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School Board To Revisit Lighthouse Rent Issue

June 27th, 2017 · 2 Comments · Education, News and Events

The Lighthouse program’s five-week summer session scheduled to start June 30, the Board of Education will revisit a $500,000 rental fee levied against the program in a special meeting Wednesday, 5pm in room 305 of City Hall. According to the agenda, the school board will discuss and examine a legal opinion “regarding Lighthouse rental fees” by the board’s legal counsel Shipman and Goodwin.

Lighthouse operates after-school and summer programs in 23 schools. The cash-strapped school board ordered the program to pay up or face eviction.

School board member Maria Pereira wrote recently in a commentary, “In these 24 years, the Lighthouse Program has not paid the Bridgeport Board of Education a single dollar in rental fees, heating, cooling, WPCA, food, custodial, hand soap, paper towel, toilet tissue … Lighthouse is a city program funded through federal, state, municipal funds and parent fees. It is not a BBOE program, yet we are burdened with significant costs associated with operation of this program.”



2 Comments so far ↓

  • Maria Pereira

    Get out to 45 Lyon Terrace, Room 305 at 5:00 PM.

    Shipman & Goodwin, Fran Rabinowitz’ “personal” law firm, gave us such an error riddled legal opinion it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

    Here is the email I sent to Joe Larcheveque, BOE members, etc.
    Mr. Larcheveque,

    On May 25, 2017, Howard Gardner sent you an email stating in part “I am concerned that if we get push-back for the City regarding our demand that they vacate, we have no plan in place as to how we would respond. I would like to suggest that through you, the board request legal advice from our attorney’s as to what options are available to us to enforce our demand on the City”.

    I asked you last night on whose authority was a legal opinion requested when the “board” made no such request? You stated that Howard requested it and no one objected, however I did respond and objected and my email also references the call I made to Howard making my objection quite clear.

    Although Mr. Gardner asked a simple question, the legal opinion states that Shipman & Goodwin was asked to research the “Board’s decision to request payments for the use of school facilities by the Lighthouse Program”. They went onto provide an analysis of five different “issues”. Not a single aspect of the analysis answers Mr. Gardner’s question.

    However, that is irrelevant because only the full board can authorize any act or expenditures, not you or any individual may do so unless the board votes on the matter. I just requested a Legal Opinion on June 12, 2017 which the board voted to support unanimously.

    Board Policy 9010 Limits of Authority

    ” The Bridgeport Board of Education is the unit of authority. Apart from their function as part of the unit, board members have no individual authority, unless duly authorized by vote of the board or a committee thereof. Individually, a board member may not commit the district to any policy, act or expenditure. The board member acts for the community as whole.” This would apply to requesting Shipman & Goodwin to attend any and all Board of Education meetings. Only the full board could authorize such a request.

    Shipman & Goodwin is NOT to invoice this board for this legal opinion because the board never requested or authorized the request or expenditure.

    Board Policy 9121(a) Chairperson

    This enumerates your responsibilities and authority which does NOT include sole authority to request a legal opinion, nor does it state you have the authority to confer with our private attorney unless your “duties are directed by law.. and by this board” which neither applies to the 10 Page Legal Opinion you requested.

    Board Policy 9125 City Attorney

    City Attorney shall, unless otherwise determined by the Board:

    2. Give his/her written opinion on all legal questions referred to him/her by the board of education

    3. Attend all board of education meetings, conferences and other meetings as requested by the board

    Neither Shipman & Goodwin or the City Attorney was asked to be present by the board for the Special Meeting scheduled tomorrow, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, therefore should they be present, I will vigorously oppose any attempt by them to address the board.

    Policy 9324 Board Meetings Preparation

    Before actions by the board are requested or recommended, board members are to be provided with adequate data and back-up information to assist them in reaching sound and objective decisions consistent with established goals.

    As of now, we have no documents, data, or analysis for the following agenda item:

    1. Discussion and Possible Action on Proposed Modification to City of Bridgeport BOE Budget Allocation. (CFO Marlene Seigel has no idea what this agenda item is in reference to)

    How is it our CFO earning over $200,000 annually has no specific knowledge of this agenda item?

    What we have here is a Chair and several BOE members who repeatedly and flagrantly violate our bylaws when they do not advance their agenda, but want to abide by our bylaws with fidelity when it benefits their agenda.

  • Tom White

    Maria, in the past, the city attorney has ruled that an individual city council member can not make a request of a city department, that requests can only be made through official action by a committee or the entire council.
    The BoE Board Policy provides more clarity than the Rules of the City Council.
    You did your homework.

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