Calling All Lawyers! A Supreme ‘Technicality’ Has State Amending School Takeover Language

UPDATE: This could become a legal rat’s nest.

Bracing for the possibility the Connecticut Supreme Court overturns state control of city schools based on a technicality Governor Dannel Malloy is asking state legislators to approve language that would erase the provision that required the elected Board of Education to receive training to improve school operations before asking the state to take control. School board members apparently did not receive the training. Does this mean a decision by the Supremes is coming soon? If so, and if they rule against the state takeover of schools based on a technicality versus constitutional does the eventual approval of this legislative change then trump the Supreme Court decision?

Confused? Me too. Calling all OIB lawyers …

Norm Pattis, an attorney representing  elected board members opposed to state control, says: “If Dan Malloy thinks the vote is a technicality he ought to move to China. The legislative change making it easier for bureaucrats to depose elected officials is a fascist’s nocturnal emission.”

The Hartford Courant story here.



  1. “Technical training” for Bridgeport public servants is not really desired by the people in power! You know, they might learn something, something that contradicts the Bridgeport way of doing things! They might even have the audacity to ask questions of those same people in power, reasonable questions? And for sheer stubbornness they might expect a complete statement, written with sources noted, provided in a timely fashion!!!
    How unrealistic was the CT legislature when they passed this law with specifications that are being readied to be thrown overboard? At least they are looking at the law and trying to ‘correct’ it ex post facto.
    In Bridgeport, you can ignore the Charter requirement for 12 monthly financial reports to be provided each year and nothing happens to you. Ask Tom Sherwood who indicates the practice has been followed since the Financial Review Board left town. What the public doesn’t know hurts us. What the City Council does not know, hurts the public! Let’s see what the Charter Review Commission focuses on when they complete the first review, the redlining process. They have scheduled more public hearings. You can be heard. You must share what you know to be true of City process and citizen participation at this time. Do not count on them knowing as they have not been part of the hurly-burly of City governance process for years or at all, and that leaves them ignorant of how poorly is the system for public affecting City process: being heard; getting responses; seeing how any administration works its will through a broken check and balance process with waste of valuable time and resources. (Does anyone know where we keep the “armored personnel carrier” purchased in the 2011 budget year with $254,000 of Federal grants money, presumably? And why were those Federal tax dollars spent for that purpose by Bridgeport? And why is it no one wants to offer an answer on this? Is it absurd to question this?) Time will tell.

  2. These bastards never stop. If a law is in your way, just change it. They will do anything to get their way. Approx 8 months ago the entire elected BOE was dismissed under cloudy circumstances. One of the major things was they never received any training. The elected BOE was replaced by a handpicked group of people, many with no experience in managing an education system. To date, none of these people have received any training.
    Has our school system improved since they were appointed? No!!! Show me one major improvement made under this board. Supplies are not readily available, substitute teachers are not available in the tougher schools and classrooms are too large because classes are split up if no substitutes are available.
    Why isn’t the BOE clamoring for the $2.5 million in ECS funds that have been held back by the Finch administration? There are probably 2 reasons why: 1. They don’t know about this hold back, or 2. They were told to keep quiet.
    Malloy is a phoney, why would he do this to Bridgeport? This legislation would hurt Bridgeport not help it.
    Let’s tell the truth here, the Finch administration could not run a whorehouse by hand, let alone manage a school system.

  3. Beacon’s comment reminds me of when city Comptroller John Hahn described Bridgeport’s financial condition as “technically bankrupt.” That was a good five years–maybe a little more–before the city went officially bust.

  4. With a $15 trillion debt–not a penny of which has been paid back–America is already technically broke. It all started on July 30, 1965 when America made the worst trade in modern economic history. If you have assets that exceed your debts and 1 dollar in your wallet, I think you’re outperforming The United States of America. Others agree.

  5. To my knowledge there are 169 school districts in CT. This legislation will impact all of their elected boards of Ed as well. Where are they on this issue? I can’t imagine the more affluent districts that actually embrace training and understand the value of it will sit by quietly.

  6. barney,
    My bet is the other 168 towns view the training requirement as an unfunded mandate. They will not object to this legislative change. The gov now has a commission charged with eliminating all of the unfunded mandates in education that are diverting money from benefiting the kids in the classroom. More money needs to help the teachers and the students in the classroom. That is state education commissioner Pryor’s mission so the educational outcomes improve.

    1. countdown,
      I do believe the mission of Finch, Vallas, Pryor and Malloy is to improve educational outcomes. However, eliminating all unfunded mandates is all smoke and mirrors. The four “leaders” are all pushing charter schools. If Bridgeport could get rid of their two lowest-performing schools; Roosevelt and Dunbar, then overall Bridgeport’s scores would improve. Under Ramos they tried to close both Roosevelt and Dunbar. They failed because they did not do the proper politicking. Now with these four leaders being big advocates of charter schools, they will try to make Dunbar and Roosevelt into charters, thus not having to own their low test scores.

