Kadisha Coates, Charter School Mom, New School Board Member

Kadisha Coates
Kadisha Coates. CT Post photo Autumn Driscoll.

With all eight remaining Board of Education members in attendance, five of them Thursday night selected a charter school parent Kadisha Coates to fill the vacancy of the resigned John Bagley in a vote at the Aquaculture School.

Board members Ken Moales, Joe Larcheveque, David Hennessey, Andre Baker and Hernan Illingworth voted for Coates after hearing from five candidates for the position, all members of the Working Families Party, the line Bagley won for his school board seat.

Coates, 34, who has a child in a charter school, told the school board in an open interview session she wants Bridgeport students “To have the same opportunities as Greenwich.”

school board members
School board hears from candidates to fill Bagley’s slot.

She moved to Bridgeport 15 years ago looking for proper placement for her children. She said she had friends who moved from Bridgeport because of the school system and placed a child in a charter school.

When asked about her position on charter schools and vouchers, anathema to many public school advocates, she sidestepped adding “Our main focus should be to improve our schools.” Charter schools receive public funds but operate independently of traditional public schools.

Board members Sauda Baraka and Howard Gardner voted for Andrea Clarke, a paralegal and mother of two. Jacqui Kelleher voted for Greenwich school music teacher Ben Walker.

Coates herself will add her voice to two key upcoming votes, for the chairmanship of the school board currently occupied by Baraka, in December and filling the expected resignation of Baker in January who was elected to the State House last week.

CT Post scribe Linda Conner Lambeck has more here.



  1. This evening Dave Hennessey sold his soul to the devil. Tonight, both he and Andre Baker betrayed every Bridgeport Public School child, parent, teacher and staff member. This vote had absolutely nothing to do with what was best for the children, it had everything to do with doing what was best for Dave Hennessey and his personal aspirations.

    You see, Dave Hennessey made it clear he believed he should be Chair of the Bridgeport Board of Education after last year’s victory. Although I never witnessed him attend a BBOE meeting until he decided to run for the BBOE, he thought he should walk onto the BBOE on day one and become Chair. When his peers asked why he wanted to be the Chair, he stated “Because I make a better chief than I do an indian.” He also stated he is a natural born leader and not a “minion.” I guess all the BBOE members who served on the BBOE and were never the chair were just “minions.” In the end, Sauda obtained the support of all those in her coalition and Dave Hennessey was quite upset about it.

    Tonight was about backroom deals and a quid pro quo. Dave Hennessey and his buddy Joe Larcheveque agreed to vote for Kenneth Moales’ candidate, Kadisha Coates (charter school parent and advocate) and in turn Kenneth Moales and Hernan Illingworth will vote for Dave Hennessey for Chair during the annual December organizational meeting.

    After the meeting, I was informed Andre Baker had committed to vote for a different candidate and had betrayed those he gave his word to. In fact, he and Kenneth Moales arrived together and were late for the meeting.

    Kadisha Coates, a Families for Excellent Schools parent leader and affiliated with ConnCAN and recently featured in a series of parent exposes on Megan DeSombre’s Education Bridgeport! blog, entered the room with the wife of the former director of FUSE at Dunbar School. In the meantime, the former FUSE director from Dunbar School entered the meeting with Ruben Felipe who is part of Mayor Finch’s cabinet.

    My phone has not stopped ringing tonight about the incredible betrayal of Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey and every single person I spoke with is fired up and ready to work to make sure Dave Hennessey loses the chairmanship 12 months after he receives his crown.

    The only good thing about this travesty is the vast majority of the coalition is willing to come back together to defeat Mayor Finch, Kenneth Moales, Hernan Illingworth and Jacqueline Kelleher next November.

    And then it is on to 2017 where Dave Hennessey and Andre Baker are up to bat, that is if Andre Baker is still on the BBOE. My absolute commitment to Dave and Andre is I gave you a 4 to 1 victory at Thomas Hooker and I assure you, you will suffer a minimum of a 4 to 1 loss in 2017.

    1. Just heard from a reliable source Joe Larcheveque’s oldest son attends Park City Prep Charter School. Well there is a valuable nugget of information.

      Can anyone confirm this?

    2. NEWS FLASH: Over the last two days I have heard from credible sources Mayor Finch has been working to cut a deal for Joe Larcheveque to become the new chair of the BBOE. For those of you who do not know, Joe’s wife Ann Larcheveque was just elected to the Democratic Town Committee led by Danny Roach. Both Ann Larcheveque and Danny Roach are Finch loyalists.

      It will either be Larcheveque or Hennessey although Mayor Finch doesn’t like the idea of Dave Hennessey’s close ties to the teacher’s union.

      If Larcheveque becomes the new chair, Dave Hennessey sold his soul to become second fiddle (vice-president). How pathetic Dave Hennessey has shown himself to be.

