John Weldon, who served five years as chair of the Board of Education, shares this commentary on why he resigned his elected position.
A week or so has passed since I resigned my seat on the Bridgeport Board of Education. The media has painted the picture that I did so under criticism of how I led the search process for a new Superintendent. I appreciate they have to sensationalize a bit to sell papers and advertising, and I’m okay with that. However, to set the record straight and give a more concise reason for my resignation, I resigned due to a lack of ethics/integrity in the process of selecting a superintendent for Bridgeport Public Schools and how that continued lack of ethics/integrity could affect me going forward from a professional standpoint as a public administrator with the MTA.
To give some insight, going into the search process, the Board rallied publicly that it would be a search process with integrity. They spoke publicly about recruiting someone with world class experience. The search for an Interim Superintendent yielded a variety of highly qualified candidates, most with doctoral degrees and extensive past superintendent experience (one of them with past Bridgeport Superintendent experience and another with urban Superintendent experience in Norwalk, Hartford and Cincinnati). Despite all of this, when the search committee was behind closed doors, the conversation changed and became focused on racial optics, rather than who could best lead the District. One Board member stated, “I don’t want some middle-aged white guy being the face of the District.” Someone else said, “If we pick Alyshia, we’ll be giving the community of color what it wants. She’ll be like a figurehead and her executive staff will make sure everything gets done.” Also, throughout the process, meetings were leaked to the public, candidate names were leaked by some Board members, interview questions were leaked, and some Board members contacted their favored candidates directly, outside of the search process, to let them know what was going on and give them an inside track. Further, the day after interviews were held, I was contacted by our HR Director to inform me that it was all over the District that Alyshia Perrin would be selected, even though we were still in our deliberations.
A claim has repeatedly been made that Ms. Perrin was the “highest ranked” candidate. In reality, there was no comprehensive ranking system encompassing education, experience, or other technical qualifications of all nine candidates. Rather, there was scoring of how well we felt four of the nine candidates answered a series of interview questions. True, Ms. Perrin scored well with some interviewers, but other candidates scored better with other interviewers. Having said that, to give the impression that any candidate had an overall highest ranking or score is a false narrative and there is no one who would ever be able to provide a matrix to show that. In the end, the full Board never gained unanimous consensus on one candidate. At best, they were split between two: Steven Adamowski, PhD and Alyshia Perrin. In the end, for the racial optics that a majority of the Board favored, Ms. Perrin was elected Interim Superintendent.
I am a career public administrator, currently working with the MTA as a Senior Manager of Construction Contracts. As a public officer who awards hundreds of millions of dollars in publicly funded contracts, my reputation must be above reproach and every process I am associated with has to be followed with a high level of ethics and integrity. The Bridgeport Board of Education has strayed from that and allowed itself to become corrupted in the interest of race politics. An entity that operates like that is not something I can be associated with, from the standpoint of my own professional reputation, and so I must step away from it.
With regard to Ms. Perrin, for her part, all she did was apply for a job. Irrespective of my knowledge of the process and how it became corrupted behind the scenes, and her qualifications compared with others which were far superior to hers, she was the Board’s pick. As such, I spent the two weeks prior to my resignation having HR on-board her with her new senior staff. I also worked with the Board’s attorney to draft her contract, as well as an agreement with her union that protects her by allowing her to stay an employee and return as a union member if she does not get the permanent superintendency. I wish her well because her success is a success for the District and that’s what’s really most important. My issue is not with her, but with a majority of the Board that made a hiring decision based on choosing racial optics over the merits of a candidate and what is in the best business interest of the 20,000 students in Bridgeport Public Schools–and how that practice continuing in the future could affect my own professional reputation.
In closing, as I reflect on my six years on the Board (five of them as Chairman), I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been able to serve my community in this fashion. It has been an enlightening experience that allowed me to encounter so many gifted and dedicated teachers, administrators and other staff members who want to do good for Bridgeport’s youth. I have been proud to serve alongside some very dedicated Board Members, and other community leaders, who I’ve since become good friends with. I wish the Bridgeport school community all the best as it moves into the future.
