Half The School Board Meets Amidst A Contentious Body

school board dim
At one point the lights dimmed. Photo: Christian Abraham, Hearst Connecticut Media.

Four Board of Education members conducted a meeting Tuesday night at Geraldine Johnson School claiming they had a representative quorum because they don’t acknowledge two members appointed by Mayor Joe Ganim to fill vacancies. Board Chair Dennis Bradley, in conflict with the four members, had cancelled the meeting asserting police could be called to remove them from school grounds. The meeting took place, police showed up, no one was arrested, the lights went dark at one point in this surreal control for school policy. Does the meeting have legal standing? A state judge may need to sort this out. Board member Maria Pereira shares her observations about what took place. CT Post take here.

We had our meeting after gaining access to the school because an employee exited the building and we slipped in with about 20-25 members of the public.

We entered the normal meeting space and sat there peacefully until Sauda Baraka arrived. While we were sitting there the custodian shut off all the lights except the stage lights which were on a timer. Then he locked the bathrooms and claimed as the Head Custodian he did not have the keys. We were holding a peaceful meeting when three patrol cars showed up with six police officers including Lieutenant Ivanko who demanded that both Ben Walker and I step into the hallway to speak with him. All six officers swarmed the BOE Meeting at approximately 8:30pm. I explained we were elected BOE members, we showed him our BOE IDs, and gave him copies of the CT state statutes that make it clear that the “local school board” controls all public school buildings and grounds, not the Interim-Superintendent or a member of her staff. He directed Ben and me to step into the hall and I stated he could speak to me in front of everyone right where we were. He ordered me into the hall and I asked everyone to join us in the hallway and to videotape the entire segment.

Ben and I were speaking and he said I had an attitude. I said I am a legal member of the school board elected by over 10,000 Bridgeport voters who has an absolute right to be in a school building, yet you think I have an attitude. A young, white, bald cop said “who gives a piddly?” I responded the voters of Bridgeport do. This is exactly why so many people despise police officers. They are arrogant jerks.

As two Bridgeport parents and a member of the public stepped into the hall to record the exchange with Ben and myself and the police officers, Lieutenant/Sargent Ivanko ordered them back into the cafetorium, which is a violation of federal/state law. Any member of the public can tape police officers as long as they do not interfere in the work of the police. These parents were 8 to 10 ft away from Ben, myself, and officer Ivanko.

Tammy Boyle handed my phone to Sauda Baraka to continue recording and everyone went back into the cafetorium. Meanwhile Sauda is standing on one foot on a crutch trying to record the interaction with the police.

Michael Giannotti approached officer Vanko and exchanged words with him. We held our entire meeting and adjourned.

As I exited into the lobby the tall, white, bald police officer wanted to be a prick and asked me for my name, DOB, and address. I asked him what law I violated which required me to give him the information? He reiterated he wanted my name, address, and DOB. I held up my BOE ID Badge and he copied my name. I gave him my address and DOB. I gave him my address and he asked me if it was in Bridgeport. I explained I couldn’t be an elected school board member if I didn’t reside in Bridgeport. I asked him if he was a resident of Bridgeport and he appeared agitated and did not respond.

We then exited and took footage of three patrol cars in front of Geraldine Johnson.

I recorded myself stating we have murders, shootings, stabbings, rapes, drug dealing, etc. happening throughout Bridgeport and the best use of six police officers on the taxpayers’ dime is to harass elected school board members at a peaceful meeting of the Board.

The members of the public who spoke were so complimentary of our showing courage and doing the work on behalf or 21,000 students. Fran Rabinowitz, Dennis Bradley, Joe Larcheveque, Annette Segarra-Negron and Raphael Fonseca were ripped apart for failing to fulfill their obligations under state law.

Channel 12 News found out the police were there and came back. The video guy got in, but Ivanko told the reporter she was “not allowed in the building” and escorted her out of the building.

This was just completely outrageous.



  1. Mayor Ganim and Acting Chief of Police Perez keep yelling from the mountain tops they are short police officers, yet sending six police officers on an evening shift to a peaceful BBOE meeting held at Geraldine Johnson School was of the highest priority.

  2. The reporting by the CT Post is so poor I don’t even know where to start. Linda Lambeck and Brian Lockhart were not even present, which is obvious in their completely inaccurate story.

    When the six police officers arrived we “recessed” the meeting as they attempted to harass both Ben Walker and myself. We reconvened the meeting and completed every item on the agenda at our pace and did not rush in any way. We adjourned when we were done.

    The “Fabulous Four” outsmarted Mayor Ganim, Testa, Bradley, Larcheveque, Rabinowitz, City Attorney Chris Meyers and Mark Anastasi AGAIN!

