School System Leadership Struggles With Bagley-Replacement Issue

LaMar Kennedy

Nothing like an email thread to get your Monday jumpstarted. At issue is the way senior school officials handled the jettisoning of hoop icon John Bagley as coach of Harding High basketball for outgoing school board member LaMar Kennedy who also has experience as an athletics coach in Waterbury. The party line is, somewhat conveniently, Bagley did not pursue his certification correctly, something Bagley disputes.

Anyhoo, sounds like the powers that be wanted Bagley out. Did anyone stop to think, hey, if we’re going to make this community-sensitive decision let’s treat Bagley with dignity and respect?

This issue is murky with semantics involved, but Connecticut law prohibits school employees from serving on the education board that oversees them.

Sec. 10-232. Restrictions on employment of members of board of education. Notwithstanding the provisions of any special act to the contrary, no member of the board of education shall be employed for compensation by the board of which he or she is a member in any position in the school system. If any member of such board is employed contrary to the provisions of this section, the office to which he or she was elected or appointed shall become vacant. No provision of this section shall be construed to prohibit any member of a board of education from serving as a member of any school building committee established by a town or regional school district to undertake a school building project as defined in section 10-282.

The thread that follows was sent to Board of Education members as well as OIB and CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck.

It starts with this email from Rita Valle who works for Acting Superintendent of Schools Mike Testani:

There will be a Personnel Committee meeting held on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 6 PM in City Hall, Conference Room 324.

Up next, school board member Chris Taylor:

Chairman Weldon as much as respect you and have supported you, I am baffled as to why you are keeping Mr Kennedy on the BBOE letterhead. It is blatantly clear Mr Kennedy has accepted a position with the Bridgeport School System therefore by CGS his Membership has terminated. You are sending a bad message. All this could have waited till his term expired. This has nothing to do with Mr Kennedy and everything to do with your leadership as Chair. Do any other members feel as I do??

Followed by Board Chair John Weldon:

This matter was vetted with Counsel last week when it was first learned that Harding wanted to utilize Mr. Kennedy as a coach. While the CT Post and Only in Bridgeport ran pieces on it, in reality, Mr. Kennedy has not signed (nor has he been issued) an offer letter to be the Harding Basketball Coach. For that reason, his status as a Board Member remains in effect. If you would like further clarification, please feel free to ask Atty. Dugas to contact you.

Then Taylor:

John sounds fishy, smell bad and looks bad. It was my understanding the job was offered and accepted. Yes I would love to hear from Attorney Dugas.

Followed by CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck (Good for you, Linda!):

Hi John,
Lamar told me he signed on to be head basketball coach when I spoke to him on Nov. 11. The superintendent confirmed it that same day. The Harding athletic director announced it on twitter the weekend before. So unless they are all lying Lamar Kennedy most definitely was made an offer/hired by the district on Nov. 8. He may not official start until December but he committed to working for the district.

And now with a job offer in front of him is being asked to vote on the personnel director for the school district. Of the three candidates, two have political connections to the city.

Taylor again:

John, Linda Lambeck and The Superintendent confirmed the employment. John please cancel the meeting. John it is with a heavy heart I ask you to step down as Chairman. Your behavior on this matter has not only affected every Board Member but the entire school district as well as the City that is already in turmoil. If Attorney Dugas rendered that legal opinion as you stated he should be removed as well.

School board member Joe Sokolovic:

While I won’t comment on anything else, as speaking of issues outside of meeting scheduling on a group email may constitute a “meeting” speaking in scheduling is allowable. Therefore I concur that in the best interest of the BBOE and the city, that this meeting should be cancelled and rescheduled.

Monday afternoon Rita Valle who works for Acting Superintendent of Schools Mike Testani:

In light of Mr. Kennedy potentially becoming a District employee in the near future and how that relates to a potential conflict in him participating in interviewing Personnel Director candidates, combined with the indication that Ms. Martinez is unable to attend it, the Personnel Committee Chairman has decided to cancel tomorrow’s Personnel Committee meeting. A new date and time will be coordinated with the candidates for after the Thanksgiving weekend.

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18 comments

  1. John Weldon, Lamar Kennedy, Berchem & Moses Ganim mercenaries, ACTING Superintendent Mike Testani, Harding Principal Dane Brown and Harding Athletic Director have no morals, ethics or principles.

    John Bagley is not only an iconic WHHS alum, he is an iconic son of Bridgeport. I have a copy of John Bagley’s 45 hour coaching completion certification and his CPR certification. It was staff in the BOE H.R. office that failed to submit these two certifications to the state. Had H.R. simply told John Bagley he had to submit it himself he would have done so.

    This was a coup orchestrated by Testani, Brown and Grasso.

    Lamar Kennedy interviewed, was offered and accepted a paid position with the BOE and John Weldon, Lamar Kennedy and Berchem & Moses is asserting Lamar Kennedy can continue to serve on the Board voting on critical proposals, contracts, and more proposed by his new boss ACTING Superintendent Mike Testani.

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  2. John Weldon has called a Personnel Connittee Meeting tomorrow night regarding interviewing candidates to fill the powerful and critical Director of Human Resources position.

    Two of the three finalists are either City of Bridgeport employees or politically connected to Mayor Ganim. One was regularly phone banking at Testa’s for Joe Ganim this past election.

    Anyone that John Weldon, Mike Testani,,Mayor Ganim or Mario Testa will be placed there to provide a massive amount of patronage jobs.