  2. On a funny note, there was a very nice gentleman who interviewed who had been laid off from his job and he thought he was interviewing for a paid position.

    There was also an educator named Ben Walker. I had never seen him before, however he was incredibly articulate, knowledgeable and professional. He was clearly the most qualified candidate for the vacancy and spoke so eloquently.

    In my opinion, the second most qualified candidate was Andrea Clarke, She was the former president of the PTSO at Central High School and we served on the PTSO together briefly. I was a BBOE member and thought I could handle both responsibilities simultaneously, however I resigned before the end of the school year because I felt I was starting to neglect some of my BBOE duties and responsibilities. I hadn’t seen her since early 2010 until she attended a BBOE meeting last week. She wasn’t as knowledgeable as the 30-year educator, however she was fairly well informed and articulate.

    Kadisha Coates spoke well but offered no substantive responses, spoke in generalities and was in no way informed about the Bridgeport Public Schools. She had been coached not to make direct pro-charter school comments and tried to walk a tightrope.

    The great news is every single candidate up for re-election next year is part of the opposition, therefore we have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose.

  3. So Maria, but it really sounds like the WFP blew it. Secret deals, trading votes; that’s all part of Bridgeport politics and politics in general. It simply sounds like the opposition was prepared and you were not.

  4. Bob, as you are fully aware, I have no association with the WFP, therefore I “blew” nothing. I don’t know one thing about quid pro quos because my vote on the BBOE was never used as a bargaining chip or sold to the highest bidder. Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey would clearly be much more knowledgeable on this particular topic than I.

  5. The Bridgeport Board of Education is responsible for the school policies of the Bridgeport Public Schools, for advocating for the funds necessary to operate the schools, and for monitoring the results produced by the system that is led by the Superintendent they select. All of this serious adult activity is for the benefit of about 20,000 school-age youth who reside in Bridgeport.

    Yesterday the United Way held a gathering at Housatonic Community College to share STRIVE TOGETHER, a community wide assessment of where our city stands in the “cradle to career” delivery system. The entire focus of this meeting was on how collaboration stems from common concerns on the part of individuals, government structures, human service organizations and businesses to pursue of measurable outcomes at points along the couple decades from the birth of a new citizen to the employment of same in a position that serves the community, the worker’s financial needs, and provides respect from the community.

    I saw Fran Rabinowitz, a Diocese of Bridgeport representative on the part of parochial schools, and heard one comment from the audience about Charter Schools. I did not see or hear from Maria Pereira, Bob Walsh, or Ron Mackey though they may have been there observing this groundswell of support for working together for the youth of the community. Wouldn’t finding ways to work together with the scarce resources available be a novel approach for this City to pursue rather than the constant plotting and political gamesmanship revealed above? Who is talking about the kids today? Time will tell.

  6. Having elected leaders who want to serve their community because they truly care about the children and adults who make up our community is imperative. Having leaders who want to do good things because they truly care about those they serve versus those who seek power or wealth is nonnegotiable. I haven’t even left my home yet because of the amount of calls I have received about what Dave Hennessey and Andre Baker chose to do last night. The anger in the community is palpable. I have spoken with residents from the North End, East End, Black Rock, etc. and every one of them feel completely betrayed by these two dishonorable men. The good thing is every single person has committed to working on next year’s election and defeating Mayor Finch and his BBOE candidates. All but one agreed Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey must be removed from office in 2017. The one person who did not weigh in was so upset about what Andre and Dave did last night they couldn’t even talk about it and had to get off the phone. The language I have heard regarding these two individuals this morning has not been pretty.

  7. While trolling (no pun intended) the Internet, I came across this blog and wondered, what say you Maria?

    I guess former Working Families Party mouthpiece and Internet troll Maria Pereira is willing to sacrifice everything she and her former Working Families Party buddies hold dear, just to see incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy fail.

    Putting aside everything she’s ever publicly said, Pereira has decided to endorse GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.

    Yes, you read that right. According the New Haven Register’s blog Divided Connecticut, Pereira “endorsed” Foley. And here I was thinking that giving out endorsements was reserved for local town councils, respected news organizations and, you know, people who actually matter.

    Keep in mind, this is the same Tom Foley who said that “we don’t need an increase to improve the schools in Connecticut” because public schools get “plenty” of money; the very same candidate who asked “when is the Wisconsin moment going to come to Connecticut?” The same Tom Foley who flat-out said, we “need to get rid of tenure” during a 2010 debate.

    One has to wonder, what exactly Pereira is trying to accomplish with this endorsement?

    Sure she’s been vocal about her disdain for Governor Dannel P. Malloy, but she’s also been vocal about her stances on charter schools and unions–neither of which mesh well with Foley’s.

    I thought I’d seen everything this campaign season, but clearly I’ve underestimated local “rock star” Pereira’s thirst for personal vindication above all else–apparently even above her own self-professed convictions.