A tale of two interim searches:
John Weldon’s assertions are just laughable. Back in 2019, the last time the board underwent the interim search process, every single candidate was more educated, more qualified than the candidate eventually chosen for the interim. After hiring an interim in 2019 with no certification, no doctorate, no teaching experience who had never been a principal, all of a sudden a Doctorate matters? All of a sudden experience matters? In 2019, Weldon chose the less experienced white male over two People of Color. Those P.O.C had Doctorates , with superintendent experience and one served under President Obama in a high level capacity.
As far as having to have integrity in the process of selecting a permanent superintendent going forward, I am so glad John Weldon resigned. The last time a permanent superintendent was selected, he and most of the board acted with nothing resembling integrity. As many may recall, behind closed doors, without warning, the interim superintendent was made permanent superintendent going against the initial prohibition of the interim being allowed to serve as permanent superintendent.
John Weldon has also overseen the $30,000, 12% raise, given to The former superintendent by the majority of the board, without negotiation, while still failing to establish residency.
Also, his assertion of there not being a clear majority is a bold faced lie as evidenced from the four members that called him out. https://youtu.be/gre4dZBRsec Both meetings had a consensus of five members favoring Ms. Perrin. As Weldon is quite aware from the former superintendent selection process, the decision does not have to be unanimous in hiring a supt. The current interim superintendent got six votes, one more than the last time we hired an interim.
So here we have a Tale of two interim superintendents, two permanent searches, with two very different stances on educational degrees, and the level of experience. What is the dynamic that changed here? What has caused Mr. Weldon to repeat a baseless accusation by made another applicant and slander our new interim superintendent? What is his goal?
Race politics by Weldon? Yes indeed. Integrity? Not so much.
I wasn’t going to chime in, but my stomach was growling. 😀
Pencil Box, it’s not a tale of two cities. It’s a tale of one city. It seems the Port keeps picking candidates who are not the most qualified and experienced, regardless of racial boundaries,
I mean, while you justified Ms, Perrin’s appointment in comparison to Testani’s appointment, who was not the most qualified. You didn’t dispute what Weldon claimed as to Ms. Perrin’s not being the most qualified and experienced based on racial sentiments. Unless hypocrisy is the tale of the two cities. 🤣
One Board member stated, “I don’t want some middle-aged white guy being the face of the District.” Someone else said, “If we pick Alyshia, we’ll be giving the community of color what it wants. She’ll be like a figurehead and her executive staff will make sure everything gets done.”
But is anybody surprised though? The racial political game/card has been the standard play out of the Port’s political playbook. It’s gotten so much play that black organizations claimed whites were being mistreated when they laid down the race card against Garcia, (Brown) for support of Porter or either black person over Garcia (Brown) SMH
It seemed the BOE process to appoint an interim superintendent wasn’t that stringent and Steven Adamowski may have possessed more education and experience, which was a focal point against Garcia’s appointment. JS
It would be nice to see an open forum for the Superintendent that had taken place for the police chief appointment.
Pencil Box are you in favor of such a forum, having the BBOE break it down to three finalists, and candidates and having the public forum like the Police Of Chief? I wonder if you will hear political organizations like NAACP or Gen Now requesting/demanding such a forum, considering it is their thing to have the community engaged. 🙂
But let’s be honest, Tasted the Movement. You can’t eat a ballot people. What taste are they trying to convey? Mario’s meatball. 🙂
A breath of fresh air, please. This advertisement piece is ripped and targeted attacks. Let’s not forget the stench of racial racism. 😂
When you have a promotional piece stating if the people don’t have a say or a voice in the process and without their participation, which is a choice, and is a very low voter participation turnout, we all might as well be on a plantation.
