The School Board Chairmanship, Is It John Or Jessica?–Also, a Word From Joe-So

Weldon, Martinez
File image: John Weldon confers with board member Jessica Martinez. They will face off for school board chair.

The organizational meeting of the nine-member Board of Education to select officers will take place Monday, 6 p.m. at the Aquaculture School. Current Chair John Weldon faces competition from Jessica Martinez. Five votes are required to lead the board.

Mayor Joe Ganim will chair the organizational meeting.

The board chairmanship loaded with personality disputes has been something of a whip-lashing revolving door with about seven leaders the past six years, so if Martinez supplants Weldon it’s just a matter of course. Two new members Bobbi Brown and Albert Benejan  will attend their first meeting Monday night.

Call this school board the post Maria Pereira era, the political lightning rod whose passion now occupies a City Council seat representing the Upper East Side. That phew! you heard is from school board members who’ll no longer face her probing interrogations. Not on the school board, at least.

School board member Joe Sokolovic, who was elected in 2017 running on the Republican and Working Families Party lines, writes his vote may be the only one he receives but he’ll enter his name as chair, anyway.

On Dec. 9, I will be nominating myself, Joseph Sokolovic, for the position of chair of the Bridgeport Board of Education.

I am qualified to be chair for the following reasons:

I am the chair of three active committees;

These committees have held over 95 percent of their meetings. These committees have worked together and I have never stifled debate. The committees I chair get things done. I chaired some contentious meetings and many heated discussions were brought under control fairly and within the confines of Roberts’ Rules of Order. All this without curtailing members’ rights to debate. Said committees are responsible for the majority of member-driven policy changes and initiatives

I have no conflicts of interest. I will lobby only for the student of Bridgeport Public Schools as there is only a limited amount of funds available for education. Having a split loyalty is too big a conflict for the position of chair;

I am the only sitting member of the board to vote against the new bylaws that have resulted in taking away our children’s seat at the table; we no longer hear their voices at our meetings. Also, the public has lost numerous public speaking opportunities and chances to obtain updates on items such as the budget and the permanent superintendent search. All the aforementioned issues are due to the haphazard way the bylaws were passed, vesting unilateral power to the chairperson. This was again approved by all the returning board members except for myself, Joseph Sokolovic.

If selected as chair, I promise never to needlessly cancel a meeting and rob the public of their rights to speak at a regular board meeting. I will never stifle the minority voice. I will apply the rules fairly and equitably to all members whether they support my issues or not, or whether I agree with their opinions or not. I will fairly and dispassionately allow all voices to be heard. I will also work just as hard as I have, if not harder than I have, over the last two years, to attend every meeting humanly possible.

I will likely be the only vote I receive, but I must nominate and vote for myself, for I am what’s best for this leadership position. The children of Bridgeport deserve better than canceled meetings, split loyalties and sporadic attendance. I am tired of choosing between two bad options and deciding what’s the least worst. Our children deserve the very best.



  1. I served as President of the Firebird Society, on the executive board of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABPFF) as its Sgt at Arms and as Director of the Northeast Region of the IABPFF which represented 2000 Black firefighters and I can assure you that if any meeting that you are running needs a copy of Roberts’ Rules of Order at said meeting, you have an extremely dysfunctional organization and meeting.
    Things will never get better for the education of Bridgeport youth until Roberts’ Rules of Order isn’t needed to hold a meeting or having a President that lists as a qualification how proficient he is in the use of Roberts’ Rules of Order.

    Let’s hope that the interest of the children takes precedent over the self interest of members of the BBOE and that of Mayor Ganim!

    1. Don,

      Considering that the current chair either hasn’t read RRO, or he doesn’t care meetings typically don’t follow a format.

      My opinion is that 7 of 9 have personal vendettas. Joe and Bobbi being the two that I think are truly in it for the students, families, and staff.

    2. Mr. Mackey

      You are correct that the children must come first as they do in each and every case and decision I make. As a Father of A BPS student that is why I do this. These decisions are inclusive of the need for orderly run meetings that allow the minority voice to be heard. Had it not been for the violations of ROR improperly cutting off debate during the bylaw change, I would’ve pointed out that our children would still no longer have a seat at the table at meetings.

      Until we live in a perfect world where all voices are heard and respected Roberts rules are necessary to run an orderly meeting and tend to the business of our children.

  2. For being the two most ungrateful employees in Bridgeport history, I am nominating Ron Mackey and Donald Day as this blog’s deadbeat bloggers of the day.