  8. Donald Day, what is your point? The NY Times wrote I was supporting Foley and the New Haven Register picked it up from the NY Times article and Musty Megan picked it up from the New Haven Register.

    I contacted the NY Times to correct the story and it was like navigating an obstacle course to get this addressed. The New Haven Register wouldn’t correct their article until the NY Times corrected theirs.

    I never endorsed Tom Foley. I never knocked on a single door for him, I did not make a single phone call and I did not work the polls for him.

    As I have repeatedly stated on this blog, I voted for Jonathan Pelto and Ebony Murphy as write-in candidates.

  9. Well Maria, for someone who has nothing to do with the BBOE and the WFP you seem to have a lot to say about backroom deals. So either you were in the backroom or you are spreading rumors.
    Which is it???

  10. Bob, please do share where I stated I have “nothing to do with the BBOE.” I attend more BBOE meetings than most of the BBOE members. Really, you think I was in the back room helping Dave Hennessey, Andre Baker, Kenneth Moales, Hernan Illingworth and Joe Larcheveque cut a deal? I am sure all the public comments I have made about the “Back Room Boys” supports that absurd assertion.

    Bob, why don’t you ask your dearest and closest political friends if I am telling the truth about Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey? I am willing to place a wager Dave Hennessey receives at a minimum Kadisha Coates, Kenneth Moales, Joe Larcheveque and Hernan Illingworth’s vote for BBOE chair at the first meeting in December. How much would you like to wager?

      1. Bob, do we have a bet? Remember, the bet is Dave Hennessey will receive a minimum of the following four votes: Kenneth Moales, Kadisha Coates, Joe Larcheveque and Hernan Illingworth.

          1. Bob, still waiting for your agreement to the $500 wager. If you are so confident I am wrong in my predictions this is an easy $500 in your pocket. Do we have a wager or not? For heaven’s sake. Getting your written agreement is like getting Jennifer Buchanan to post the email she claimed I sent to many legislators withdrawing my support of Jack Hennessy’s bill.

          2. Bob, I am increasing the proposed wager to $1000. Either Joe Larcheveque or Dave Hennessey as chair of the BBOE. Either way the votes locked in for the election at a minimum are Joe Larcheveque, Dave Hennessey, Hernan Illingworth, Kenneth Moales and Kadisha Coates.

            If you are not willing to accept the wager just say so, Bob.

  11. Maria
    The bottom line is nobody stole the presidency from Sauda. She gave it away. And she has no one to blame but herself.
    Don’t blame Andre, don’t blame Dave, blame Sauda. She had a fragile coalition and did not build on it. Did not strengthen it. She pretty much destroyed it.
    I do not know who decided the new Harding High School was worth risking it all but Sauda did and she lost. This is why she lost Baker and Bagley and therefore lost the BOE.

  12. Bob, Sauda and I have not always agreed, however she was never involved in a quid pro quo, not once. She is in her ninth year on the BBOE and has earned her stripes. The most tenured person after Sauda has served a little over three years.

    Kenneth Moales, Hernan Illingworth and Kadishs Coates will not be voting for Dave Hennessey because of his incredible leadership, knowledge or vision, they will be voting for him because of the “deal” that was cut. Dave Hennessey couldn’t get the votes without selling his soul, so let’s not pretend he has earned the chairmanship. He is bartering his way into the chairmanship. Sauda never betrayed those who supported her election or betrayed her core principles or values to become the Chair. Dave Hennessey will never be able to say that.

    Unlike you, I have witnessed Dave Hennessey at meetings and he knows almost nothing at all about the BBOE policies, FOIA, Roberts Rules of Order and that knowledge is imperative to being the Chair. Anyone who wants to be Chair because they seek power should never be the Chair. The only true role of the Chair is to set agendas, communicate and share information with all the members and conduct organized and efficient meetings. If you want to be Chair because you want to sit at the head of the table, or be recognized at luncheons and dinners, or have political power, you most definitely should not be Chair.

    Dave Hennessey betrayed the coalition before he ever took his oath of office, therefore this has nothing to do with what Sauda did or did not do to him.

    I assure you, you know absolutely nothing about why John Bagley resigned from the BBOE. I don’t believe I have heard John Bagley so much as mention your name in the over three years I have known him. Please do not portray yourself as a confidant of John Bagley.

    If my recollection is correct, you were not part of the coalition strategy meetings for the BBOE elections last year. In fact, you did not attend a single meeting. Just weeks before the November election several of those in the coalition were having real doubts about Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey. No one wavered on Howard Gardner. I had people within the coalition and outside the coalition warn me about both, and even though I had my own doubts, I allowed others to convince me Andre and Dave would be fine.

    You have to make mistakes in life in order to learn from them. It is a lesson I will never forget.


Leave a Reply