Lots of questions, not so many answers until now. Board of Education member Joe Sokolovic has assembled details regarding former Superintendent of Schools Michael Testani’s separation of service. Testani left Bridgeport for the Fairfield district.
“All information,” Sokolovic shares was “gathered from public documents not subject to executive session.”
A school board meeting scheduled to address these issues was canceled Monday night due to a lack of quorum.
Alyshia Perrin is serving as interim school leader.
The nine-member school board is currently one person short following last week’s resignation of John Weldon.
A contract was entered into between the Bridgeport Board of Education and Michael J. Testani on 7/13/22 (retroactive from 7/1/22) and effective through June 30, 2025. This Contract has never been amended and all terms and conditions remain in effect today 11/21/2022.
On August 24, 2022, in accordance with his contract, Superintendent Testani submitted his 90-day notice notifying the board of his resignation to be in effect on November 23, 2022.
As of today, November 21, 2022, Michael J. Testani is still under contract and an employee of Bridgeport Public Schools.
The superintendent of schools yearly salary for the 22/23 compensation is a base salary of $275,000 with an additional $5,000 contribution to his annuity fund. A total of $280,000 per year or $1,076 dollars per diem for 260 days.
The current contract provides the superintendent with twenty vacation days and the possibility of 5 days to be carried over into the next year. (Carryover of 5 days consistent with previous contract requiring notifying the board of the intent to carry over said days.)
There does not appear to be any written notification to the board of any intention to carry over any days from the 21/22 school year.
As per the contract vacation for partial years shall be prorated.
Michael J. Testani is and has been employed by Fairfield Public Schools since November 1, 2022, while still under contract with Bridgeport Public Schools.
July 1 through October 31 is four months or 1/3 of a year. 1/3 of 20 is 7 (rounded)
July 1 through November 23, 2022, is about 5/12 of a year. 5/12 of 20 is 8 (rounded)
Superintendent Testani mentioned taking a vacation out of the country during contract negotiations.
The Supt. was required to inform the Chair (John Weldon) of vacation time being used. It is unclear how many of his 7 or 8 prorated vacation days were used as the board still has not been given that information as requested weeks ago. It is assumed he used 10 days and went over his 8-day allotment.
On October 24th, 2022, at a public meeting Ana Batista mentioned that it was Superintendent’s last week as Bridgeport superintendent. This took many of the board members by surprise.
Testani was questioned about his departure date by Board Member Baptiste-Perez at the same public board meeting and Testani’s response was he would be using about 2 weeks vacation time. I questioned whether his vacation time was properly prorated and if he did in fact have enough vacation time to utilize. Testani responded he had “carryover from the prior year.” I noted that I did not recall we as a board granting permission to carry over a week (contract states board must be notified in writing of supt. intent to carry over vacation days). Even if such a request in writing is found, Testani at best is left with a total of 13 days as of July 1, before his trip out of the country.
Superintendent’s contract provides for four personal days per annum with no carryover provision. Personal days are irrelevant to this conversation as the contract states explicitly that PERSONAL days are to be used for pressing PERSONAL business that cannot be done outside the school day. Working for another school district while under contract with BPS certainly does not qualify.
On October 24, I sent an email requesting information on Testani’s vacation to the entire board including the chairmen (John Weldon the only board member privy to Testani’s vacation balance and usage), no response to date.
Another board member sent another email requesting some of the same information and more on October 27th and included the legal team and personnel on the thread, no answer to date.
On October 29th, 2022, I requested John Weldon schedule a special meeting to produce documents and possible action related to Testani’s separation of service. Albert Benejan-Grajales and Christine Babtiste-Perez also signed off on this request which triggered a mandatory deadline of 14 days in which John Weldon had to call said special meeting. Ex-Chairmen Weldon resigned two days prior to the deadline and never scheduled the meeting as requested.
At the special meeting in my capacity as an elected official representing the best interests of the Bridgeport taxpayers, students, and voters I will seek public answers to the following questions:
1. How many vacation days was supt Testani entitled to and why?
2. If it is claimed that Testani carried over 5 days from the 21/22 school year provide documentation that this was requested in writing to the entire board prior to July 1, 2022.
3. How many vacation days were used by Supt. Testani from July 1, 2022, to present?
4. What is the pay status for superintendent Testani from July 1, 2022, to present? Please provide detailed breakdown.
5. If in fact as I suspect Testani has been overpaid, will the board seek compensation, on behalf of the taxpayer, at the daily rate of any overage?
6. Since Supt Testani has been employed by Fairfield Public Schools since November 1,2022 and has been quoted in the CT Post as “Making a clean Break from Bridgeport Public Schools, Effective October 31, 2022” well before the 90-day period elapsed, is that yet another material breach of contract?
7. Since the Contract was never amended, and Testani was never given permission to be off work, should Superintendent Testani be considered AWOL?
8. Since Superintendent Testani should have been on the payroll an additional three weeks past Oct 31 and the board lost the opportunity to have an adequate transition with his successor can the board seek monetary damages?