Joe Larcheveque New School Board Chair, Meeting Boycotts End

Ganim, Larcheveque
Mayor Joe Ganim, who chaired organizational meeting, congratulates Joe Larcheveque, standing right.

UPDATE: videos from Megan DeSombre, Education Connecticut. In a surprise move transformed as the organizational meeting took its course, the Board of Education Monday night unanimously elected Republican Joe Larcheveque as chair, replacing Democrat Dennis Bradley who had sought another year as leader but pulled out when the votes evaporated. Bradley had dubiously boycotted regularly scheduled meetings demanding board member Maria Pereira’s resignation. All nine members, including Bradley, voted for the genial Larcheveque who was praised as someone who could bring the divided board together. Larcheveque pledged to end the boycott.

Bradley entered the meeting confident he had the five votes required for another year as leader. Bradley had factored Larcheveque as one of his five votes. A minority coalition on the board derailed Bradley’s plans beseeching Larcheveque to accept the nomination as chair even though he had not expected his name to be entered. Basically they told Larcheveque whether you like it or not we’re nominating you.

Mayor Joe Ganim, per City Charter, chaired the organizational meeting to approve a chair. It started when the professorial board member Howard Gardner entered Larcheveque’s name asserting he’d move the board in the right direction. Board member Ben Walker, a music teacher in Greenwich, followed up imploring Larcheveque to take the helm. It appeared to surprise Bradley who began whispering in Larcheveque’s ear. Pereira, the technical fury, immediately jumped in, declaring Bradley’s whispering violated meeting decorum. Walker declared Larcheveque’s “experience indispensable … He’s a man of stand-up integrity.” He urged Larcheveque to lead.

Larcheveque appeared flummoxed.

The quick math showed the coalition of Gardner, Walker, Pereira and Sauda Baraka was enough for Larcheveque to prevail including his own vote. Board member Rafael Fonseca entered Bradley’s name into nomination. But it was a ballgame. Larcheveque had the five votes. Bradley reversed course realizing the votes had escaped him. When the votes were tabulated all nine votes were for Larcheveque, which hasn’t occurred for a chair in a long time. Baraka was named vice chair and newcomer John Weldon, a Republican appointed by Ganim, was named secretary over incumbent Walker.

cramped crowd
Tight quarters in small room for meeting.

“It’s an extremely difficult time for all of us,” said Larcheveque, accepting the chairmanship. “It’s important we come together … The goal has to be the same, to move forward for the children. Our voices need to be heard in Hartford, in the mayor’s office, with the City Council and all neighborhoods … Please, we will come together.”

The night did not come together early for Bradley who was castigated during the public speaking portion of the meeting. Education advocate Cynthia Infante criticized Bradley for calling the organizational meeting in a cramped room on the third floor of City Hall. About 50 members of the public squeezed in. A handful of others craned their necks in the hallway. Parent advocate Tammy Boyle called Bradley an “embarrassment.” Another, JoAnn Kennedy declared “Your soul will answer to God.” Karen Jackson, active in education issues for years, called Bradley “soulless.”

Harsh words yes, but they stemmed from Bradley’s insistence to boycott regular meetings until Pereira resigns. That strategy failed. You’re elected to serve, right? Public speakers blasted Bradley for the boycott, shutting them out, in furtherance of his own political gain. Bradley listened and took the criticism.

Ganim praised the service of acting school chief Fran Rabinowitz who’s leaving at the end of month. She had previously announced her resignation because she could not deal with Pereira who she declared was on a “negative crusade” to undermine school progress. But Rabinowitz is bailing and Pereira remains.



  1. Rafael Fonseca really got played by Bradley in supporting Bradley and not knowing what was best for the BOE and also not knowing who was a winnable candidate. Dennis Bradley the so-called new wonder candidate for mayor again took a big hit by showing he can’t put a coalition together to influence people and to win, instead he’s showing he’s a loser.

  2. Poor guy looked shellshocked. First time in a while I left a board meeting in a good mood. Maybe with a new chair as well as a new superintendent the board could get on with the business of our kids.

  3. The Democratic Party in Bridgeport needs new leadership, we can thank Ganim, Testa and Roach for their hand-picked Chairman for the BBoE who fell flat on his flucking face, and at the same time they held our kids hostage by not moving the BBoE forward for an entire year.
    This hand-picked bumbling jackass (half-a-lawyer) made the entire city look bad, so Mister Bradley if you want to give the best Christmas gift to our 21,000 school children, RESIGN!!!

  4. Joe Larcheveque did not know we were going to nominate him and he was clearly taken off-guard. When Howard told Joe he had all four of our votes you could see the panic that came over his face. He was sitting next to Joe and started vehemently whispering in his ear. The FOIA requires all comments made by members to be loud enough to be heard by the public. Even text, note, email, etc. written while a meeting is in progress is part of the proceeding and can be part of an FOIA request. I called him out on it.