    They aren’t the brightest bulbs. 🙂

  3. I warned Ben Walker and others about Raphael Fonseca. I told him he will do exactly as told. Mayor Ganim was clearly involved in this or the City Attorney’s office would have not tried to intercede with a laughable legal opinion.

    Every time the City Attorney sends us an unsolicited legal opinion we just crack up. The City Attorney has NO authority over the school board and we could care less.

    1. I am sooo f***ing sick and tired of these handles. Who appoved SeaYoung??? SeaYoung is nothing but a waste of time. I WANT TO BE A HANDLE, so I can say any and all worthless comments and NO ONE will know my name.

      1. Frank, SeaYoung is Claude Young who is not a Bridgeport resident. I believe he currently resides in Stamford and has also resided in Stratford. He uses a completely different handle on the CT Post.

  4. Coward, you have a serious issue with proper capitalization. Are you aware we offer free adult education programs? Please look into it at your earliest convenience.

  5. There is a Faith Act$ for Education (Charter $schools) parent speaking about BOE members bickering and how we should meet at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks (not kidding), yet she confronted another parent in the Parent Center over a personal matter that caused them to be nose to nose and parents had to pull them apart so it did not escalate into a fist fight.

    This is what is defined as pure hypocrisy.

  6. Just one more thing before I go to sleep.

    The custodian told us Bobby Hammond directed him to call the police although when members of the public asked the police who called them they stated they received an “anonymous” call. They can’t even get their stories straight.

    Bobby Hammond, you once told me “I never want to be on your bad side.” I want to be absolutely clear, you have been placed on my official list I keep in my top right-hand drawer.

    It’s the same list with Anthony Paoletto, Nessah Smith, the Fonsecas, Joe Ganim, etc. if that helps you determine in any way what type of list it is.

  7. I was also in attendance and would like to say the board did an admirable job under difficult circumstances. I would expect no less. What made me most proud however was the three students in attendance. I would like to point out the two student representatives from Central HS and a public speaker, a junior from Bassick gave their reports IN THE DARK because a so-called grownup cut the power! These students were quite articulate and unflappable in the most dire of circumstances.

    Of particular note was the young lady from Bassick. She spoke of the dampening of expectations amongst her peers. How all that was expected was a (2.5?) GPA. She spoke of going to a meeting with another school where the students were polled about school fights and the other HS students reported as seeing less than one fight per year whereas Bassick students had their hands up after seven or more. She went on to relay upon returning how her fellow students were arrested for fighting, the general apathy of staff and students.

    I generally fear for this generation of children but these three were shining examples of what is possible if you rise up and demand excellence from yourself under any circumstances. These young adults behaved bravely and we should all be proud of them. So next time could Fran Rabinowitz and the absentee board members at least show these students the respect of showing up to hear them speak and if they cannot do so at least arrange to leave the lights on so they can be seen as well as heard?

  8. I believe Ms. Rabinowitz could not be present for religious reasons. Yom Kippur is the holiest of holies in the Jewish religion. Frankly, I thought it was quite insensitive to even be holding a meeting on the start of this atonement 24-hour period.

    Perhaps the Board collectively should be atoning and start with a clean slate. Then, maybe our children might be able to proceed into their future Book of Life!

        1. I speak from personal experience, not from blog posts. The woman is an obstructionist. Rather bury a problem than deal with it head on. She lies blatantly, again personal experience not blog-related information. Real life with real people.

    1. Ripper, if that is your real name, it was Ms. Rabinowitz and her staff who chose the dates for the regular Board of Education meetings. This list was then presented to the BOE Secretary (Ben Walker–my real name) and he (a Christian–already sealed in the book) mentioned this conflict at that time. The BOE Secretary was told it would be okay, so he presented the full year of dates to the Board as a whole for approval. Ms. Rabinowitz was in attendance at that meeting as well and voiced no objection to the date. These dates were approved unanimously and then filed with the city clerk and the Secretary of State. Please, do not preach to the BOE about things you know not of.

      The real insensitivity lays at the feet of Dennis Bradley (not sure if this is his real name), who scheduled a meeting for tonight! Ha!

      1. Mr. Walker–You sealed the deal. I’m happy you as a Christian are in the Book. I may be in Limbo but you and the whole Board need a conversion to practice what you preach.

        1. Grin Ripper, once again as someone who posts under a handle I would describe you as one of the “cowards” on OIB.

          In addition, we have attended every single meeting because we take our responsibilities seriously. We have upheld the oath we tool on behalf of over 21,000 students. I recommend you focus your remarks on Dennis Bradley and Joe Larcheveque. We could care less about Negron or Fonseca because they are not legitimate members of the Board.