  3. Mr. Grimaldi, and OIB readers. I have had Ms. Pereira on two of the committees I chaired last year and present and participating this year at almost every meeting I chaired. Although she and I don’t always see eye to eye, she had a right to speak and voice her opinion. Listening to her diverse voice and sometimes harsh opinions, sometimes changed my mind and sometimes did not. Her being allowed need right to speak never got in the way of progress. In fact the majority of member driven items have passed through these said committees and were made better through her interaction.

    Although personally we do not get along and I wish she’d tone it down a bit for those with weak self esteem, the policy’s that passed through her critical eye were made all the better for it.

    While she may seem “difficult” it would be a mistake not to hear her out. It would be a mistake to drown out the message just because the messenger has hurt your feeling. Hear that City Council? If Pereira has a good idea for our city, hear it out and rally around it.

    1. Joe,

      You did not have me on two committees you chaired last year. I believe you meant this year.

      You have chaired the Students and Families Committee for two years and the ONLY substantive items that have moved out of your committee was the revised Magnet School and Sibling policies which were driven by me.

      In fact,,after Larcheveque, Negron and Bradley reaching a consensus on those policies you delayed moving them to the Board for an entire year yet not a single meaningful change was made in your committee in that year.

      In my ten years of involvement with the school board I can say with certainty that no committee spearheaded to fruition more policies, initiatives, and programs that directly impacted students, staff, and parents than the Teaching and Learning Committee under Ben Walker’s leadership.

      Since Ben has left not a single meaningful policy or initiative has been spearheaded by a single committee chair.

      I know you like to think of yourself as a great Chair, Joe, but you are not.

      Under your “leadership” you did nothing about the “reverse suspension” initiative I proposed and Mike Testani was going to bring forth the same old tired options that never worked, yet he never did.

      When Hernan would make wild accusations about me or the DPAC Bylaws you refused to call him out of order.

      You allowed Jessica to do the same.

      You requested an Adhic Committee be formed regarding Security Entrance Policues and then held one meeting in 14 months although I repeatedly brought to your attention that this was an issue.

      You have chaired the Males of Color Committee and after 12 months not a single policy addressing suspensions, expulsions, discipline and more has been forth by your committee although I requested amazing data that clearly showed Males of Color were being disproportionately disciplined.

      Sauda Baraka formed the Males of Color Committee in early 2015 and promised the Board a White Paper in early 2016. It has been almost 4 years and a,White Paper has yet to be written.

      No, Joe. You have not been a Max Medina, Bobby Simmons, Sauda Baraka, Howard Gardner, Ben Walker,John Bagley, or Maria Pereira.

      Not even close.

        1. Joe,
          I am sure you remember your Students and Families Committee meeting where I was prepared with two board policies which clearly demonstrated you had violated those policies in trying to push something through your committee.

          You couldn’t debate the objection on the merits, didn’t have the votes to adjourn your own committee meeting so you got up and stormed out of the meeting with your lovely son in tow.

          Don’t ever try to portray yourself as a Chair that is an exemplary parlimentarian who can run an effective meeting through the effective use of Robert’s Rules of Order.

          You ran out of the room like a sissy.

          1. No you knew that you were not going to pass your policy through committee so you threatened to run your mouth endlessly and hold my son and I hostage to your pointless debate. So I used my right to not be present and left the meeting. Parliamentary wise that broke the quorum and did not infringe on your right to speak. Hope you had a good dialogue! I truly look forward to your 2 minute time limit going forward.

          2. That’s right, Joe.

            An effective Chair always storms out of their very own meeting when they cannot counter the facts.

            I hadn’t even finished introducing both policies and identified the specific violations before you rushed out of the meeting.

            I am sure Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnel and more would demonstrate the exact same behavior in Congress.


          3. And I look forward to you being on a Board of Education Island all by yourself.

            We are going to see if you survive and whether YOU will ever be re-elected to a city-wide seat again.

            Maybe in NY, but it won’t be here.

          4. Facts Matter. Copy pasted from meeting minutes.

            Ms. Pereira said board Policy 1312 indicates that the parents have the right to advocate to the Board of Education for any reason if they go through an administrative process and they’re not satisfied. She said the magnet school policy should reflect this.
            Mr. Sokolovic said there was going to be a one-to-one vote on the issue. Ms. Pereira said it was existing board policy. Mr. Sokolovic said the board can override other policies as we write a new policy. He said the issue would have to go to the full board.
            Ms. Pereira said then we’re just going to talk and talk and talk about it because board policy could not be violated. Mr. Sokolovic said he had already voted on the policy with the support of Mr. Walker. Ms. Pereira said policy could not be made that is contradicted by other policies.
            Ms. Pereira read the policy which indicates parents have the right to take matters from the level of teachers to principals, and then to the assistant superintendent and the superintendent.