    Ganim asked if there were any other nominations. Fonseca nominated Bradley. Ganim asked if there was a second. All you heard was pure silence, however a nomination does not require a second. Dennis could see he did not have the votes and withdrew his nomination. All nine of us voted for Larcheveque. That is the first time a chair was elected unanimously in a decade.

    In the end, Dennis Bradley got exactly what he deserved. He betrayed Howard, Sauda, Ben and myself one year ago. What goes around comes around. I think the person who showed the most courage was Annette Negron. Weldon lives in Black Rock, ran with Joe, and they have a different relationship. Negron does not have that same level of a relationship, however Weldon and Negron are Republicans who voted for their Republican colleague.

    We have a new interim superintendent who was unanimously elected by the board. And now we have both a chair and VP elected unanimously.

    I publicly committed to support and work with Joe, however he must conduct himself ethically, honestly, not try to marginalize us, and he MUST comply with all relevant statutes, board policy, the FOIA and Robert’s Rules of Order. This is non-negotiable.

  5. Joe Ganim looked terrible. His hair was styled like a 70-year-old man.

    I called a point of order and he kept speaking. I called it again and he kept talking. I reminded him a point of order takes precedence over all other matters.

    I read a well-prepared point of order referencing specific state statutes, several board policies, etc.

    I asked for a ruling on whether the meeting was legal because Bradley’s term as Chair expired at midnight on November 30th and only the “chair” can call a special meeting or three members can file a request and call it 14 days after the request is filed. The meeting notice was not filed until December 7th and Bradley signed it as “chairperson,” which was false.

    Ganim ruled it was legal, therefore I appealed the ruling of the chair. It was seconded. He didn’t know what to do. He requested someone make a motion to move the question to end debate, which was done. Sauda requested a roll call vote. It was 5 to 4, and Ganim called debate closed. Our mayor didn’t know a motion to end debate requires a two-thirds vote. I let him know the motion failed. He stated he was moving forward with the agenda and I called him on the carpet. Our mayor is so clueless he didn’t know when a ruling of the chair is appealed; only the members can vote on the appeal. The chair cannot rule on his own appeal.

    There was a dedicated parent at the podium waiting to speak, therefore I let it drop. I just needed to get our protest on the legality of the meeting on the record before the election in case we needed to proceed with any further action.

    After Howard and Ben nominate Joe, I asked to speak on the nomination and Ganim told me the nomination was made, therefore I could not speak on it. Any member can speak in favor or in opposition to a nomination. For instance Trump’s nominees will be vetted by our Congress/Senate.

    When Ganim was nominated at the DTC convention in 2015, Ralph Ford, Steve Nelson, and Scott Hughes each went to the podium to speak in favor of his nomination. He didn’t object then.

    Ganim was completely unprepared to handle parliamentarian inquiries. The reason is he has a rubber-stamp council.

  6. A supporter counted the number of people in tiny room 305. There were 73 people in it with people overflowing into the hallway.

    The room was clearly over capacity and out of compliance with the maximum number of persons allowed. Dennis scheduled the meeting in Room 305 to discourage and limit public participation, as that was more important than public safety.

    1. Joe is a family man with kids in the school system. At least one of his children attends Black Rock School, maybe two? The most important thing here is the fact hopefully he will not let politics overrule his obligation to the kids. Well played Maria, well played BOE. Good job.

  7. Strategy requires a goal, you must be prepared to handle the moving parts as you proceed to accomplish the goal. This time the goal was to replace Bradley, and it worked, plain and simple. The element of surprise played a big part in this move, and in my opinion, the BOE should now move on and fulfill its responsibility to the City’s children. Perseverance, along with willing participants works all the time. May I add, Bradley made this one easy to pull off while Ganim knew something bigger was in the works.

    1. Lisa, once again well stated. You said, “May I add, Bradley made this one easy to pull off while Ganim knew something bigger was in the works,” and it’s easy to see Bradley didn’t understand what Ganim did, that something bigger was in the works and also Rafael Fonseca looked like a fool and he’s just starting as a BOE member.

      Once again Lisa you got it right with, “in my opinion, the BOE should now move on and fulfill its responsibility to the City’s children,” that has been totally lost and in fact if anyone follows what Maria Pereira posts on OIB has nothing to do with the education and responsibility to the City’s children. Lisa, yes we must move on for the City’s children.

  8. Over/Under on when Maria is posting here how Joe Larcheveque is “clueless?” I’m going with about six weeks or so. And does anyone else care that Joe’s hair was styled like a “70-year-old man?” What does that mean anyway???

