Education Chief Refuses To Assign Staff To School Board Committee Meetings

A fallout of the selective boycott by some Board of Education members including Chair Dennis Bradley is the lack of nuts and bolts work that is generally conducted at the committee level. Bradley has opted for short-agenda special meetings that can conceivably provide him greater control to direct policy, eschewing the committee meetings and larger-agenda full board meetings. Outgoing Acting Superintendent of Schools Fran Rabinowitz is siding with Bradley in the scheduling of meetings irrespective of other board members pushing for completion of committee work to keep school business moving.

Corroborating Rabinowitz’s refusal to attend and assign staff to committee meetings is an email thread from Sunday morning with board Secretary Ben Walker who has joined Maria Pereira, Howard Gardner and Sauda Baraka in opposition to the boycott. Rabinowitz announced in frustration that her departure will come at the end of the year because she’s at odds with Pereira. Walker, as board secretary, wrote the following to Rabinowitz in support of a committee agenda:

On Oct 16, 2016, at 9:38 AM, Walker, Ben <> wrote:

Please prepare a notice for the Teaching & Learning Committee meeting scheduled for October 20, 2016, 5:30 pm, 45 Lyon Terrace, Conference Room 305. Attached is the agenda for this meeting.

1. Approval of Minutes
a. 08/16/16
2. Report – Update on Special Education Complaint & State Department of Education report
3. Report – iReady; Are we?
a. Kindergarten implementation
b. SLO development
4. Report – MyON, Advantages, Accessibility, Utilization
5. Report – Disseminate and review of data on Expulsions for SY 15-16, assorted by School, Grade, Gender, Ethnicity
6. Report – Fairchild Wheeler IT absence rate for SY 15-16
7. Report – Chronic absenteeism for “unique student populations” and discussion of solutions in place to alleviate this continuing problem
8. Report – Status on parent Sokolovic’s concern with Park City Magnet School (see email exchanges of 8/17 and 8/25)
9. Discussion and Possible Approval – St. Vincent’s Career and College Partnership
10. Discussion – Policy regarding WiFi use in schools and any proposed changes to existing policy
a. School owned devices
b. Public access
11. Discussion – Current Digital Learning Environment policy

Please notify the appropriate school personnel as per Board Policy 9124, including, but not limited to the following;

John McLoed
Giovana DeNitto
Dr. Melissa Jenkins
Michael Testani
Dr. Victor Black
Terese Maguire
Eric Haakonsen
Dr. Aresta Johnson
Dyrene Newton
Amy Marshall

(Please include this page with the notice and the agenda)

Bylaws of the Board 9124

Support Staff

The Superintendent’s office shall be responsible to the board and will provide support to the board for conducting necessary business.

This office shall be responsible for keeping accurate records of the proceedings of the board; and for the preservation of reports of committees and communications addressed to the board, reports of the chairperson, and reports from the superintendent.
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes
10-218 Officers.
10-224 Duties of secretary.
10-225 Salaries of secretary and attendance officers.

Ben Walker
Bridgeport Board of Education

Rabinowitz’s response to Walker:

On Oct 16, 2016, at 10:43 AM, Rabinowitz, Fran <> wrote:

Mr. Walker,
We will prepare all relevant information for you prior to the meeting on the 20th but my staff will not be at the meeting.
Fran Rabinowitz

From Fran Rabinowitz

Walker’s response to Rabinowitz:

On Oct 16, 2016, at 11:26 AM, Walker, Ben <> wrote:

Ms. Rabinowitz,

This action is in direct conflict with Bridgeport Board of Education Policy and is both insubordinate and hypocritical. The Teaching & Learning Committee has important work to do, work that directly affects all students and staff of the Bridgeport Public Schools. You have already made it clear that your own personal interests supersede the interests of the PBS with your early resignation. I urge you to not make it even more difficult on those who remain once you are gone. This decision of yours will have long lasting consequences and could set the BPS back a full year or more. If you ever truly cared about the students and staff in Bridgeport, you will rescind this decision, put your own agenda aside, and allow those of us who have the best interests of the future of the Bridgeport Public Schools in mind to do the work in front of us

To those staff members who may read this, Ms. Rabinowitz is not acting in the best interest of the Bridgeport Public Schools. Her actions are being driven by her hurt feelings and anger directed at one individual. She has already resigned and will no longer head our schools going into 2017. We will be left here to pick up the pieces. Do what is right.

Ben Walker
Bridgeport Board of Education

Rabinowitz’s response to Walker:

On Sunday, October 16, 2016 12:19 PM, “Rabinowitz, Fran” <> wrote:

Mr. Walker,
Kindly do not decide my motivation for any action and do not put my staff in the middle of this.
The minutes and pictures (empty chairs with pictures) in the Post from the last Finance Committee meeting indicate that many comments were made about the present state of the BOE.
My staff should not be subjected to that.