            Mr. Sokolovic said there were two choices: to move it to the full board or continue it at the next meeting. He said he would not argue about something for a half hour that has already been decided.
            Ms. Pereira said she was shocked by the behavior of Mr. Sokolovic and Mr. Walker. She said spoke to the superintendent after the previous vote.
            Mr. Sokolovic said he had to leave the meeting and get his son home. He noted he liked the current magnet school policy in place. Ms. Pereira said Mr. Sokolovic was going to lose.

          5. Facts do matter.

            Where is the reference to the second policy I had found that directly contradicted your policy?

            Where is the portion of the minutes detailing how you got up and walked out of your own meeting?

            My favorite part of the portion of minutes you selectively cut and posted is the last sentence where I stated you were going to “lose” when it went before the full Board.

            And what happened when the policy violation went before the full Board? You lost, right, Joe?

            The Board voted overwhelmingly with my position that your policy violated two other existing policies and my amendment passed on the floor?

            I said you were going to lose and you did.

    2. Ummm…

      I have NEVER served on two of your committees.

      In December 2017, I was appointed to the Teaching and Learning Committee chaired by Ben Walker. I was also appointed to Students & Families chaired by you.

      In December 2018,,John Weldon decided he didn’t like that Ben, you and I were clustered on the same two committees and much was being accomplished which made him and his cohort look bad so he split us all up.

      I stayed on Teaching and Learning and was removed from your committee, Students and Families.

      Ben Walker resigned in March 2019 and then you were made chair of his committee, Teaching and Learning.

      I continued to attend the vast majority of Students and Families Committee meetings and Jessica’s and Hernan’s attendance is so spotty you have forgotten I have not been a member of Students and Families since Decembee 2019.

      Your such a great Chair you don’t even remember who the members of your committees are.

  4. Weldon has proven himself to suffer from Napoleon Complex and has been disastrous for the moral of the board and the district. He is firmly planted in the DTC machine’s pocket. His tenure has shown to be worse than even that of Kenny Moales! Jessica Martinez can’t even manage her own personal life let alone the business of the district. Look back at how well she and Albert “Fluffy” Benejan worked together while they were on the DPAC! They blew the damn thing up with their sniping, biting, scratching, name-calling. Not only that, she is a professed and ardent supporter of charter schools. Never mind that they take taxpayer dollars out of the pockets of our public schools and line the “corporation’s” coffers. Split loyalty is no loyalty at all.

    So those two will be a disaster. Pray tell, who does that leave? Go, Joe-So! Give it your best shot!

  5. Joe,

    Let’s not forget that you committed to support Ben Walker for Chair in December 2018.

    I found out you were negotiating your own deal with Hernan Illingworth. I asked Ben to test your commitment by asking you to nominate him. You then told him you could not nominate him because you had decided to run.

    Ben and I refused to support you and in the end you sold your soul to be Secretary. Yes,,SECRETARY.

    You are much more like Weldon,Martinez, Illingworth, Allen,,Taylor,and Lombard then not. Don’t ever forget that.

    1. You’re misremembering, I supported myself for vice Chair. Mr Walker although most qualified never had the numbers for chair. I never told Mr. Walker he had my support for vice chair. In fact although he legitimately does not remember I told him of my interest in vice chair as both you and he would be gone and I wanted a jump on a leadership position. The problem is as usual you were doing more talking than listening and heard what you wanted to hear. Learn to take a pause and this won’t happen as much.

  6. I am “mistemembering” nothing.

    You had committed to support Ben for Chair. However you, sir, had cut a backroom deal with Hernan that you would support him for Chair and in turn Hernan would support you for Vice-Chair.

    Two people who have NEVER introduced a policy, initiative or program that directly impacted students, parents or staff thought they should be Chair and Vice-Chair, meanwhile Ben Walker had accomplished more than every committee chair combined.

    In the end, Hernan backed out of running for Chair, he lost the Vice-Chair role because Ben and I voted for Jessica to teach you and Hernan a well -deserved lesson, and Hernan was nominated for Secretary by Jessica out of pity, and you were nominated for Secretary by Chris and you lost, but Hernan felt embarassed he was going from Vice- Chair to Secretary so he withdrew as Secretary, therefore you ended up being Secretary.

