School Board Maneuvering Continues, Special Meeting Monday

Board of Education Secretary Ben Walker and at least three other board members are moving forward with a special meeting Monday, 6:30 p.m. at Geraldine Johnson School. Will selective boycotter Dennis Bradley, the chair, show up?

Walker issued this email communication to board members and school staff on Friday.

On September 27, 2016, Ms. Baraka, Mr. Gardner, Ms. Pereira, and myself submitted a signed special meeting request addressed to BOE Chair Dennis Bradley. The attached documents show that our request was stamped in the superintendent’s office on September 27, 2016 at 4:36 p.m.

CT state statute 10-218, which has been attached for you, states that any three BOE members may request a special meeting and the Chairperson of the Board of Education has 14 days to call the meeting. If the meeting has not been called within the 14 day time frame; it may be called by any three members by giving the usual written notice to the other members, therefore as BOE secretary, I am fulfilling that requirement by way of this correspondence.

It has been 23 days since we requested this special meeting, therefore we are well within our rights to schedule the special meeting. Therefore, the attached documents were submitted to the superintendents office and also stamped by the City Clerk this morning at 11:02 a.m. The agenda is the second page of your attachments.

In addition, CT state statute 1-225 requires each special meeting of a public agency to be posted on the public agency’s Internet website. Failure to post notice/agenda of a special meeting on the BPS website would be a violation of state statute.

Those responsible for posting all special meeting notices on the BPS website are strongly urged to comply with all applicable laws and policies.

When the special meeting request was filed with the superintendent’s office on September 27, 2016; Mr. Fonseca had not yet been appointed to fill Andre Baker’s resignation. Should Judge Bellis rule on Monday, October 24, 2016 that Ms. Negron and Mr. Fonseca were appointed to the BOE illegally; it is our intention to vote on filling Andre Baker’s vacancy with a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules. If Judge Bellis does not issue a ruling, or rules that Mayor Ganim’s appointees have been legally appointed we will move to table or postpone this particular agenda item.

We look forward to working together in discussing and making important decisions regarding our over 21,000 students and staff, therefore your attendance and participation is requested.

Respectfully yours,

Ben Walker
Secretary
Bridgeport Board of Education

Bradley’s response to attending board members:

To Maria, Ben, Sauda and Howard,

This is in response to your calling for a special meeting of the Bridgeport Board of Education on October 24, 2016. The rationale for the scheduling of this meeting is that the Board has not scheduled a meeting within fourteen days following your request for a special meeting on September 27, 2016. As you know, the Board has held five special meetings, on October 4, 5, 12, 17 and 20, following your September 27, 2016 request. In addition, there is another special meeting of the Board of Education scheduled for October 27, 2016. Ben Walker has already approved the agenda for the October 27, 2016 special meeting.

In reviewing the agenda items on your original agenda, and comparing it to the items on the proposed October 24th agenda, it is clear that the vast majority of your requested agenda items have already appeared on a meeting agenda following your September 27, 2016 request:

Approval of Board Minutes – October 17
Salary Increases for Administrative Staff Members – October 17 and scheduled for October 27
Update on CFO, Director of Special Education and School Construction Liaison – Scheduled for October 27
Report on Columbus School Turnaround Staff turnover – October 17
Vote to fill Andre Baker Vacancy – this vacancy does not currently exist, but there is an agenda item on the October 17 meeting to discuss the Kevin McSpirit vacancy

The only agenda items in your original request that have not been part of a meeting agenda, or are scheduled for the October 27th meeting, involve reports/analysis on the Commissioners Network Schools, Turnaround School’s Key indicators and Columbus School Turnaround resignations/transfers/vacancies. As I understand it, the administration has indicated that they will need some more time to assemble the necessary information to appropriately report out on these items. I’m sure that we can all agree that we are better served with an informed discussion on important issues.

There are two additional agenda items that were in your original request that have not yet appeared on a meeting agenda. One is Board committee reports. The other involves possible action on a “MOU with the City of Bridgeport.” Respectfully, I am concerned that this agenda item, as it is noted on the agenda, is contrary to the requirements of the FOIA, which would prevent the Board from taking action on it.