    The largest line item in the BOE Budget is payroll. We have 2,700 employees.

    Lamar Kennedy is on the Personnel Committee with Jessica Martibez and Lamar Kennedy.

    Should Lamar Kennedy have ANY involvement in the hiring of the very H.R. Director who will be responsible for addressing issues with his employment, evaluation, discipline and possible termination?

    I hope we can all agree the answer is a resounding no.

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  3. Lennie definitely contribute to Bridgeport in a positive way.

    I just received a Personnel Committee meeting cancellation notice.

    I assure you that had Lennie not publicized this issue, and had Linda Lambeck not weighed in on the issue in the thread itself, John Weldon would NOT have cancelled his Personnel Committee Meeting.

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  4. I find it most amusing that BOE member Chris Taylor is challenging the legitimacy of the continued membership of BOE member Lamar Kennedy on the basis of being in violation of CGS when he himself is in violation of CGS concerning his residency. Oh, the irony. Oh, the hypocrIsy.

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    1. So true, Ben

      Convicted felon and Southport resident Chris Taylor is decrying Lamar Kennedy continuing to serve on the very Board of Education that he himself is serving on in absolute violation of state law.

      Please remember, Mike Testani had to receive a MINIMUM of 5 votes to be appointed as the most unqualified ACTING Superintendent in the last 30 years.

      Chris Taylor was one of his 5 votes which means once the SEEC rules Taylor has never had the right to serve on the Bridgeport Board of Education, Mike Testani will have been serving as ACTING Superintendent illegitimately.

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  5. Sidebar; FaithActs will hold a open discussion with Mayor Ganim concerning education today, Nov. 18, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 This evening at 35 Benhan Ave. It’s free and open to the public and there will be food.

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  6. I am not sure what this is all about BUT it seems to me there is a very simple resolution. Lamar Kennedy is not longer a member of the Board of Ed. Case closed.
    The lawyer representing the BOE should recuse himself from any discussion in this matter and even if the city continues to use this law firm it should cease using this lawyer completely.
    Any lawsuit or legal action concerning this matter should be reimbursed personably by this attorney.

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  7. Now we’re upset even though all you that didn’t vote for Marilyn Moore knew that the subjugation of Bridgeport, the BBOE and the rules of fair play would continue unabated under Mayor Ganim. Yet you will profess that You Love Bridgeport! PLEASE!

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    1. Don, thank you for spelling that out, a bad Marilyn Moore would have been much better than the continued abuse of power by Ganim and Mario, it was so important to keep Marilyn Moore from being being mayor because personally issues. A tiger can’t change its stripes and neither will Ganim and Mario and again everybody knew.

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    2. Unlike you, we are actually Bridgeport residents and voters that have worked tirelessly on behalf of our 20,400 BPS students.

      Marilyn Moore has done as much as Joe Ganim when it comes to our 20,400 students.

      Let those of us that actually reside and vote in Bridgeport worry about Bridgeport.

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      1. Maria, you are disingenuous, nobody knew more about how Mayor Joe Ganim has hurt the education of the 20,400 students by not properly funding the education of Bridgeport, Ganim kept flat funding education every year and you know this. Mayor Ganim and DTC Chairman Mario Testa along with State Senator Dennis Bradley stopped all business of the BBOE because the majority of the BBOE members agree with holding a “boycott” until you Maria, resigned from your position on the BBOE. Maria, you have the audacity to say, “Marilyn Moore has done as much as Joe Ganim when it comes to our 20,400 students,” what the hell are you talking about, you are saying that Marilyn Moore hurt the 20,400 Bridgeport school students more than Mayor Joe Ganim shows your hatred of Marilyn Moore and what a liar you are.

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  8. I do not know LaMar Kennedy and I have no first hand opinion of his abilities as a basketball coach or for that matter as a BBOE member.

    I do however, know John Bagley. I watched John play while he was at Harding and I followed him in college and the NBA. Later, I got to know John during his tenure on the BBOE. John has been an exceptional basketball player and an outstanding, independent and honest BBOE member.

    Most importantly, John Bagley has given his all for Bridgeport’s youth.

    His tawdry and perhaps illegal dismissal as Harding’s head basketball coach is a disgrace. Unfortunately, it is also another example of how things are all too often done in Bridgeport.

    John Soltis – Harding ’69, BBOE 1983 – 90.

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    1. Yea! John Soltis. Despite 200 BPT residents @ FaithActs last night demanding that Mayor Ganim pay up Min Required City funding for our public schools in his first second term as Mayor the best Ganim could do was announce a “committee.” And the Harding basketball coaching mess is another bad omen. Parents in our city demand a true search for a qualified Superintendent who can stand up to all the machinations that go on here.

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      1. Gail, that’s why it was more important to hey rid of Mayor Ganim and Mario Testa no matter what even if you didn’t like Marilyn Moore because we all knew. what we were getting with Ganim and Mario.

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  9. Paging Ernie Newton, this is being done to Brother Bagley by ya boy Mayor Ganim who could have put a stop to this in 2.2 seconds. But Ernie why should Mayor Ganim, because he can disrespect a valuable asset from Harding High School and a respected member of the Bridgeport community with impunity from our so-called Black leaders like you. This is a Brother you have known your whole life and to sit quietly by while this is being done especially since you said that you look out for your people is pathetic! Bags isn’t your people? Or is Joe Ganim your people?

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