Education Bridgeport is Megan DeSombre’s “attempt to publish an unvarnished look at what is happening in Bridgeport schools.” In her latest commentary under a headline “Bridgeport Board Working Overtime To Ignore Parents,” the city resident shellacks Board of Education President Sauda Baraka for betraying her mantra of involving parents in the school board process. In a matter of months Baraka has gone from insurgent to controlling group. It goes with the territory. DeSombre has supported many of the initiatives of outgoing school chief Paul Vallas. From DeSombre:
Though its tenure has barely begun, Bridgeport’s Working Families Party-run Board of Education seems to be doing everything it can to disenfranchise parents, particularly working or single parents.
Strange, for an organization that calls itself community-led.
Case in point: Last Monday’s Board of Education meeting lasted seven hours. Starting at 5:30 p.m., the meeting didn’t adjourn until after midnight, and more than one-and-a-half hours of that was spent in executive session, behind closed doors.
It’s important to note that the Working Families Party lists the goal of “getting parents more involved in their children’s education” as one of its “values.” [Working Families Party, Core Values]
How in the world could a working parent spend more than seven hours at a board meeting that lasts until 1 a.m.? What about a teacher, who has to be in front of a classroom at 8 a.m.?
And it gets worse. Over the past week, there were board meetings four days in a row, comprised of more than 20 hours-worth of “executive sessions” and public meetings.
Then, to add insult to injury, the newly elected board’s Processing Committee, which includes Chairman Sauda Baraka, decided to codify routinely-held back-room executive sessions during what are euphemistically called “special board meetings” prior to regular, publicly attended board meetings.
That decision, which would only make it more difficult for parents to attend hours-long meetings, must still be ratified by a 2/3 board majority. Oh, by the way, the Processing Committee met before a three-and-a-half hour executive session on Wednesday.
So the plan, if we have this straight, is to make all the decisions during back-room conversations before the public has a chance to weigh in? Do we have that correct?
Let’s keep in mind that discussions held during “executive session” are not publicly available. We’ll never know what was discussed–no records are kept and whatever goes on is not available through Freedom of Information requests.
Flash back to November, when Sauda Baraka was running her union-backed bid for board control and told the Hartford Courant that, “People want their voice to count, that’s what the civil rights movement was all about.” [Hartford Courant, 11/1/2013]
Awesome job listening to the voice of the people, Ms. Baraka. You’re off to a great start.