          What happened to Fonseca’s original statement that he would attend all meetings because our kids deserve it?

          I know, it’s called pure rhetoric.

          He did EXACTLY as he was told to do. Ben, Sauda, Howard and myself don’t take orders from Testa, Ganim, Rabinowitz, Bradley; Fonseca, not so much.

          1. I’m a Noel Coward! You are a Bully and a Tool. I criticized not one individual but the Board as a whole. I loved the pictures of you and Fran on the front page the other day. 🙂

          2. Grin Ripper, a coward is a coward no matter how you may try to dress it up.

            I loved that picture!

        2. Grin Ripper, I do not know who you are but I must agree. I was shocked that the BOE had a meeting on the Holiest
          of the Jewish Holidays. But no surprise. The students are off from school on this holiday and have been for as long as I can remember. They have no idea how important this holiday is or what the holiday is about. That is pretty sad, to say the least. Growing up, I was taught the importance of my neighbors’ holidays. It was important to understand the community in which you live. I am used to people not acknowledging the holiday. I chalk it up to ignorance as I cannot think of any other way to describe it. I mean I do know we have an antisemitic on the board and I appreciate her position and I am not going to debate it. The BOE has serious problems and I am not so sure a State takeover would not be in the best interest of our city and of our children. This is not to be disrespectful to Maria and some of the other board members, it’s just clear they can not fight their way out of a paper bag to get anything positive passed.

          1. The state does not even force the city to meet it Minimum Budget Requirement. Yeah, handing control over to the state that has been found to severely underfund the city’s schools system is going to solve all the problems. Dream on.

          2. Steven,
            Reality check time: This isn’t NYC in the ’50s and ’60s.
            School systems. The days off for Jewish holy days were not instituted for the kids and school children were not taught about the holy days.
            Bridgeport, New Haven and other large cities started closing for these days in the 1960s because there were so many Jewish teachers and principals, it was impossible to cover the staff absences.

            If you want to address students not being taught about holidays in Bridgeport. Can anyone explain why this past Monday the City government, libraries, etc. were closed for Columbus Day, a Federal holiday and the Bpt Schools were closed for an imaginary holiday called Italian Heritage Day? Mixed message, PC nonsense.

        1. Tom Kelly, I have no idea why you would be using a handle but I consider you to be a man of integrity, therefore you have no need to hide.

          Tom, I also want to remind you I don’t believe you have attended a single BoE meeting in the seven years I’ve been involved in our true public schools.

  9. Reported Annual Crime In Bridgeport CT
    Reported   Bridgeport/100k  Connecticut/100k
    Total crime  3804 people      2031 people
    Reported   Bpt     CT
               7.4     3.3
               62.2    21.5
               369.4   80.5
               466.1   113.1
    Violent crime
               905     219
               763.8   280
               1624.9  1355.5
    Vehicle theft
               510.1   176.5
    Property crime
               2899    1812

    A general overview of all the annual reported crimes in Bridgeport, CT is displayed above. The data has been arranged to make it easier to find both the gross total of reported crimes and the number of crimes reported per 100,000 people in Bridgeport, CT. These statistics are further divided into two distinct categories (violent crimes and property crimes) to provide more insight to how prevalent crime is in the area. You’ll find that the rate of crime in Bridgeport, CT averages 87% higher than the rest of Connecticut while the rate of crime on a national scale is 33% higher than. You’ll find that the occurrence of violent crime in Bridgeport, CT is 314% higher than the average rate of crime in Connecticut and 143% higher than the rest of the nation. Similarly, crime involving property stands 60% higher than the remainder of the state of Connecticut and 17% higher than the nation’s average. Both of these statistics relate to how safe residents and businesses are while performing everyday activities in the Bridgeport, CT area.

    I would like to thank the Mayor and Police Department for keeping us safe from The BBoE Fab 4 Gang. I can finally sleep easy tonight, knowing my tax dollars are at work protecting us from those Menacing Hooligans (BBoE Fab 4 Gang).

  10. “This is exactly why so many people despise police officers. They are all arrogant jerks.” This is truly despicable language to be used by a member of the BOE. An apology is owed the entire BPD.

    1. Phil Blagys, I do want to apologize for that statement. Lennie asked me to send him a recap of what occurred and I wrote it late last night. I don’t like when people paint the “BOE” with a broad brush so I shouldn’t have painted all police officers with a broad brush.

      There were three BPD officers there last night who were incredibly rude, belligerent and arrogant. Two white male officers and a petite female who may have been Hispanic. The other three officers were quite calm and displayed no arrogance.

      There are many BPD officers I have dealt with who conduct themselves professionally and with integrity, however there are BPD officers who do not as demonstrated by three officers last night.

