to be our provider. How can you stop any company from bidding? His phone rang and he answered his phone in the middle of the committee meeting while staff was speaking. They were clearly taken off guard at this inappropriate conduct.

    We are definitely living in Trump world which may also be North Korea.

    There is not a single high level staff member that will tell you that I am not knowledgeable or well prepared for EVERY meeting. I may be disliked by some, but I am respected for my level of knowledge, research, and preparation.

    I can’t tell you how many staff members have told me that Chris Taylor must be addressed. Several high level staff have told me they are looking for new jobs because he is so insulting to staff.

    The BEA has refused to negotiate concessions because they have been disrespected by several board members. They took a unanimous vote of “no confidence” in Chris Taylor. They also stated they have felt disrespected by John Weldon,Jessica Martinez and Dennis Bradley.

    I am documenting everything because it will be needed down the road.

  • Maria Pereira

    As you can see, Chris Taylor cannot write fully developed and comprehensive responses. Chris Taylor really isn’t in a position to point to others that don’t live in Bridgeport.

  • Owen Denzin

    What an embarrassment for Bpt.. its no surprise we are in this condition

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Stopped reading after a few paragraphs,same threats,name calling,accusations,year after year,and Maria seems to be the common denominator.I’m numb to it all at this point.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Harvey, I will not comment on the content of this issue since I’m not well informed or involved in any way. However, it’s not fair at this point to fan the flames. It always takes more than one person to create chaos, granted some are more vocal, but in my opinion, it’s those members that don’t suggest and encourage dialogue before matters become and evolve to an unprofessional level. Let’s wish for resolution, at least at a personal level, of the members of the BOE. It’s never too late to fix things.

    • Ron Mackey

      Lisa, I agree with you but the name calling has to stop, Maria knows her facts and that’s how all of these issues with the BBOE should be resolved, with the facts and that gives Maria the edge.

  • Maria Pereira

    Lisa, what do you expect? Men are always going to defend the highly inappropriate conduct of other men. Especially white male republicans.

    • Local Eyes

      ><)))*< – – – - – - –

      MP is a biased piranha facing extinction.

    • Harvey Weintraub

      Maria,I’m not defending anyone here,believe me,I think you all are an embarrassment.I’d like to see the whole board replaced.

      • Maria Pereira

        New Haven has an all appointed Board except for two elected members. The former Chair challenged the current Chair to a “dual” at a regular board member.

        The parents have created a Facebook page educating the public about the antics of the Mayoral appointed Board. The Chair was elected but is 100% in Mayor Harp’s pocket along with her appointees.

        Communities with appointed boards are rising up across the country demanding elected school boards because public education is the cornerstone of our democracy and every member should be elected so that the voters of that community could hold their members accountable at the ballot.

        • Marshall Marcus

          New Haven (my home town) hasn’t had a decent BOE in decades.
          The previous BOE was a complete joke. Mayor Harp appointed herself the Chairman. Talk about a conflict of interest…Chief elected official of the City heading the BOE.
          This year they are closing multiple schools.
          It would not make a difference if the New Haven BOE was elected…there hasn’t been a Republican in power in New Haven since 1953

          • Maria Pereira

            Marshall, you are helping me make my point. Until recently, New Haven had an all appointed BOE in which Mayor Harp had the audacity to make herself the Chair.

          • Mojo

            *** Far as I remember New Haven has had a hand picked BOE by the sitting Mayor.***

    • Owen Denzin

      Maria thats racist.. if a “white male republican” said something about a latino or black, , you’d be on the streets marching to have him fired. I suppose Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby are all white male republicans ??
      What a disgrace you are to this city !!

      • Maria Pereira

        First of all, I am neither Hispanic or Black and I would not March to have someone fired. I conduct my own research on every issue and make informed decisions based on facts not emotion.

        Second of all, look at the way white male republicans are behaving throughout the United States. How many white Republican U.S. Senators or Congressmen have called out Donald Trump for his sexist and mysogonistic behavior?

        If you are silent when witnessing racism, sexism, outlandish behavior, etc. you are complicit. You are part of the problem not the answer.

        Third of all, my guess is the statement I made has gotten under your asking because you are a white male Republican. Am I correct in my assessment?

  • Ron Mackey

    Chris Taylor comments to Maria Pereira is a disgrace and as a man he should never talk like to any female, you don’t have to like anything that a females tell you especially as an elected official.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I think the state should step in and take over for this inept group that calls itself Bridgeport Board of Education. You people on this board spend all of your time fighting and nothing gets done. Lets have the state run this education department and then lets set a standard of having people with kids in the school system as the only people eligible to be on the BOE.
    I dont want to hear how this would exclude intelligent people from running for the board. It hasn’t happened yet. Taylor has been on the board for a few months and now he knows everything. Pierra has been on the board and she knows a lot but has no people skills when it comes to the board

  • Maria Pereira

    Andy, the staff and majority of the public are in support of Ben Walker, Sokolovic and myself. We have great relationships with staff. We don’t have support of charter $chool parents and staff and I am 100% fine with not being aligned with FaithACT$ for Education, conCAN, Northeast Charter $chools, etc. Quite frankly, I have even had FaithACT$ members commend me on my level of knowledge and preparedness. We stand for true public education not the privatization of our public schools.