As you can see, your request of September 27, 2016 for a special meeting has been addressed consistent with 10-218, and we have a meeting scheduled for October 27, 2016. Because of that, I would ask you, on behalf of the Board, to not insist on attempting to proceed with a special meeting on October 24, 2016 and cause even more disruption, conflict and legal arguments. I think we can all agree that this is the most productive way forward.

I look forward to your response and seeing you at our October 27, 2016 meeting.

Dennis Bradley, Esq

Pereira’s response to Bradley:

Mr. Bradley,

Any three BOE members have the statutory authority to request a special meetings for ANY agenda items they so choose. There are absolutely no restriction defined in statute 10-218. In this case four BOE members requested the special meeting,

We filed notice requesting a special meeting on September 27th. As Chair of the BBOE you had 14 days to schedule the special meeting with EVERY item we requested in our notice. You have no authority to pick and choose what agenda items we submitted are noticed in our special meeting. ALL the items are required to be noticed in OUR special meeting.

You missed the 14 day deadline, therefore per state statute 10-218 the BOE members that requested the special meeting are allowed to set the location, time, date, and the agenda that was initially submitted to you as chair. Every single agenda item submitted to you on September 27, 2016 is reflected on the agenda filed today. We made no edits when compared to the original request.

The vast majority of these agenda items have had no resolution. If those BOE members in attendance believe they have been addressed we will simply make a motion to table the item and move onto the next agenda item.

In addition, the Special Meeting Notice for Thursday, October 27, 2016 regarding several agenda items was noticed AFTER we filed our Special Meeting Notice this morning not before.

The only BOE members who have authority regarding the Special Meeting scheduled for Monday, October 24, 2016 would be Ms. Baraka, Mr. Gardner, Mr. Walker, and myself.

The following statement by you is absurd; “because of that, I would ask you, on behalf of the Board, to not insist on attempting to proceed with a special meeting on October 24, 2016 and cause even more disruption, conflict and legal arguments. I think we can all agree that this is the most productive way forward.”

You do not speak for four BOE members of this Board, sir. Those that have created “disruption, conflict and legal arguments” are yourself, Testa, Ganim, Larcheveque, Rabinowitz, Meyer, Anastasi, and your two pawns Fonseca and Negron. All of you have behaved disgracefully and I for one NEVER want to hear from any of you that you care about our 21,000 BPS students because as Howard Gardner stated so eloquently “from this day forward it will ring hollow.”

As far as your statement that “I think we can all agree that this is the most productive way forward;” no, we do not agree that is the most productive way forward.

Our lawfully called meeting as per CT state statute 10-218 stands. You, Larcheveque, Rabinowitz, etc. either can choose to behave like responsible adults who will fulfill their statutory obligations and requirements under board policy or continue to behave like petulant children on a playground.

We, however are moving forward with or without you.

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10 comments

  1. How dumb can one person be?

    The most productive way forward would be getting off your ass and stop acting like a child and attend regularly scheduled board meetings.

  2. It is 4:54pm, and the Stipulation of Facts Judge Bellis requested/directed be filed no later than 5:00pm today has yet to be filed. Paul Ganim is refusing to meet the deadline by placing repeated roadblocks in a clear attempt to hold up the proceedings on Monday.

    The City of Bridgeport filed multiple briefs/motions today that are all over the place. I read our brief and it was clean, concise and easily understandable.

  3. I apologize. It is part-time city attorney retired Judge Levin, who is representing Mayor Ganim, who has failed to sign off on the Stipulation of Facts Judge Bellis ordered to be filed by 5:00pm.

    Judge Levin claimed he was busy with the depositions he told Judge Bellis on Monday prevented him from participating in a Hearing today, Friday, October 21st. If you knew you had several depositions on the Friday Judge Bellis told you everything had to be filed by 5:00pm, wouldn’t you make sure the Stipulation of Facts was finalized yesterday, Thursday, October 20th?

    Pure shenanigans.