From Fran Rabinowitz



  1. The “STAFF” of the Bridgeport Public School System is not the property of Fran Rabinowitz. Rabinowitz does not pay their salaries. The BPS staff ultimately report to and work for the people of Bridgeport. Rabinowitz has clearly gone too far.

  2. Rabinowitz has the nerve to say we are placing her staff in the middle when it is she who is putting them in the middle. They will still be here long after she leaves.

    Rabinowitz is making $180,000 per year plus fringe benefits and every single staff member assigned to the Teaching & Learning Committee makes well over $100,000 per year.

    This is absolute insubordination.

  3. Ms. Pereira may call me a name because I use a handle here instead of my real name and I’m okay with that. But the truth of the matter is, Maria is 100% correct in EVERYTHING she says. She may not have the greatest execution but she definitely has the right intentions. Can’t say that about a lot of others. Maria, I honestly don’t like the way you get things done, but I am very thankful you get them done, you have the best interests of the Bridgeport Board of Education in mind and you help to execute them. I just wanted to say thank you!

    I know being a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education is not a popularity contest, but just like in the workplace, the person you like least is the person who usually does the most, and that person is Maria.

  4. This is absurd theater! I get people are working with hurt feelings, but everyone needs to grow up, be adults, be elected officials and do the peoples work. Elections have consequences so if you don’t like someone, make it count in November. Until then, STFU and get to work! Bradley and Rabinowitz are embarrassments to Bridgeport, and that is hard to do in the era of Finch/Ganim2!

  5. Just wish the BOE would be in the news for good reasons instead of this clown show some others are making it.

    There is a lot of good in the district but it is shadowed by the ones who think this is a stepping stone or a joke. A lot of people are making a lot of GOOD money off the backs of these children and they do NOTHING to earn it!

  6. Please reread this absurd quote:
    “Mr. Walker,
    Kindly do not decide my motivation for any action and do not put my staff in the middle of this.
    The minutes and pictures (empty chairs with pictures) in the Post from the last Finance Committee meeting indicate that many comments were made about the present state of the BOE.
    My staff should not be subjected to that.”

    This is a woman who wrote a page and a half resignation sent to the press and thousands of BOE employees where half the letter was spent attacking me.

    She attended a forum hosted by BCAC where spent time attacking me there as well.

    She then attended the monthly meeting of the Bridgeport Council of Administrative Supervisors and attacked me there.

    And she is worried about what BOE members stated at a Finance Committee Meeting in which only two members of the public were present.

    The pictures were of Rabinowitz, Bradley, Larcheveque, McSpirit and Negron. What does that have to do with her high-level staff members?

    Fran Rabinowitz is completely delusional.

  7. Please join us at 9:00am tomorrow, Tuesday, October 18, 2016 for a status conference on my lawsuit against Ganim to remove his illegal appointees. Superior Court located on Main Street on the sixth floor.

    Paul Ganim should be there because he filed an appearance on behalf of Negron.

  8. This has been a terrible chapter in this administration, orchestrated and egged on by Testa, ignored by Ganim, led by that hooligan Bradley, and shamefully stirring the pot is none other than the Superintendent of Schools Fran R. There is a silver lining, Fran R. will be gone by December, hopefully Bradley will be kicked out as Chair of the BOE, and by January, 2017, there will be hope.

  9. To be honest, I wasn’t completely convinced Fran Rabinowitz wasn’t a good fit for the Super’s position, until now. I had thought it was just Bridgeport politics subverting the efforts of a competent administrator/educator, the former situation indeed being a major factor in her functional difficulties. However, she is apparently a willing player in the administrative mayhem and displays an immature willingness to fully play into the subversive aspects of BBOE/Bridgeport politics. Her response to the request to provide relevant staff for the aforementioned meeting was insubordinate, spiteful, and displayed immature wrongheadedness. (And the schools are supposed to be teaching the kids how avoid confrontation and conflict and seek cooperative solutions to problems/disagreements!!!)

    Goodbye, Fran. That response to Ben Walker’s letter will not play well into your legacy. One would have thought you would have known better after such a long career in a highly politicized field. (How did you manage to stay in the game so long?! Well, like a lot of other career bureaucrats, administrators and politicians, you met your Waterloo in Bridgeport.)

  10. The acting superintendent is wrong. First, it is not her (“my”) staff. Second, both the Board of Education and its committees are entitled to staff support.