    You aren’t really in a position to criticize someone else’s people skills.

    • Ron Mackey

      Maria, a number of FaithACTS members say both nice things and negative but they have never call you names, in fact they had no problem in saying some of things that they agree with you.

  • Maria Pereira

    I had a Bridgeport business call me today. They shared that Chris Taylor used to come in fairly regularly and hit on their staff. One day his eggs were not made to his liking, therefore he yelled F____ You to the cashier, threw his plate of eggs on the floor, and walked out.

    The owner shared they were happy Chris Taylor stopped coming to their business.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Maria stop,you’re making shit up now.

  • Maria Pereira

    I take pride in being factual and accurate. What I stated absolutely occurred. A female business owner in Bridgeport called me late afternoon yesterday and stated exactly what I posted.

  • Maria Pereira

    Ron, I guess you would have to ask the business owner that contacted me that question. It is important to establish a record of Chris Taylor’s highly inappropriate behavior.

    Not everyone feels comfortable blogging on OIB. Lennie has over 10,000 hits per month, yet only 15-20 people post on OIB regularly. What that demonstrates is that he has many readers that are interested in his posts and that of his bloggers, however they don’t necessarily have an urge or need to personally participate in the discussion on any given topic.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      More than 100,000 views per month, but who’s counting! (grin)

    • Lisa Parziale

      To whom it may concern: Lennie’s readers trump the local newspaper by bounds. I’ve had so many readers of this blog long to contribute their opinions on various matters, however, they become intimidated, and fear disparagement by some more aggressive bloggers. For this reason, I feel more people would be willing and glad to contribute if we keep it real, but civil. Before anyone says it, I admit that I was guilty of surly posts, allowing myself to be baited by some who thankfully have gone away. I still feel embarrassed when I think of some of the words I used. No More!!!! I can accomplish the same end with the use of subtle words and phrases; at least for those who get it. So here’s to those who want to join the OIB bloggers. By the way, what happened to the “Kid.” I miss your input.

  • Mojo

    *** State BOE-school board with an independent state money account that goes directly to the Bpt. Public Schools. The city should be in “charge” of all school landscaping issues,trash & snow removal. Also school security officers, hiring & firing, training, etc.. Anything that falls under “first response issues” in & out of school grounds needs a professional admin.to over-see, staff, training & scheduling, aswell dealing with the unions, etc… State would be in charge of making sure the school’s financing dept. is doing their jobs & not over spending education funds, year after year! Also, do away with all the political debacle’s & grand-standing that has gotten the entire public school’s system “no-where”! ***NEVER HAS & NEVER WILL***

  • Mojo

    *** IN OTHER WORDS, “DO AWAY WITH THE PRESENT BPT. B.O.E”, THEY ARE “INEPT” & “SELF MOTIVATED” TOWARDS THEIR PERSONAL & OWN FAMILY ISSUES, NOT TEAM MINDED TOWARDS FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS, SLOWLY BUT SURELY. *** TIME FOR CHANGE FROM THE SAME OLD POLITICAL(ABC-123) WAYS,TO NEW EDUCATIONAL & TECHNICAL VENTURES THAT WILL START TO PREPARE PUBLIC SCHOOL’S KIDS FROM K-12 TOWARDS, “THEIR COMING FUTURE”.***

  • Mojo

    *** IT SHOULD BE MANDATORY THAT “SOME” BOE MEMBERS TAKE THEIR MENTAL-HEALTH MEDS BEFORE THERE MEETINGS SO THEY CAN FOCUS BETTER ON AGENDA ISSUES, NO? ***

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Enough with this bullshit. Be gone, Maria. Before Dorothy’s house lands on YOU.

  • Donald Day

    Lol. Lisa, he’s baacckk.

  • Mojo

    *** THIS Mr. TAYLOR SOUNDS LIKE HE’S HIT HIS LIMIT IN HANDELING OTHER BOE MEMBERS THAT LIKE TO SPEAK OUT OF TURN ABOUT PAST & PRESENT AGENDA ISSUES. HE’S LOST HIS ABILITY TO BE THE CHAIR & SHOULD STEP A SIDE BEFORE THINGS GET WORST. MAYBE MARIA SHOULD BE THE CHAIR SO SHE CAN RULE THE BOARD WITH HER USUAL B/S, NO? ***

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