  9. I may be wrong and apologize if I am, but I believe under Robert’s Rules of order the person debating an issue is not allowed to READ ANYTHING OTHER THAN THEIR OWN PREPARED STATEMENT.

  10. 21,000 school kids approximately in the Public School system. I agree, the BOE needs to focus on Mission, Goals, Objectives and very, very importantly the money (and other resources) to get the job done with ACCOUNTABILITY. All stakeholders are called to be accountable. Youth for showing up on time ready to dig into learning, with plenty of rest the night before, and food to keep their engines working. Teachers to set the tone in each class, creating ways to make learning effective and using time well. Administrators for doing the multitude of things on their plate through well-developed relationships with the “less visible” staff of specials, volunteers, plant mechanics and cleaners, as well as kitchen personnel. Finally, when parents do their things well at home and see the youth safely to school and home, the community should be able to count on creating lifetime learners, without multiple excuses for other stakeholders not performing. And if the BOE sees progress, share it with the public. And if, as watchdogs, they see danger, alert the public. That would be progress. And finally, perhaps the Mayor’s office and City Council, especially the CC, might become engaged in providing resources.
    James Holloway, City employee and Council man, reigns over the School Building committee but does not like the public to comment or question issues before that group. Why? And where are the rules that govern that body, which is not a City Council subcommittee? And when does Mr. Holloway report, orally or in written form, with any regularity to the City Council on the progress of that group? Is that a reasonable approach when that body is spending upwards of $800 Million City-borrowing and State-granted funds over the last 10 years? What’s up with that, Doc? Some word on OIB that he may not run for another term. Would the City learn any less than it does now if someone else were to take on those duties? Time will tell.

  11. Well, the outcome of the BOE War of 2016 is a surprising year-end peacemaking deal that involves capitulating some control to a well-liked member of the opposition party.

    The Democrat in me regrets the outcome; the public-schools advocate in me worries about the outcome. The reformer in me wonders if this move opens more doors to charter schools, and–if so–is that so bad?

    The optimist in me says we won peace in our time and did so by letting the system fix itself. I pray for a new superintendent and a new beginning and a new hope in 2017. (Folks, on the national level we had better pray that our local example of trusting the system to fix itself carries over to Capitol Hill, but that’s certainly a whole other topic!)

    I broke into this BOE discussion once, to comment on the use of parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order (which I presume, but do not know to be, the expressly adopted or statutorily or ordinance-proscribed rules of procedure for the Board of Education). I made a point and also had … well, if I did not have my head handed to me, then at least I suffered a cut to the jugular.

    Nonetheless, I return to a larger point: Bridgeport elected officials and perhaps even non-elected civic leaders could well use a brush-up or refresher course in how Robert’s Rules of Order work.

    The rules are not arcane; they are not illogical; they are not difficult. They require a bit of study from a small handbook, and occasionally a reference to a table easily available on Wikipedia or other sites showing the order of precedence and procedure for handling different motions and other procedural actions and requests.

    Better procedure makes us all more powerful. Those of us in office as well as those of us who stand before office-holders can advance our ideas better when we know how to do it within the rules we have all agreed to–but which we nevertheless fail to agree on when push comes to shove in the heat of a moment. Rules of procedure make us better actors in church meetings, union meetings, party meetings–any place where we gather to do business in a group setting. It’s not just about civil governance; it’s often about governance in other groups to which we belong.

    My recommendation: UB or Housatonic would make a great gift to Bridgeport (and to surrounding towns as well) if one of the institutions would offer a course in Robert’s Rules. We should allow any elected official taking the course to charge its expense to the city. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine UB or HCC offering the course for free to citizens–but perhaps a reduced rate for a course that might require all of three or four evening or weekend sessions?

    It’s not hard to imagine that if the course were offered, folks from neighboring towns might sign up as well. All the better, then.

    Rules of procedure tell us how to relate to each other and how to advance ideas in the forums of our groups. Rules of procedure can most often be a balm for pointless argument; sometimes rules of procedure can be wielded like a sword to make surprising advances in action. Rules of procedure give us power to make things happen. But if we don’t understand how to use rules or if we don’t respect the right of others to use the rules, our power is diminished. That’s not good for Bridgeport’s future.

    An orderly government is a component of effective government. Rules provide for inclusion. Rules used badly lead to exclusion. My long-held belief is the politics of exclusion lead to the politics of defeat. There are so many ways to lose, and only a few ways to win. Let’s make shared community-wide understanding of rules and agreement on procedure part of why Bridgeport wins.

    1. Doug, well stated. I was a member of an all-black-male organization and when it started the position of Parliamentarian was open and a retired judge’s name was put into nomination with no one else running for that position. The Judge said he would take the position but said if we had to go to Robert’s Rules of Order or any other system to run a meeting would mean we were not serious about our goals and objectives because nothing should have to go that far and we should act like men.


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