Armed with a court ruling that he can appoint school board members to fill vacancies if the Board of Education does not act within 30 days, Mayor Joe Ganim may once again take executive action with the one-month resignation of Republican Kevin McSpirit on the horizon next week. If that happens Ganim will have appointed one-third of the nine-member body in less than four months.
Ganim appointed Annette Segarra-Negron to replace Dave Hennessey and Rafael Fonseca to fill out the term of Andre Baker. On Monday Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis upheld Ganim’s authority that had been challenged by board member Maria Pereira who is weighing an appeal of the court’s decision.
Hours after Bellis issued her decision from the bench, three school board members (see video above), Pereira, Howard Gardner and Ben Walker who had called for a special meeting per state statute arrived at Geraldine Johnson School. Per Robert’s Rules of Order and board policy, they adjourned the special meeting by posting a notice at the location of the originally scheduled meeting. It was signed by the highest ranking officer present, Ben Walker, who serves as secretary. As Pereira approached the school entrance, a custodian, security guard and police officer, according to Pereira, locked the main entrance denying board members, all of whom had identification, from entering the building. Although a quorum was not at hand they had intended to meet to discuss school business. The board members say there’s no prohibition on them meeting to discuss school business if there’s no quorum.
McSpirit’s replacement must be a Republican and the deadline to submit an application is today (Thursday) at 5pm.
Although pleased with Bellis’ decision Ganim says he’s not pining to fill school board vacancies, but continues to do so to maintain a full board to conduct business. But conducting business has been a rare occurrence lately following the announcement by Chair Dennis Bradley that he will boycott selective meetings until Pereira resigns (she’s not resigning). Others have followed his lead. Bradley has been attending some special board meetings with a selective agenda that he controls. So if the board does not agree on McSpirit’s replacement soon, Ganim can fill the vacancy.
Ganim’s appointments are key to Bradley continuing as chair. The board’s annual organizational meeting will take place the first week of December. Pereira, Walker, Gardner and Sauda Baraka vote in a bloc on a number of issues. That leaves Bradley, Segarra-Negron, Fonseca and Joe Larcheveque to fill out the current eight members. So the next member is a key swing vote.