The battle for control of the Board of Education continues Monday (tonight) with a scheduled special meeting for “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Superintendent’s Performance Evaluation,” according the school board agenda. The meeting will take place 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, Conference Room 305, 45 Lyon Terrace. The nine-member school board is split with four of its members declaring opposition to extending school chief Paul Vallas’ contract while a slim majority of five is poised to offer him a new deal. Vallas says he’ll stay on another year if an offer is made. Will the majority of five hold up?
Three Working Families Party school board members Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John Bagley claim Vallas is not fit to remain as school chief. Renegade Democrat Bobby Simmons has generally joined them as an opposition bloc to Vallas initiatives including his proposal to build a new Harding High School on property owned by General Electric on Boston Avenue. The city has entered into an agreement with General Electric that is pending approval by the City Council.
Democrats on the school board Jacqui Kelleher, Ken Moales, Tom Mulligan, Hernan Illingworth and Leticia Colon say they like the progress made under Vallas. School board meetings have become a battle of attrition, particularly at the committee level, as WFP members attempt strategically to extend meetings deep into the night with anticipation that a member or two of the majority voting bloc departs the meeting for family and work obligations. Kelleher, a professor at Sacred Heart University, chairs the full board meetings. Critics of the WFP tactics claim Kelleher has been overly diplomatic in reaching out to board members who’ll oppose under any circumstances. So how Kelleher chairs the meeting tonight is key to whether Vallas’ contract is voted on and extended, put off for another day, or possibly defeated.
The majority of five is a fragile existence that at times has been outmaneuvered by WFP school board members.
The second agenda item Monday night is “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Employment and/or Election/Appointment and Superintendent’s Contract.” This item, according to the agenda, could go into executive session.
Either way, Monday night’s school board session could end up as a Monday Night Fight. Reserve your seats.
Vallas is being judged by this evaluation.
(Editor’s note: video above was filmed and produced by Jessica Martinez, a parent member of Parents 4 Progress that has come out in support of Vallas.)