I mean plantation. If that’s not conjuring up American racism sentiment, resentment, and anger. I don’t know what is. Really Gen Now? That breath of fresh air movement tastes a bit racist from my perspective.:
I know advertising/branding is importing but what kind of SHIT are you serving/selling the people? 🙂
Does anyone find it ironic that Gen Now promotional piece claims that change is hard, but if that change is coming from a woman it’s even harder? Yet they supported a (minority) man over a (minority) woman? Well, ironic or right. JS 🙂
Gen Now, who helped you with that Taste the Movement promotional advertising piece that provided such a fresh of breath air to the Port, Don Draper? 🤣
I feel his pain thought. I don’t have time for your KABUKI. Peace out, play nice, good luck.. 🙂
P.S. Thanks for sharing, I mean Caring. 🙂 @branding. 😂
My bad, I depart with the Apostle Osbourne. 😇
Whichever way anyone wants to describe it, the best word for it is the one I usually use.
Plain and simple.
Welcome to Bridgeport, where nothing else matters except the wallets of those connected.
—used to say that in a specific situation a person can be blamed or considered wrong no matter what he or she does.
Thank you for your good service John Weldon!
A thought, I thought I’ll share.
You know what should be done with Testo’s restaurant? It would seem with the sale of Testo’s, its marks Mario’s exist of Port politics, considering it was teh epicenter of Port politics/power players. I mean it just hosted a fundraiser with attendance of some of CT’s most elected distinguished dignitaries, from the state, local, and federal
Instead of building a monstrosity housing complex that’s going beyond the characteristics of the surrounding single housing and condos neighborhood. Which is going to be questionable, and I am sure the neighbors will have something to say about it.
The Portuguese community should buy it as their new Vasco Da Gama Portuguese Club. Something that they have been in search/want of, for some time. (I believe). They sell the old Club to the Cape Verdean community as their new club.
The plot of land in question is not that large and any housing to justify the demolition of the current and fairly new building for housing would have to be pretty tall. (I would think) Who knows where the Port housing market will be to justify such an undertaking?
I mean the derelict Madison Ave Stop & Shop is a much better plot and primed parcel of land for such a housing endeavor than this half-baked housing endeavor on a corner slice of land.
Speaking of half-baked, cool movie, especially when you’re half-baked. 🙂
So overall, the sale to the Portuguese community seems like a win, win, win, win, for the most part. It’s an upgrade for the Portuguese community with a new location for its club/community.
An upgrade for the Cape Verdean community and a new location for its club/community. It doesn’t upset a hornet nest of the Madison Ave community/residents where one-story and two-story single homes and condos reside with an out-of-characteristic, over-development. Not to mention the derelict Stop and Shop up the road is a much more favorable plot of land for large-scale housing development.
I would think the Portuguese community would like to relocate the Vasco Da Gama Club to upper Madison ave. The only thing that would seem better for the Portuguese people, in my mind, is if Portugal can actually win a World Cup 🙂
Do you know what’s beyond comical? Portugal’s greatest Soccer/Football achievement, to date, is winning the 2016 EURO Cup. In which Portugal’s golden boy soccer star Ronaldo faked a knee injury, and took himself out of the game because, A) he thinks he is all that and B) he “probably” thought they were going to lose and without him, they were most differently going to lose. 🙂
However, in the final minutes of the game, a BLACK GUY comes off Portugal’s bench and scores a last-minute goal giving Portugal the win, and its greatest Soccer/Football achievement. (to date) In which Ronaldo hops off the bench and plays the coach. Laughed My Motherfuckin Ass Off People. 🤣
To be fair to Ronaldo, he’s definitely one of the greatest Soccer players, but he lacks inspiration, to inspire. Bringing out the best in you, no matter how great you are pales in comparison to bringing out the best in others on the field. ~ RT and to the prophet Eminem, who I have been neglecting over the Apostle Ozzy. I depart with.