    Paul Ganim, who is representing Negron, submitted a document basically stating whatever brief the City Attorney filed, he is agreeing with it as well.

  4. Attorney Smith just told me Channel 12 News requested and received permission from the court to attend the Hearing with cameras.

    Please join us at 2:00pm on the sixth Floor of the Superior Court located on Main Street on Monday, October 24, 2016.

  5. Hopefully Judge Bellis will cut through all the BS and announce a ruling Monday at 2:00pm. Can someone work on getting inside GJS so the doors will not be locked or at least someone will be inside to let people in? I would not be surprised if there is a redoubling of an effort to lockdown/shutdown GJS by late afternoon. Maybe an effort to start separating BPS administrators and isolate Rabinowitz. BPS employees need to start making decisions. Do they work for the BPS or Rabinowitz?

  6. As I stated in my rebuttal to Bradley; any three members have a right to call a special meeting by notifying the chair in writing and if the chair does not call the meeting within 14 days of the request.

    This morning I presented a signed letter from Baraka, Gardner, Walker and myself, the CT state statutes regarding three members request for a special meeting, and the statute which requires every special meeting notice/agenda be filed on the public agency’s website. I also included the letter we submitted to Bradley that was stamped on September 27, 2016, and a formal agenda for Monday’s Special Meeting scheduled to begin at 6:30pm at Geraldine Johnson. The interim superintendent’s staff was polite and helpful and stamped every page.

    I then went across the hall to the City Clerk’s office to file our special meeting notice, copies of the relevant statute, and the signed letter with the City Clerk.

    In my seven years involved in Bridgeport politics; I have found all the staff of the City Clerk’s office to be helpful, professional and apolitical.

    A lovely staff member immediately tells me she has to check to see if someone was available to assist me, which is odd because every time I have ever filed documents in the City Clerk’s office the individual who greeted me just handled my request.

    She picks up the phone and then heads to the back towards Lydia Martinez and Frances Ortiz’ offices. She comes out quickly to tell me the City Attorney directed them not to accept any documents not approved by the full board.

    I immediately request to speak to City Clerk Martinez and both she and Ortiz come out front. Ms. Martinez states she was directed by the City Attorney not to take my documents.

    Under state statute, the City Clerk is the record keeper of the City of Bridgeport. The City Clerk is an elected official and does not report to the mayor or any member of his administration. The City Attorney has ZERO authority over the local school board because state statute makes it clear local school boards operated independently of city government. And of course, state statute allows any three school members to schedule a special meeting after the 14 day wait period has expired.

    I shared this with Martinez and Ortiz and Martinez still refused to file our documents requesting a special meeting. I explained I was calling Channel News 12 and the CT Post to have them meet me at the City Clerk’s office so they could capture their violation of CT state statute on film and personally witness it.

    I stepped out into the hall and call both entities and Channel 12 News tells me they are going to call me right back. While I am waiting down the hall I see Martinez walk across the hall to the superintendent’s office.

    Minutes later she exits and waves to me to come in to the City Clerk’s office because since the superintendent’s office stamped our documents, she will too.

    The sad part is whether the superintendent’s office stamped our documents or not is irrelevant. The City Clerk was required to stamp my documents per CT statute 10-218. Ben Walker signs every single BOE agenda as BOE secretary and the City Clerk has never rejected those filings when a BOE employee submits them, but I am an elected school board member with a signed letter with four elected BOE members’ signatures, including Ben Walkers, and Ms. Martinez and her staff thought it was within their rights to reject our special meeting filing.

    The City Clerk has NO authority to “reject” filings from any entity or elected official. Their job is simply to accept the filings, keep them as a record, and notice any meetings as required by the Freedom of Information Act.

    This was deeply troubling and I felt compelled to email my attorney about it.

  7. Maria, Maria, based on the facts I predict the judge will rule in favor of the kids’ education, which will result in Bridgeport’s political establishment being cut down at the knees and the Bridgeport BOE needing to fill the two vacancies. Next step, a Supt. who cares about educating the children.

    Good Luck and God be with you.

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