After months – if not years – of parents being disenfranchised, the Bridgeport Board Education finally made the decision to cut ties with the current District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) leadership.
The motion, which was approved, 6-2, replaces the current DPAC with a new one made up of school PAC (SPAC) presidents, a transition that will be facilitated through the district’s Parent Center.
Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz recommended this action upon the advisement of the BOE’s attorney, Thomas Mooney, who in a four-page brief said that the actions of the DPAC executive board officers interfere with parents’ First Amendment right to freely associate.
Mooney warned that if the BOE continued to recognize the current DPAC leadership, who recently began enforcing a conflict of interest clause that excludes parents “affiliated” with other education advocacy groups, they’d be inviting a potential lawsuit.
Of course, not everyone agreed with Mooney’s determination.
Former BOE Chair Sauda Baraka and her closest ally, Howard Gardner, both refused to support the motion.
Incredibly, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Gardner even went as far as to complain that complaints of losing First Amendment rights were a “farce.”
“The majority on the PAC has a certain direction, a certain critique of the board,” added Gardner. “We should not retaliate by dismantling.”
Except that, as reported early this week by Education Bridgeport, the full DPAC executive board never actually voted on many of the political statements issued by Maria Pereira and Tammy Boyle over the past year.
I guess, as a political ally to Pereira, it would make sense that Gardner would want DPAC leadership to continue to use federal Title I money to grandstand political views he agrees with.
On the other side of the issue, fellow BOE member and former DPAC President Hernan Illingworth called the actions of the DPAC executive board officers a “personal attack on parents.”
“It is so, so political,” said Illingworth referring to the current state of the executive board. “I’ve never seen it so bad.”
So what does the future bring? Hopefully a functioning, inclusive DPAC where parents from across the city work collaboratively to improve education for all children in Bridgeport schools.
Unfortunately, it seems the BOE’s decision will bring on another spurious lawsuit.
Pereira has already indicated that she plans to file suit against the district by next week.
Stay tuned for more updates from last night’s meeting…
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