When will a special election for Board of Education take place? That’s been the central question since the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled against the state takeover of schools. Today the Supremes issued an amended ruling setting a special election at the direction of the trial court:
The case is remanded to the trial court with direction to order a special election for the local board pursuant to General Statutes § 9-164 (b). The trial court shall set all applicable dates under the statute but shall schedule the special election no later than 150 days from the date of its order.
Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati (the trial court) has scheduled a status conference with legal parties for Friday at 10 a.m. Let’s say the judge sets a date for a special election on Friday, that means the election must take place no later than 150 days from that date. The Supremes decision also apparently leaves open a window for party primaries. Special election windows are sometimes too short to allow primaries.
This is a good day for John Bohannon, the attorney representing the city, who’s pleased the Supremes have allowed a 150-day window. Bohannon argued for as much time as possible for a special election and that’s exactly what he got. This allows the reconstituted appointed state board currently in place more time to implement school reforms recommended by Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas.
The timing of the special election could be scheduled around several potential primaries on Aug. 14. This is a presidential cycle that could include primaries for U.S. Senate and several state legislative races. It’s one more event to slot into the calendar for elections officials and their overstretched budgets.
The Supremes also did not rule on a request by attorney Norm Pattis to immediately seat elected school board members Bobby Simmons, Sauda Baraka and Maria Pereira all of whom had voted against the state takeover of schools last year. The vote for state control was 6-3. For his part regarding the Supremes amendment Pattis says “Only in Bridgeport do city officials crow when an illegally selected school board remains in office by inertia.”
Supremes amended decision below, as it applies to the special election:
The case is remanded to the trial court with direction to order a special election for the local board pursuant to General Statutes § 9-164 (b). The trial court shall set all applicable dates under the statute but shall schedule the special election no later than 150 days from the date of its order. All other requirements set forth by the statute, including those covered by the statutes governing party endorsement of candidates and primary elections, shall be satisfied. The special election will include all four seats that would have been filled on the basis of voting in the 2011 Bridgeport municipal elections. Because not all former local board members can be reinstated at this time, as some of their terms of office have expired, and because a local board must continue to function until a new local board can be elected, we stay the effect of our decision pending final certification of the special election results by the town clerk. Therefore, the trial court shall direct that the seven current members of the reconstituted board remain in office until the special election has been completed. At that time, the trial court shall reinstate the five members of the local board whose terms of office have not expired, to serve along with the four newly elected members.