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.
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!):
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.
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.