Lawyers Argue Colon’s School Board Status

From Linda Conner Lambeck, CT Post:

Leticia Colon’s right to return to the city school board–despite spending months on the City Council while a state-appointed board was in charge of the school district–won’t be decided by the judge who set the ground rules for Sept. 4’s special election, according to the attorney who has asked for clarification.

Josephine Miller, who represents returning school board member Sauda Baraka and others, said Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati has indicated the matter is not his jurisdiction.

Undeterred, Miller said she plans to return with a new court motion challenging not only Colon’s legal standing, but returning board member Thomas Mulligan’s as well.

“We will definitely be taking further action. I just can’t say exactly when it is going to be,” Miller said.

Since both Colon and Mulligan declared before the state Board of Education in July 2011 they were incapable of serving, Miller said it stands to reason they should not be serving.

“They gave up their seats. They said ‘We’re incompetent.’ How come they are playing musical chairs. In one minute, out, then in again,” Miller said.

The state Supreme Court ruled last February that city and state officials were wrong when they replaced the elected school board; it also ordered the return of the five elected board members whose terms had not expired after the special election to fill vacant seats was held and certified.

Miller wanted clarification because the City Charter says individuals can not sit on two boards or commissions at once. Her contention is Colon gave up her right to a school board seat when she was elected to the council.

City Attorney Mark Anastasi told the school board at its Monday organizational meeting that he disagrees. He said the elected school board, disbanded by the state Board of Education, did not come back into existence until after the special election, so Colon was not holding two positions. She resigned from the council on Sept. 7, the day the election was certified.

John Bohannon, an attorney representing the city, said as far as he is concerned, the original matter is closed and the court can not reopen it to consider what he considers an entirely different matter. If there is a challenge of Colon’s legal status to serve on the board, he says a new motion or suit would have to be filed.

Even so, he filed an objection Thursday to Miller’s motion.

Baraka attempted to adjourn Monday’s meeting until the eligibility of all board members to serve had been clarified. She also turned down an attempt to make her board vice chair because of the uncertainty. Bohannon referred to it as “antics” in his motion to the court.

But at least one local attorney, Maximino Medina, a former chairman of the city school board, called Baraka’s action correct and consistent with her position that the legality of the meeting was in question.



  1. And besides your honor, one of our antics was to buy her off with the position of Vice Chair believing she would jump at the opportunity.
    This proves she isn’t serious about politics.

  2. I asked this before–if the state ruled in February on returning the old board, then why was this issue not brought up then? It could have been resolved and the seat (if Colon had to give it up) would have been open and the voters could have decided the replacement, no? Now, if they declare her invalid, don’t the Dems get to choose her replacement? So it still won’t change the makeup of the board, right? The ruling was almost eight months ago, but WFP waits until the first meeting of the reconstituted board to make it an issue. This could have been resolved and the BOE could be focusing on school issues, not the political fighting … again.

    1. CT,
      The issue should have been raised once the court declared the old board be reseated (back in Feb). It would have forced her hand prior to the Sept 4th election date and would have allowed the voters (however few there were) to pick her replacement.
      Lennie–please confirm–when a member of the BOE leaves, they are replaced by their own party, correct? Isn’t that how Mulligan gained his seat, as a replacement for Pat Crossin?
      As far as voting blocs, I’m tired of hearing about that too. Other than objections, what real and substantive ideas–that directly affect the day-to-day life of the students–have the WFP members put on the table? They call themselves the watchdogs regarding the finances–fine. The public has a right to know how the money is being spent. But beyond that I don’t hear anything from them on class size, etc. What is their stance on the programs implemented for this school year?

      1. Lifelong,
        Replacements for a vacant unexpired term, like Colon or Mulligan, could only be filled by sitting BOE as stated in your case about Mulligan and Crossin.

      2. From the City Charter: If a vacancy arises for any reason in the membership of the Board of Education, the remaining members shall elect a new member to serve for the balance of the term vacated. The person so elected shall be a resident and elector and a member of the same political party as the member vacating such office.
        By the way, a link to the City Charter is located under the Government header.

  3. Not that I mind using any excuse I can to quote Norm Pattis, “What’s a little Fascism among friends if it benefits the kids?” This shite is starting to bore me … YAWN.

  4. Lifelong Bpt, let me ask you this.Someone commits a crime in February and are you saying the police cannot take action against that crime that person committed in September?

  5. Ron–
    Not the same, but I’ll say this. Yes the police can take action, but if you know who committed the crime in Feb, why wait until Sept to take action? Gives that person another 8 months to do more damage, no?
    This could have been addressed months ago so it could have possibly been resolved by the election. This way, the first meeting of the reseated BOE would be something productive for the parents and not a resumption of the fights from the last time they were seated. The parents wanted to see how this board will work together and their thoughts on the new school year, progress on the new programs, etc. Instead, they got more of the same political fighting from over a year ago.
    And this is a shot at both sides–the DEMS tried to be cute about it for 8 months too. It’s obvious in the way they showed up with their legal arguments, etc. I wish the judge–as part of the initial ruling–would have stipulated the 5 reinstated members state their position on returning prior to the special election.

  6. So these people decided the most important thing to do at the start of their reconvening as a board was to start a fight.

    It’s going to be a LONG two years ’til we can get rid of these incompetent WFP people! Furthermore, you’d better believe this will further move residents to vote to give the mayor appointing power.

    This may well be the proverbial nail in the coffin …

  7. It’s been a week of truly wonderful weather here in Lake Woebegone CT, hasn’t it? The “new/old” and recently elected members of our current BOE met on Monday night and some practices tried out in recent months at BOE (listening to public questions and providing responses where possible at that meeting) were continued. And some former seemingly fractious behavior continued but may soon become resolved by court action as it needs to be. But the schools were open! Books were available. The teachers were in their classrooms (and not out on strike as in Chicago). Many kids received breakfast and lunch through the nutrition program (and word is surfacing that some youth who are in Lighthouse after-school programs may be getting dinner as well in the near future). The police were present yesterday as part of the safe corridor initiative at multiple schools. They were also at Central HS at closing hours to keep cars from entering the parking lot. Something new, I guess? But students the day before had some “action” on Madison Avenue the previous day.

    And the Bridgeport Public Schools site has lots of financial information for 2011-12 and for the 2012-13 year, more than any of us (including past BOE members) have seen before in single well-presented formats.
    Don’t know how quizzes, tests, lab work, cheerleaders and football teams are doing at the moment, but in a community where everything has seemed below average for so long, it sounds like there’s some progress in the air. “Beautiful, bright and above average” would be a new track to follow. Time will tell.

  8. I expected better from Tom Mulligan. I thought he was a man of honor but I was wrong, he is a Democratic butt boy. I didn’t have any expectations about Leticia Colon, she is mindless and does what Mitch Robles tells her to do. Don’t be surprised when Robles’ daughter is put up to replace Colon on the council.


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