School Board Alters Parent Advisory Council Executive Board

UPDATE: Former Board of Education member Maria Pereira shares her take on Monday night’s school board meeting.

Tonight Attorney Mooney from Shipman & Goodman was present for the 5:00 PM Special Meeting. The usual Ex$ell Bridgeport parents and paid charter school parents were also present.

Norm Pattis was also present and this discussion was held in public view. As the agenda item of “Discussion and Possible Action on DPAC Leadership” came up, Fran Rabinowitz distributed a six-page memorandum about the DPAC, Title I, BBOE Policies, etc. to each BBOE member and extras were distributed to the public. We obtained several copies. How do you distribute a six-page memorandum to the BBOE members as the item is being discussed?

The last page was a five-paragraph motion regarding continuing a DPAC, but removing the 10 member DPAC Executive Board in which nine members were elected to a two-year term by parents in a city-wide election in April 2013, and I was appointed to fulfill the remainder of a term due to a resignation. The term expires June 30, 2015 and the new elections were scheduled for April 30, 2015.

Andre Baker looked like an absolute fool. He made the motion and attempted to read the five paragraph into the record. He could not read and literally Norm Pattis was giggling while seated next to me. Moales seconded the motion. After about an hour of debate with Sauda Baraka and Howard Gardner making it clear that this was simply an attempt by certain BBOE members to remove the executive board because the majority of us have stood against Dave Hennessey, Joe Larcheveque, Hernan Illingworth, Kenneth Moales, Andre Baker and Kadisha Coates. Howard stated it was pure retaliation and politics at its worst.

The vote was 6-2 with Kelleher absent. Hennessey, Larcheveque, Moales, Coates, Baker and Illingworth voted in favor. Baraka and Gardner against.

Pattis leaned over to me and said “this is just another coup.” I told him I felt the same way and had posted it on OIB.

After the meeting adjourned, Linda Lambeck rushed over to Norm Pattis and asked him for a quote. He said “I look forward to having Andre Baker read something on the stand. Mayor Finch has bigger problems than Bridgeport’s children can’t read, he has a board member that can’t read.” It was hysterical!

Think about it, Kadisha Coates a charter school parent, Joe Larcheveque a charter school parent and Kenneth Moales who has no children in the public schools and will be serving on Dr. Perry’s Charter School Governing Council just voted to remove the entire DPAC Executive Board that has volunteered over 50,000 hours in the BPS. Non-BPS parents are attacking true BPS parents and interfering with the parent organization that has existed for 45 years without interference.

Original post: Megan DeSombre’s take here. The Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting Monday (today) 5 p.m. at Skane School for “Discussion and possible action on District PAC Leadership.” In a letter to education chief Fran Rabinowitz, legal slinger Norm Pattis, representing the Parent Advisory Council, schools her about state law limiting items in executive session outside of public view. PAC supporters say city officials are intruding in leadership business. Jonathan Pelto has more here. Pattis letter:

It has come to our attention that the Bridgeport Board of Education issued an agenda for Monday, February 23, 2015 at 5:00 p.m., on which an agenda item is: “Discussion and possible action on District PAC Leadership.” The agenda also suggests that this issue may potentially be handled in executive session.

As you are aware, the public has a constitutional and statutory right to be present at school board meetings. Under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, public access to such hearings may be limited only under very limited circumstances. In fact, there are only five such exemptions. They are: “(A) Discussion concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require that discussion be held at an open meeting; (B) strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency or a member thereof, because of the member’s conduct as a member of such agency, is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled; (C) matters concerning security strategy or the deployment of security personnel, or devices affecting public security; (D) discussion of the selection of a site or the lease, sale or purchase of real estate by a political subdivision of the state when publicity regarding such site, ‘lease, sale, purchase or construction would cause a likelihood of increased price until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions concerning same have been terminated or abandoned; and (E) discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the  information contained therein described in subsection (b) of section 1-210.”
‘ See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-200(6).

It is the position of the PAC that the present issues concerning PAC leadership falls under none of the enumerated categories and, as such, the issue does not qualify for discussion in executive session. Any action taken in executive session would be in violation of the Freedom of Information Act and will be challenged by the PAC.



  1. This may be a lengthy post, however I encourage you to read it.

    Mayor Finch is up for re-election in just a few months and when you think about the area where his initiatives and policies have been consistently defeated, it is clearly education.

    He was defeated with the illegal takeover, the charter referendum and his BBOE candidates were defeated two-to-one in 2013 and his buddy Paul Vallas was chased out of town after the national press publicized he was deemed unqualified to serve as a superintendent in CT.

    All four BBOE candidates up for re-election are his. That includes Moales, Illingworth, Coates and Kelleher. We have nothing to lose and Mayor Finch has everything to lose.

    The district Parent Advisory Council Executive Board has consistently and publicly denounced Mayor Finch, Dave Hennessey, Kenneth Moales, Andre Baker, Hernan Illingworth, Kadisha Coates and Jaqui Kelleher. We have recently denounced Interim Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz because she cut a deal with Mayor Finch, Dave Hennessey, Kenneth Moales, etc. that she would play nice with them as long as she got an extension to her contract. Remember, she is drawing on a full superintendent’s pension and is being paid $190,000 annually, plus she receives a vehicle, medical benefits, etc. She is no less guilty of selling her soul than Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey are.

    They are elected and public officials who do not want to be exposed or publicly criticized, therefore they are going to attempt to interfere, suspend or dismantle the DPAC as retribution and to try to curb our public dissent. As elected and public officials, if you can’t take the heat, you shouldn’t seek public office.

    If the DPAC were publicly praising them or supporting them, this attack would not be occurring. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.

  2. This entire situation reminds me of the illegal takeover of the BBOE. Think about it.

    The agenda for the special meeting was issued on a late Friday afternoon of the Fourth of July weekend after six months of secret meetings between Finch, his administration, Malloy’s administration, etc. A weekend when many residents travel or are completely distracted and focused on their families. It was for a special meeting because there is no public comment allowed at a special meeting, therefore no dissent.

    The notice for this Monday’s special meeting was issued on a late Friday afternoon right before a special election that impacts 75% of Bridgeport. Although a regular BBOE meeting is already scheduled for 6:30 PM, the DPAC discussion is taking place during a 5:00 PM special meeting where no public comment is allowed. As we know the vast majority of Bridgeport parents and community members will either just be leaving work at 5:00 PM, still be working at 5:00 PM, or be preparing dinner for their children and families at 5:00 PM. The most active and involved community members will be focused on the special election, not a special BBOE meeting.

    In addition, the BBOE has indicated they want to have a secret, behind-closed-doors meeting in violation of the FOIA and want to do their dirty work in private, out of the public’s view.

    The purpose of the illegal BBOE takeover was to squelch the three minority BBOE members who worked to expose the truth and publicly dissented. This attack is no different. Those of us on the DPAC Executive Board with dissenting points of view must be silenced.

    This is just another coup, but against parents who have volunteered thousands of hours in the BPS.

  3. This is what Mark will cite. He always does:
    (B) strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency or a member thereof, because of the member’s conduct as a member of such agency, is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.
    He will advise the board that since the DPAC has retained counsel there most certainly will be litigation and they will be discussing the strategy surrounding that.
    Maria, lend Sauda your tape recorder.


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