In a commentary that first appeared in the Connecticut Post, the leader of the District Parent Advisory Council Tammy Boyle shares a pointed perspective about conflicts impacting the parent group.
As president of the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) of the Bridgeport Public Schools, I felt compelled to respond to the letter entitled “Bridgeport Parents Pushed Out” submitted by Cecile Lobo.
The Parent Advisory Council has just entered its 46th year of existence and neither the superintendent nor the Bridgeport Board of Education has ever interfered with the PAC. Now that we once again have a superintendent and Board of Education controlled by Mayor Finch and led by “let’s make a deal” Dave Hennessey, the political maneuvering has reared its ugly head once again.
In 2010, Mayor Finch created an organization called Bridgeport Partnership for Student Success, Inc. whose vice-president was Lee Bollert, an appointee of Mayor Finch. The address of the organization was listed as “999 Broad Street” or in other words, City Hall. Mayor Finch orchestrated the illegal takeover of our BOE in July 2011, and this group was dismantled shortly thereafter.
However, it was simply converted to a new organization called Excel Bridgeport. According to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website, the conspirator-in-chief of the illegal takeover, Meghan Lowney, is listed as the president and Nathan Snow, who was also involved in the illegal takeover, is listed as vice-president.
Snow now serves as president and Lowney as a member of the Excel Bridgeport Board of Directors. Excel Bridgeport portrays itself as a pro-parent organization when they are just a shill for Mayor Finch and charter schools.
After the state Supreme Court ruled Mayor Finch’s coup was illegal, in 2012, Excel Bridgeport spent in excess of $100,000 to support Mayor Finch’s failed effort to disenfranchise thousands of Bridgeport public school parents from exercising their democratic right to elect those that make life altering decisions about their children. So much for Excel Bridgeport being a “pro-parent” organization.
In 2013, the undeterred Excel Bridgeport moved onto the District Parent Advisory Council. During our bi-annual election of executive board members, Excel Bridgeport had paid staff attend the elections and hand out campaign literature for charter school parents and Excel Bridgeport parents in an attempt to orchestrate a coup of the parent association that had existed harmoniously for 44 years.
They worked to turn out a large amount of charter school parents so they could help elect their slate to the DPAC executive board. In addition, Mayor Finch literally stood in front of the school encouraging parents to vote for Excel Bridgeport candidates over true Bridgeport Public School (BPS) parents that had spent years volunteering in our schools. What had always been a respectful and successful event became a contentious and negative free for all.
It was discovered just days later that our DPAC president that was also working with Excel Bridgeport’s Parent Policy Committee, had colluded with Excel Bridgeport to allow a charter school parent and parents closely aligned with Excel Bridgeport to run for office although the vast majority of them did not meet the qualifications to do so. After consulting an attorney, the entire election was discarded and new elections were held. In the end, every Excel Bridgeport parent was defeated.
In Summer 2013, the DPAC by-laws committee worked tirelessly to update our by-laws to ensure the turmoil created by Mayor Finch’s Excel Bridgeport could not occur again. A conflict of interest clause was created and presented to the leadership of each school. After several months of review the presidents/vice-presidents overwhelmingly passed the amended by-laws with just one no vote.
Cecile Lobo is closely aligned with Excel Bridgeport and was inadvertently allowed to fill a vacancy on a school executive board in violation of our by-laws. I recently sent a letter that clearly stated “you are more than welcome to participate in any Multi-Cultural School events; however you cannot serve on the executive board … You may volunteer and participate in any events planned and organized by the PAC and we strongly encourage you to do so.” The irresponsible rhetoric of Cecile Lobo was not a surprise and is typical of those associated with pro-charter school organizations.
One must ask would an employee of Macy’s ever be allowed to serve on the board of directors of Lord & Taylor?
The answer is a resounding “no.” However the Macy’s employee could continue to shop at Lord & Taylor, attend in-store events and redeem their coupons, but they still wouldn’t be allowed to serve on their board of directors. The reason is it is a clear conflict of interest.
When you have an organization with over 50 executive board members and approximately 30,000 members at large, dissension and internal strife are to be expected. The expectation that 30,000 BPS parents will be in perfect harmony at all times is unrealistic. The Board of Education only has nine members and they rarely agree unanimously on any one topic. It is often referred to as democracy.
Fran Rabinowitz and Mayor Finch’s Board of Education have made a decision to use the public schools’ limited financial resources to have their high powered attorney “investigate” thousands of Bridgeport public school parents.
All this effort expended in order to protect approximately 100 parents associated with these millionaire and billionaire funded organizations instead of standing up for the thousands and thousands of parents that truly believe in the Bridgeport Public Schools.
The constant “bullying” and “harassment” by those associated with pro-charter school organizations like Excel Bridgeport, ConnCAN, Families for Excellent Schools, Northeast Charter Schools, etc. will not be tolerated. If Mayor Finch’s band of merry men/women really want to address the “bullies” within the BPS, I would strongly recommend Fran Rabinowitz, Dave Hennessey, Joe Larcheveque, Hernan Illingworth, Kenneth Moales Jr., Andre Baker, Dr. Jacqueline Kelleher and Kadisha Coates find the closest mirror.