  7. *** Include an amendment with this legislation vote that the new state board must achieve this training within 90 days after; should the Supreme Court vote in their favor. *** GIVE CHANGE A CHANCE ***

  8. Don’t be surprised if the next thing the Mayor and the Governor propose is legislation to “clarify” the right of municipalities to establish appointed, rather than elected, boards of education.

  9. Revolutions are often described as “bloody,” whether we look at American, French, Russian, Hungarian, or more recent events including ‘Arab Spring’ variety. South American and African revolts often feature a military coup with limited blood spilled, and generous telegraphing of intent to overthrow that allows one military-style leader to safely exit ahead of the new military-style leader. Not much change for the citizen.

    The near corpse locally that is the body politic in Bridgeport attempting to work at democracy is too far gone to suffer a bloody revolution, it would seem. Municipal lifeblood of money flow that caused the City to be attended by a State Financial Review Board (with savvy leadership including Carson, Milano and others) serving as fiscal emergency rescue over 20 years ago. Subsequent charter change allowed more empowerful Mayors to exercise their ego (and vision) to increase City debt, preside over a decline in “unrestricted, unreserved and undesignated City fund balance” to a level closer to 2% of City budged contrasted to almost 12% and generally keep sharing vital fiscal info from seeing the light of day publicly. Substantial economic development necessary to rehabilitate the City has been anemic and anecdotal, rather than serve as gross reforming change.

    Flat funding of education by Mayor Finch in his first four-year term, and failure to use the money carrot plus the stick of the bully pulpit allowed local school leadership to wallow in low outcomes for City youth in so many areas and become frustrated in their mission to boot.

    Accountability about finance, educational program, and results was equally limited and disappointing.

    Does a sitting Mayor with a limited view of what OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT governance looks like, as demonstrated in his first term, need to have additional authority or responsibility to become a genuine ‘player’ for education? Personally I don’t believe he has made a credible case for it, though the process of empowering a new educational leader in town, Paul Vallas and team may bring Bridgeport a long way towards necessary reform in ‘quick time.’ And you needn’t be happy with the secret, power process used to get Vallas and team to Bridgeport, and I am not.

    Meantime, what revolution would you advise the Charter Review Commission to produce for the City? (We are likely to live with their changes, if approved by the City Council and subsequently voted favorably upon next November for another 10-20 years anyway.) Around fiscal checks and balance? Around “an information revolution” using new technology to share City info, to communicate it better at public meetings and allow fuller archiving, and to educate and train all municipal employees, elected representatives and the public itself in ‘best practices?’ What would you suggest to Charter Revision at their upcoming PUBLIC MEETINGS where the PUBLIC IS ENCOURAGED TO SPEAK? Help the City “clarify” the responsibilities of the elected and the rights of the people in terms of good governance. Time will tell.

  10. Malloy and his Malloyalists, Stiffstrom, McDonald and including Bully Boy Finch now want to control all three branches of government.

    I hope the Paper Chase, Chief Justice Rogers will put a stop to their legislative shredding operation.

    Where is our Silent Majority State Delegation on this and the SEEC situation???

    We got how much money for Longfellow school and it’s full of ash. What a bunch of Ash-Holes!

  11. This is total nonsense. The state pursues the issue to the Supreme Court and when it looks like they might lose they look to rewrite the law, retroactively, because it was so poorly written and enforced???
    I pray to God the Supreme Court laughs their collective asses off with this as a proposed resolution.
    And for former State Sen. and Chair of the Judiciary Committee Andrew McDonald to suggest more harm will be done now if the state must undo everything that was done improperly, then I say too bad.
    Mr. MacDonald should have been advising the Governor back in July not to do this rather than trying to advise the Supreme Court now.

  12. “Bracing for the possibility the Connecticut Supreme Court overturns state control of city schools based on a technicality Governor Dannel Malloy is asking state legislators to approve language that would erase the provision that required the elected Board of Education to receive training to improve school operations before asking the state to take control …”

    Lennie, you make it sound as if the only issue or argument the Supreme Court is considering and deliberating over is: “the provision that required the elected Board of Education to receive training to improve school operations before asking the state to take control.”

    Based on the actions of Malloy and company, they seem to be thinking around the same lines as Lennie. Bad move, if I may say! I’m sure the Supreme Court is aware of the steps being taken by the State and the City, and have a clue as to what they are trying to do and why. I think the Supreme Court is taking a serious look at the FOI documents of the meetings and Teleconference documents from the once-secret communications between the City and the State. The ruling from the Supreme Court may come out sounding like an indictment of the City and State. Malloy should have held his horses until after the Supremes sing.


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