  11. I just left the Superior Court regarding Pereira vs Ganim.

    Paul Ganim showed up quite late to represent Ms. Negron and indicated to Judge Bellis he “had received a call requesting he represent Fonseca, but he had not spoken to Fonseca.”

    Bellis asked if Negron had resigned and Paul Ganim stated she was initially upset she was being sued for volunteering her time, however she was fine now and had no intention of resigning. Cry me a river.

    Although the state of CT had filed documents stating they had no intention of appearing based on some technicality; Bellis made it clear that was not acceptable and they were expected to appear.

    Bellis asked when was Fonseca required to file an appearance, but made it clear it really made no difference because whatever the decision was regarding Negron, it would be applicable to Fonseca.

    She announced she had already been conducting her research on the matter and this case could not continue on and on and needed to be adjudicated asap.

    She asked where all parties were on the Stipulation of Facts. My attorney announced he and Levin had already started working on them and now that Ganim was in they could finalize the Stipulation of Facts within a couple of days.

    Bellis made it clear were not needed, however those attorneys who wanted to file a brief had until 5:00pm this Friday so she could review them over the weekend.

    She wanted to hold a hearing at 2:00pm on Friday; Associate City Attorney Levin said he could not make it, therefore the hearing is set for 2:00pm on Monday, October 24, 2016 which is the day of our next regular meeting.

    She indicated she will be ruling from the bench. I believe we will have her ruling on Monday.

    My honest opinion is she has researched the relevant statutes, City Charter and case law, therefore she knows exactly where she is going with this.

    I just hope she sides with us regarding both Fonseca and Negron being appointed illegally, therefore they would be removed immediately.

    Crossing my fingers. 🙂

    1. I have great confidence that POS back-stabbing Ganim will lose this matter and you along with the people who do what is in the best interest of the kids, teachers, communities and their education will prevail.

      Thanks again.

  12. Hypothetical question here. Let’s say Ganim loses (which he should) and the two illegal board members are removed. That leaves a total of six Board members.

    Let’s say after they lose the decision in court Bradley and Larcheveque resign. That leaves the Fab 4. That’s not enough for a quorum. What happens then?

  13. A quorum is decided based on the number of current members. In other words, vacancies do not impact a quorum.

    If there are six members a quorum is four. If there are only four members a quorum is three.

  14. Mayor Ganim needs to tell the Superintendent as long as your salary is being paid by the residents of Bridgeport you will have your subordinates at these meeting or submit your resignation right now. How dare she not do the job she’s paid to do?

    1. Donald, just weighing in on the reality of City fiscal matters. And updating you on such reality. The Bridgeport School System depends on a variety of revenue sources to cover its expenses each year. If we ignore capital spending for new school buildings or renovation of older properties where the State is currently paying around 80% of the cost and the City borrows the other 20%, we can focus on the operating budget. State and Federal grants in addition to the basic operating budget allow the District to do more than certain basics, but this year the basics were not covered when $15.1 Million of normal expenses were ignored by G2 and the CC and the City funded about $900,000 fewer than the previous year. Of the $227,578,914 operating budget, the State ECS grant provided $163,457,041 ($700,000 less than last year) and the City supports the difference with taxpayer funds. So it would appear the taxpayers of Bridgeport (with respect to property taxes that support the operating budget rather than State Income taxes that support another unbalanced scheme) are only paying 28% of the operating cost. Does that make a difference, Donald? According to OIB articles, more than one person in this drama has visited Hartford on one or more occasions and we may assume they know our story. Are they afraid to be involved for one or more reasons, even when they consider the responsibility of the State BOE and the dollars provided in State funding? If they want results, and don’t we all, why don’t they mandate the results they wish, guarantee funding for enough time to make the changes necessary to secure such results, and get on with it? How many programs are still in play, how many rules still followed, how many people employed in education and dollars funded for them in salary and benefits that have nothing to do with current objectives? Why? The status quo will rule if/when a community stops monitoring what outcomes happen from resources committed. Isn’t this what has happened under a silent DTC? Kids lose and unworthy win? Until the public becomes disgusted? Time will tell.

  15. I am really curious as to how Chair Dennis Bradley has been able to cancel regular full meetings of the BOE and start scheduling “Special Meetings” at his whim. Something is wrong here. Do BOE/State laws give the chair of a local BOE the power and authority to cancel/schedule meetings at their own whim?

    1. Per BOE Bylaw 9321 the chair can call a special meeting with 24 hours notice. Which means he has until 4pm the business day prior to call a special meeting. This is based on the town clerk’s hours.

  16. Dennis Bradley has ZERO authority to cancel regular meetings because they are set by the “public agency” not an individual per state statute. The dates were voted on unanimously in December 2015, therefore neither he or any other BOE member can circumvent a vote of the full board.


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