      There are several BPD officers I went to high school with who are all intelligent, articulate and brave professionals.

      I had to deal with another police department today and both the Sargent and police officer were so polite, professional, and helpful I plan on writing a letter to their police complimenting them. However, the officer who greeted me was arrogant and dismissive.

      I would like to apologize for portraying all officers as “arrogant jerks,” however if you are an arrogant jerk the apology does not apply. 🙂

  11. Wow. This whole thing is so pathetic. Sending three police cars out to disperse a meeting of the BOE.
    How embarrassing this should be for the city, for the Mayor, for the Chief of Police, for the Superintendent and the list goes on.
    And please don’t try to say none of them were aware of it.
    So pathetic.

  12. This BOE situation is disgusting. The people who were elected to the BOE are disgusting. Ben Walker, you are a sanctimonious individual. You and your band of four should be ashamed of yourselves. Bradley and his people should be ashamed of themselves also. Both groups should do the kids of Bridgeport a favor and resign. You haven’t accomplished anything in months.
    Walsh, stop stoking the fires. It does not take much to get these idiots going.

    1. I have to half-agree with Grumpy (Andy), this all has to stop. I now believe this situation is being stoked by the administration in order to initiate a State takeover. Hopefully on October 18th, the Court decision will determine if the two members stay or go. Whatever the outcome, a full complement should be established, start the search for a new Super, and get on with business. Most of you don’t remember G1 tried a State takeover, even had his potential Charter Commission members selected, and without going into details, I, as Council President, stopped it in committee and it never went anywhere. Finch picked up the gauntlet in his term, he got farther than Ganim, but failed nonetheless. Get it together guys, there’s more going on than you realize.

      1. Lisa, you said it all. Remember Beardsley Zoo, which is now operated by State. It wasn’t a takeover by the State, it was a giveaway. Joe Ganim will do what it takes to do away with things so the City doesn’t have to fund. Maria has her faults but they are nothing like what Mayor Finch and Mayor Ganim have done and it’s still going on, to basically destroy the Bridgeport Board of Education.

        1. Ron, to get the state monies we need to give the state something for the monies.
          It’s true the state technically owns the zoo and Beardsley Park. We maintain the land, we keep any revenues. The state does any major repairs, the state paid for and rebuilt the dam at Bunnells Pond.

  13. At this hour, there are 50 responses to this story about policy making elected adults and public schools in Bridgeport. There are less than a handful about the financial scene in the City at this same moment.

    Perhaps if more folks attempted to focus on the fiscal issues, as individual taxpayers must, we might make more progress discovering the truth, unmasking the perpetrators of phony stories and placing priorities front and center for all to monitor, since our watchdogs continue to sleep.

    You do not have to be an accountant to understand the BOE presented a normal budget without NEW and SPECIAL programs to the City for funding last spring. The Mayor ignored BOE needs. And the BOE and parents got so involved with the rules of the process and their own emotional burdens, we are where we are today.

    Meanwhile, if you will look at the August MFR (monthly financial report) you will see when you do the simple math accurately the “UNDERSTAFFED” Police Department was just acknowledged by the Finance Director Ken Flatto, with an increase of $7.5 Million. Follow the MONEY!!! The Police are the PRIORITY!!! Public safety negotiations were they looked into would leave us staggered by the expense of the last round, huge pension burden with overtime finally recognized, limits on what the City can recover from contractors for officers serving on EXTERNAL or EXTRA overtime (so as to protect the incomes of public safety officers).

    Who is protecting the taxpayer? Please start paying attention to the MONEY!!! When you have it, is your ATTITUDE better? When you are told lies and your financial obligations increase, does your ATTITUDE worsen? How many taxpayers earn OVERTIME? How many have pension plans? How many plans recognize OVERTIME earnings in retirement payouts? Follow the MONEY!!! Time will tell.

      1. Greg,
        I visit the City Clerk’s office at least once per month to get such a copy. Why not ask Ken Flatto why these reports are not carried on the public internet? No printing expense. And some Council persons receive their MFRs electronically. It is not OPEN or TRANSPARENT practice. Perhaps more than one person needs to share that with Ken Flatto. Call me at 203-259-9642 if you wish to review a recent MFR with me. Time will tell.

      2. The reports you reference are not monthly financial reports but rather the external annual audit that is named: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, otherwise known as CAFR (with an annual date following).
        Have you ever read through one? Very good overview of the City. Read a couple and even more becomes connected. Time will tell.

        1. John, the page I referenced has a drop-down menu to select a category. The Monthly Financial Reports section has but one file from February 2016. I will contact Ken to add another voice to this matter. Thanks.


Leave a Reply