    All that back room dealing to be the freaking Secretary.

    Karma is a b_tch.

    1. Good job! Lesson not learned as the only back room deals were in your head. You would be much more effective if you were as emotionally Capable as you were intellectually. Unfortunately you never matured beyond High School.

  7. I apologize, Dennis Bradley missed the entire vote of officers, therefore Hernan and you both received four votes for Secretary.

    Hernan then withdrew his name and you won Secretary be default.

    1. Frank,

      Do either Joe or I report to you?

      If our exchange bothers you simply don’t read our posts.

      The only person that has any authority over OIB is Lennie. Not you or anyone else.

      1. Maria,,,,YES,you do report to me. Although you may not directly represent me in terms of City Council districts,you do have a responsibility to act in the best interests of ALL Bridgeporters. I consider it the same for ALL Twenty CC members.

        1. No, I don’t “report” to you, or anyone else for that matter.

          I am not your employee. I am an elected official that serves on behalf of my constituents collectively, not one individual.

          And, neither you or anyone else will infringe on my constitutional right to free speech.

          Got it? Good.

          1. Surprise. I have the same constitutional rights as to free speech. You are making a huge mistake and you are turning everyone against you. Btw. Did you GET my constitutional rights. That’s a two way street. YOU HAVE GONE CRAZY WITH YOUR REMARKS.

          2. IMHO Frank and Maria this back and forth is a negative thing. Both of you should just stop and cut it out.

            At my constitutional right of plagiarism. 🙂

            Maria are you planning on reporting to those committee meetings. And you do serve on behalf of your constituents, and they would like you to report to those committee meets that was assigned to by your superior. BAM 🙂

          3. Frank,

            Do you honestly believe you are in position to critique posts made by others?

            You have ZERO credibility.

            Post what ever you want regarding your opinions, however don’t you dare tell others on OIB what they should or shouldn’t do.

            No one on OIB reports to YOU!

          4. Frank,

            It appears you have been brainwashed by Generation Now.

            Don’t you have a BGN meeting to go to?

          5. Council Woman Maria seems harsh on the Beaver. Considering you dare tell others what they should or shouldn’t do with regards to reporting their committee meetings. As an elected Council Woman, you may not be an employee of your constituents but you did characterize them as employees who have a responsibly to their constituents and report to assigned meetings. JS. 🙂

            Maria Pereira says:
            December 4, 2019 at 5:05 pm
            Most employees work 5 days a week multiplied by 52 weeks which totals 260 days.

            If you deduct 10 days for vacation and 5 days for holidays, that leaves 245 days.

            If you called out sick 25 days that would give you 220 days of showing up for work which equates to a 90% attendance rate.

            I cannot think of one place where I have ever worked in which 25 absences would NOT result in termination.

            We cannot possibly represent the interests of the people of Bridgeport and our constituents if we don’t even meet the most basic responsibility of showing up for our committee assignments.

            I believe in accountability including holding myself accountable


    2. I see your point but there is a big difference between back and forth on blogs and social media. Yeah things are said but I’m a big boy and put the social media BS in my back pocket and not bring it to the floor during meetings. I could work with anybody, anywhere anytime. I will listen to any idea anytime and conduct myself with proper decorum on the floor as I promised when running for office. Never promised anybody to walk on eggshells on my own time.

    1. Saw that. Not sure of Rules Of Ansonia BOE but in Bridgeport BOE it is proper for the Mayor to run the organizational meeting. It is written into our bylaws.

      1. The City Charter states which board and commission that he chairs and I believe it states every one but dysfunctional boards of education is nothing new and then people wonder why we have do many social society problems, well all students have to do is to watch adults at board of education meetings.

  8. I think there is a common theme among both dysfunctional boards, the mayor’s of both city’s undo and unneeded influence on the Boards to the detriment of children’s education.

    1. Don, Bridgeport has a long track record of mayors running the BBOE, Mayor Finch wanted the the State to over the BOE, in fact the BBOE voted it’s self out of power. But people like Maria wanted Ganim and Mario running the show.

      1. Don, Maria hatred of Marilyn Moore gave Bridgeport 4 more years of Joe Ganim and Mario Testa in power and a dysfunctional City Council and BBOE. Maria voters owe you a big thanks for Joe and Mario.

  9. Well, Ron, your comment summed it up. The elected officials have really no say power in their vote. They will vote themselves out of office. And your hatred for Maria has known bonds. Hopefully, there are some adults in the room keeping an eye on the kids (officials) while they play because some of your shit is just ridiculous. SMH


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